MaryAnna Clemons remembers being in the far left lane of the highway when the urge came to use the bathroom. At eight months pregnant, Clemons was used to needing frequent bathroom breaks along her 40-mile trek from her rural home to her job in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When she finally made it to a gas station restroom, the door was locked. In panic, Clemons went to the front of a line of customers and demanded the key from a surprised gas station attendant.
"Three people asked me if I 'made it OK' after I emerged from the bathroom," recalls Clemons, whose son is now nine months old. Her advice to other pregnant commuters: "Stay in the right lane for easier access to getting off the main drag." For the last few weeks of her pregnancy, Clemons gave up highway driving altogether in favor of town roads that had easier access to bathrooms and emergency rooms.
No doubt other pregnant commuters can identify with Clemons' woes. And for many, commutes are getting longer. According to the Transportation Research Board, from 1990 to 2000, the number of workers with commutes lasting more than 60 minutes grew by almost 50 percent. If you're commuting while pregnant, you need to take extra precautions to keep yourself—and your baby—healthy and comfortable.
DON'T: Wear constrictive clothing or high heels.
DO: Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers.
A comfortable commute starts before you get in your car or on the train, says Susan Bellinson, a certified nurse midwife at the Montefiore Comprehensive Family Care Center in the Bronx, New York. "Because so many women get dressed in a hurry, they may not think about how constrictive clothing or high heels might affect them." Tight clothing, knee-high stockings, and ill-fitting shoes constrict blood flow, causing increased swelling and discomfort, especially in your legs and feet.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, MD, an OB-GYN in private practice in Englewood, New Jersey, gives another reason to forgo heels: "During your pregnancy you have a different center of gravity. You're more prone to slip or trip going down stairs." Her solution? Wear sneakers.