When you’re pregnant, even small bumps can feel like big problems. But when it comes to your car and driving, there are actually fewer worries than you might think. It’s been well documented that failing to wear a seatbelt increases your risk of serious injury or fatality in the event of a car accident. Pregnancy hormones increase your center of gravity and affect your reflexes; this means it’s even more important to fasten up during pregnancy. However, many women fear that the stresses and strains of carrying another passenger – especially one as large as an unborn child – will put their unborn baby at risk if they drive while pregnant.
- Are these fears justified?
- And what are the risks if you don’t buckle up?
Let’s take a look…
Table of Contents
- Crash Risk and Pregnancy
- Risk of Injury When Not Wearing a Seatbelt While Pregnant
- Safety for Baby During Car Travel While Pregnant
- The Verdict: Is Driving Safe During Pregnancy?
- Should You Stop Driving During Pregnancy?
- The Bottom Line
Crash Risk and Pregnancy
Drastic as it sounds, if a pregnant woman is involved in a high-speed crash, the fetus may be injured or even killed by the impact. Sadly, some of these tragedies have been recorded. It’s far more common, however, for pregnant women to sustain minor injuries in a car accident; these can range from sore muscles and joints to sprains and fractures. While these may not sound too serious, it’s vital to stay safe and healthy during pregnancy to ensure a happy and healthy outcome for both mother and child.
Risk of Injury When Not Wearing a Seatbelt While Pregnant
Given that seatbelts are designed to be as comfortable as possible, it may come as a surprise to hear that wearing one while pregnant could actually pose a risk to your baby. It’s true: the forces exerted when a car crashes can put pressure on the baby and uterus. There are several things you can do to reduce the risks. First, ensure you’re wearing the right-sized seatbelt to avoid putting additional pressure on your abdomen. If your seatbelt is too tight, it’ll be more difficult to release in an emergency, leading to delayed response times. Next, try to wear the seatbelt below your breasts. If you’re wearing it above your breasts, you could compress the mammary arteries, which supply blood to the breast tissue. This can seriously endanger your unborn child, as it cuts off the blood supply. If possible, you may wish to wear a seatbelt extender during your pregnancy to ensure it’s not too tight.
Safety Tips for staying healthy in Crash During Pregnancy
- Wearing a seatbelt during pregnancy is important and can help keep you safe in the event of a car crash.
- Pregnant women should always wear a seatbelt and should position the lap portion of the seatbelt under their belly, across their hips, and over their thighs.
- The shoulder portion of the seatbelt should be positioned between their breasts, and never placed behind their back or under their arm.
Safety for Baby During Car Travel While Pregnant
We now know that wearing a seatbelt during pregnancy can cause damage to the unborn child. But what about the safety aspects of car travel during pregnancy? Many women worry that car travel is unsafe during pregnancy. However, for the vast majority of women, driving is completely safe as long as you’re mindful of a few basic precautions. Crucially, remember to hydrate before, during, and after your journey, and make sure to stop every couple of hours (or at least once every 30 minutes). You should also adjust the seat to ensure that your feet can rest flat on the floor and that your back is fully supported. Lastly, if you’re over your due date, avoid driving through heavy traffic, and stop regularly to alleviate any discomfort caused by contractions.
The Verdict: Is Driving Safe During Pregnancy?
It may come as a surprise that some of the most common driving hazards during pregnancy such as excessive heat and exposure to carbon monoxide are the same as in normal circumstances. It’s important to be mindful of your surroundings, but there aren’t any specific dangers that are unique to pregnant women on the road. That said, driving when pregnant isn’t without risks for either you or your unborn child.
That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated, avoid long journeys if possible, and wear a seatbelt at all times. Before you hit the road, make sure your car is in good working order to reduce the risk of overheating or engine failure. It’s also worth checking the airbags to ensure they’re not deployed.
Should You Stop Driving During Pregnancy?
Although driving itself is (for the most part) completely safe during pregnancy, there are other factors to consider. For example, public transport is often a breeding ground for germs. While you’re pregnant, you’ll also be more tired, and therefore more prone to making mistakes. Driving also requires constant focus and distractions can lead to accidents. It’s recommended that you stop driving when you’re in your third trimester and that you find an alternative to get around when you’re 36 weeks pregnant. If you experience complications, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, then you may be advised to stop driving earlier. In most cases, however, you can continue driving until the very end.
Concerning seat belts and your baby
It is extremely important that you understand that seat belts can save lives. Wearing it when you are pregnant is a bit different because of the size of your belly. Protect your baby make sure that it is secured under your little love bump at the hips covering them. It’s important not to strap it on the belly because injuries can happen easily causing catastrophic conditions in case of an accident, or even a sharp turn. Always make sure your seat belt is securely connected.
During your cold seasons, having a winter jacket could make the belt slide off easily. It might be better to take off your jacket, or sweater to drive if you can keep your car warm.
Make sure your airbags are inspected properly and turn them on.
Airbags are designed to work with your seat belt. Fasten your seat belt so the airbag doesn’t cause serious damage to you or your baby.
Moving your seat away from the steering wheel may provide a bit more comfort. Just make sure you can reach the pedals properly. Adjust your steering wheel into an upper position pointed at your chest so when the airbag activates, it will go to the right place.
If there should be an accident, don’t hesitate to see your doctor in any case. You may feel well, but it’s also to make sure your precious bundle didn’t sustain any injury.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to be mindful of the risks associated with driving while pregnant, but there’s no need to stop driving altogether. If you’re a careful and considerate driver, you can stay on the road – as long as you follow a few basic precautions. Remember to stay hydrated, avoid long journeys if possible, and wear a seatbelt at all times. If you experience any complications, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, you may be advised to stop driving earlier. In most cases, however, you can continue driving until the very end.