Yes! You can tour while pregnant! Pregnancy presents some very specific challenges for touring musicians. But don’t worry, you can do it! Read on to get ready for the road.
I spent most of my second and third trimesters on a scrappy US tour, traveling the country in an Econoline van with my band Cordero. I wasn’t sure what to expect because this was definitely not covered in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. At the time, I also didn’t know anyone else who had toured pregnant. But I had a new album to promote and I was determined to continue my music career.
That was quite a year, and there are so many things to say and stories to tell.
For now, I’ll share a few things to consider if you’re planning to tour while pregnant.
1. Breaking the News to Your Music Partners
We all hope that our friends and colleagues will be thrilled and supportive, but people are also complicated and business can be too. Figuring out how to break the news to the people in your life who are impacted will depend on your own set of circumstances. My personal advice is to lead with your heart, but trust your gut too.
Bandmates: In my own case, telling my bandmates in Pistolera and Cordero was the easy/fun part. Both bands were super supportive and excited for the baby. I hope that your band has a loving and supporting family vibe. If you don’t feel supported, you may want to do some deep thinking about whether you want to keep investing your time into it. It will probably not be easier or better post-baby.
Managers & Booking Agents: Cordero’s agent was also supportive and happy that I was still down to tour. We focused on the logistics like setting an end date for touring and trying our best to keep the drive times reasonable.
Record Label: I didn’t know how the label would feel about my pregnancy, so I just didn’t mention it. A few days into the tour, we arrived in Chicago and played a really fun show at Schubas. The show was packed and we rocked it. The label’s publicist and other fans and friends congratulated us on the show and I thought, Oh! It’s all fine!
Then I saw the label owner’s look of disappointment when they saw my little belly and I confirmed I was pregnant. It made me glad that I’d kept it under wraps. The album was manufactured and distributed, the national tour was booked, the press releases were sent, and there was no turning back now.
You might have a different experience, but that’s how mine played out. No matter who your collaborators are, take the time to consider how to best break the news.
2. Timing Your Tour Around Pregnancy
Target the Second Trimester: If you have flexibility on your touring window, the second trimester (14-26 weeks) is when many mamas feel their best. In the second trimester you may start to feel your energy stabilize and that the nausea is not as bad. In the third trimester, some things get harder as you grow larger. For example, by the end of my tour dates, I could barely reach my guitar because of my belly.
Prenatal Check Ups: Make sure to schedule your prenatal check-ups well in advance so you can book the days that work best with your touring schedule. In the second trimester, appointments are typically about once a month. In the third trimester, prenatal care appointments get more frequent.
End Dates for Tour: Talk with your doctor and be clear with your booking agent and/or manager about your end date for touring and shows. I toured up until I was 8 months pregnant. At that point, I could barely reach my guitar because of my belly. After that, I stayed in the city and I still played local gigs on drums with my other band, Pistolera until a few weeks before my due date.
3. Planning Your Drives
Long days on the road are part of touring life, but they can be extra uncomfortable when you’re pregnant.
- Try to keep drive times under 6 hours
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Drink plenty of water
- Take breaks to walk and stretch
4. Eating Well
It’s especially important to eat well while you’re pregnant. Most truck stops and fast food restaurants don’t have many good options. Instead, we stopped at grocery stores. It took a little longer to get off the highway, but it was worth it to have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.
My bandmates liked the ready-to-eat meals from the deli. I would get pre-washed/ready to eat boxes of spinach and make sandwiches with cucumbers, hummus or cheese. Try packing these extras on tour to make a mini kitchen on the road.
Van Cooking Packing List
- Cutting board
- Small Cooler
- Serrated knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Small trash bags
- Paper towels
- Travel Mug
- Rubber bands or Clips (to close packages)
Bonus Tip: Most grocery stores also have clean bathrooms so they make really good pit stops.
5. Packing Pregnancy Safe Medicine
There are a lot of over the counter medicines that you can’t take if pregnant. If you regularly have bad allergies or headaches, or other medicines you normally take, make sure to check with your doctor before your tour and make sure you have any alternative medicines you might need in your toiletry kit.
6. Finding Maternity Stagewear
Invest in stagewear that you can grow into and feel great in. My best friend made me custom dresses that stretched and grew with me. It made me feel more confident on stage to have cute dresses that fit well.
And don’t forget about the shoes! You may also want to pack stretchy/comfortable shoes. In my case, not only did my feet swell regularly, I went up a whole shoe size during pregnancy.
7. Adjusting Your Expectations
Just like in most jobs, you might have to make some adjustments while pregnant. Instead of feeling bad that you can’t do everything, look for tasks that allow you to still do your part of the (off-stage) touring work and also take care of you.
Pause While Pregnant
- Don’t load heavy gear. It’s not worth it.
- Don’t feel bad for needing to stay away from smelly places like the loading area if you’re feeling nauseous
- Designated driver
- Merch set up and sales post-show
- Settling up the accounting after the show
8. Planning Your Stays
If you’re a band on a budget, you might avoid spending money on hotels by staying with friends and fans. If you can, do a little more advance planning to set up comfortable places to stay so you can be sure to have a proper sleep each night. Let your hosts know that you’re expecting – they will likely go out of their way to make sure you are extra comfortable.
9. Making a Maternity Leave Plan
Build your Maternity Leave Fund: If you’re a full-time musician, keep in mind that there will be a few weeks or months where it may not be possible for you to gig or tour. Figure out how much you’ll need to be able to give yourself a maternity-leave and start building your maternity leave fund. That way you can focus on bonding with the baby and not the bills.
Also, talk to your band(s) about what will happen while you’re on leave. Will they hire a sub and keep playing out or touring without you? Will they pause and wait for your return? This will vary a lot by the role you play in the band and your particular circumstances. But the point is communication is key! Talk it out.
10. Remember it Goes By In a Blink
While it feels like forever while you’re pregnant it actually goes by really fast. Make sure to take moments to enjoy this unique experience and savor this special time. And take lots of pictures!
Have tips of your own to add? Have more questions? Drop me a line or let me know in the comments!
Keep on making that music, Mama!
Disclaimer: I share my story and hope that it’s helpful, but I’m a musician – not a physician. Every person, baby, and pregnancy is unique. Please consult with your doctor on what is right for you and your baby.