Moving Homes When You're Pregnant: 9 Tips for Doing It Safely
Medical professionals, movers, and real moms give us their tips on making your move as safe and easy as possible when you're expecting.
1. Talk to your doctor first.
Before you even think about picking up a box "check with your doctor that it's safe for you to participate," says Ashley Hill, M.D., medical director of Loch Haven OB-Gyn in Florida. If you have any complications like an increased risk of preterm labor, you need to sit this one out.
Pregnant women who are lifting for more than an hour a day should avoid anything heavier than 18 pounds if they are less than 20 weeks, and 13 pounds if they are more than 20 weeks, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The latter is less than a KitchenAid Mixer or 10 to 12 books!
If you are moving into a new area, don't forget to organize your healthcare provider before you go. "A lot of obstetricians will not accept patients who are more than 24 to 28 weeks pregnant," says Dr. Hill. He recommends moving before your third trimester and bringing your medical records with you.
2. Get more help than usual.
The most important piece of advice is to get lots of help, and not just for moving day. "The hardest part was recognizing my limitations," says Katy Hom from Lubbock, Texas, who moved when she was four months pregnant. "I would normally stay up late packing, lift heavy boxes, and help move furniture. I had to keep reminding myself not to do those things."
As well as moving companies, you can book cleaners by the hour and organizers to help you declutter. Take a tip from Lilach West from Los Angeles, who had the brilliant idea of hiring a student to help her pack when she moved, four months pregnant with a toddler.
"Many expectant moms think that they can handle the move without a full-service provider," says Sharone Ben-Harosh, CEO of FlatRate Moving. "In reality, it's not the most efficient or safest way."
3. Lift and bend safely.
Pregnancy produces increased levels of the hormone relaxin, which loosens ligaments to help with labor. This, along with posture changes and extra weight, makes you more likely to hurt yourself. Common pregnancy injuries include back strain, pubic symphysis dysfunction(SPD), carpal tunnel pain, and sacroiliac joint problems.
"If you are going to pack and lift, it's really important to think about what you are doing biomechanically," says Dr. Pamela Morrison Wiles, DPT, founder of Pamela Morrison Physical Therapy in New York City. "Most people bend their spine and lift from the lower back with their arms outstretched," says Dr. Morrison Wiles. "This strains the low back muscles and can put the person at risk of injury to the spinal intervertebral disc." Instead, use the hip hinge technique, where you straddle the item, bend your knees and bend from the hips with a straight back, then hold the object close to you and lift using your legs.
"Move things in smaller, lighter, and more frequent amounts," says Luba Starostiak, PT, a physical therapist also at Pamela Morrison Physical Therapy. She recommends wearing support belts and carpal tunnel wrist splints to increase stability, plus supportive shoes with good arch support and shock absorption.
4. Give yourself a lot of time to pack.
Start well in advance so you can take regular breaks. "Take a rest every half an hour," says Dr. Morrison Wiles, "and put your feet up to help with circulation." Standing too long can lead to lower extremity swelling. This goes for moving day, too.
5. Declutter before you nest.
6. Beat pregnancy brain.
Thanks to the dreaded pregnancy brain, it's easy to lose track of the million things to be done. Write lists and use a calendar to mark key dates in advance. That way you won't forget to transfer the cable or book the movers.
Use pen and paper or an app like Sortly to record what's in each box and create labels. That way you won't have to search through all of them to find anything.
7. Pack a moving-day kit.
"Bring something to sit on so you can rest," says Ben-Harosh. Pack snacks and electrolytes to keep your blood sugar and hydration levels high, an overnight bag with clothes, medications, toiletries, and a phone charger. Don't forget toilet paper for the million times you'll need to pee during the day!
8. Be careful on the stairs.
Falling is one of the most common accidents in pregnancy because your center of gravity shifts. "Be very careful carrying heavy things and walking up and down stairs, or anywhere you might fall," says Dr. Hill. It's another reason to wear shoes with good support and grip, so you can avoid a trip to the ER.
Put aside some pregnant-mama-friendly supplies for last-minute cleaning. Play it safe and avoid those with harsh chemicals and strong fragrances. Try to complete renovations before you move in to avoid paint, glue fumes, and dust.