There are many reasons a woman might find herself on a Disney Parks vacation while pregnant. Maybe an older child is celebrating a big birthday. Maybe it’s a family reunion. Maybe this trip was planned well in advance and now you’re facing it with a happy bundle of joy on the way.
In my case, my company’s annual picnic was going to be held at Disneyland Park, and there was no way I could possibly turn down free Disney – it didn’t matter that my huge 34-week pregnant belly was big enough to balance a Dole Whip Float on.
Here are some simple tips to having the best experience at Disney Parks while you’re carrying your little Mickey or Minnie:
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR: This may be a no-brainer, but do it. Make sure your doctor knows that you are on your way to a Disney vacation. Listen to his or her advice and follow it to the letter. In my case, my doctor told me to stay off any rides that had any health warnings. This limited me to the slow-moving rides – Pirates of the Caribbean, “it’s a small world” and the like. In a way, this prepared me for all the baby, toddler and preschool days we were to spend in Disney Parks.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES: Wearing well-broken-in walking shoes is advice we’re used to, but when you’re pregnant, it’s an absolute must. You’ll be spending an outrageous amount of time on your feet. Make it as comfortable as possible.
HYDRATE AND KEEP YOUR ENERGY UP: If you’re early on in your pregnancy, you might be experiencing some morning sickness. Carry bland crackers, cheese sticks, or dry cereal with you. Don’t expect to easily find these in the parks. And keep drinking water! Which brings us to the next tip:
SCOPE OUT THE BATHROOMS: Take a park map and circle where the bathrooms are in red Sharpie. When I was pregnant, I could barely go an hour without a trip to the ladies’ room. If you’re in the first trimester and are experiencing any sort of nausea, just knowing where the restrooms are can put your mind at ease.
THE FIRST AID CENTERS ARE YOUR FRIEND: Every Disney Park has a first aid center. Just like you did with the bathrooms, circle its location on the map. If you begin to feel dizzy, tired, or out of breath, visit the nice folks there. Again, just knowing where they are will put your mind at ease.
MAKE A PLAN WITH YOUR FAMILY: Let your family know ahead of time that you may want to take it easy during the day. Develop a plan of what you’ll do if you feel tired BEFORE you step foot in the park. Will Daddy take the little ones around the park while you head back to the hotel for a nap? Will the teenagers go on thrill rides while you sit on a park bench enjoying a LeFou’s Brew? Have it all worked out in advance so there’s no need for frantic last minute decision making.
ENJOY THE SHOWS: Disney is king of family entertainment. Sit down, relax, and watch one of the shows for which Disney is famous. Mickey and the Magical Map, the Festival of the Lion King – these are great opportunities to sit, rest, and be immersed in Disney magic without having to pull a safety bar over your head.
THINK HARD ABOUT THE DINING PLAN: If you’re in your first trimester, you might be experiencing morning sickness. (Or, in my case, morning, noon, evening, night, and everything in between sickness.) Later in your pregnancy, you might be ravenous and want to eat everything in sight. You might crave pickles and maple syrup or the smell of burgers might make you queasy. The dining plan may not make much financial sense if you don’t feel like eating much.
MAKE SURE SOMEONE TAKES PHOTOS OF YOU!: One of my biggest regrets about my pregnancy is how few photos of me there are. My daughter loves to hear about when I was carrying her, and I only have a handful of photos with my huge belly in it. Flag down that PhotoPass photographer! Get a photo in front of the castle in all your maternal glory. Don’t worry that your eyes look bleary from lack of sleep or that your ankles look fat. Smile for the camera and know that someday, your child will get a kick out of looking at this photo.
IMAGINE THE FUTURE: As you slowly drift through Spaceship Earth, imagine how your future little one will react to the smells of Rome burning. As your older children meet Dug, imagine if your baby will grab for the big dog’s nose. As you struggle to earn points on Toy Story Mania, wonder whether your child will be a natural gamer. Everywhere you look on Disney property, there’s a future memory waiting to be made. Smile and look forward to the day you can take your little one back to this special place.
As for my hugely pregnant Disneyland day, I’ll never forget it. I spent the day waddling down Main Street, U.S.A. with my husband, and lost count of the times I said, “Do you think she’ll like (insert ride name here)?” I watched the parade while resting my unrecognizably large feet, enjoying an icy drink bought in Toontown.
A little over a week later, my little healthy Mouseketeer surprised us all by showing up 5 weeks before her due date. We don’t know for sure why she arrived so early, but I’m convinced that she heard the music on “it’s a small world” and wanted to see it for herself.