Many women have doubts about driving during pregnancy. Being pregnant involves a whole set of precautions, and getting behind the wheel is no exception.
With this in mind, in this article you’ll find some tips for driving during pregnancy.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you cannot drive, but there are some measures you can take to make sure that you and your baby are safe at all times.
There are two high-risk periods for mother and baby during pregnancy. These are:
- During the first trimester: this is when the risk of a placental abruption is highest, because the level of amniotic fluid is still low.
- Towards the end of your pregnancy: if you have a car accident, your chances of giving birth prematurely double over the next 48 hours.
If you’re going to be pregnant and drive, be alert and avoid over-confident driving. Make sure to always wear your seatbelt, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Tips for driving during pregnancy
At the start of pregnancy, many women experience nausea and fatigue. These types of symptoms may affect your ability to concentrate.
If you tend to feel queasy in the morning, try to take public transport instead.
If you do decide to drive, take the following precautions:
- Always consult a specialist physician before driving during pregnancy. Don’t drive when you’re suffering from contractions or pregnancy side-effects or are at risk of premature birth.
- Comfort and safety behind the wheel. Adapt the distance between your seat and the wheel to your new situation. Make sure that your clothing lies between your seatbelt and your skin to stop it from rubbing.
- Stop and rest. Avoid long trips with over 3 hours behind the wheel at a time when you’re pregnant. Stop every hour to stretch your legs, hydrate and go to the bathroom.
- Keep your distance. The correct distance between your body and the steering wheel should be around 10 inches. If your vehicle is fitted with airbags, this should be oriented towards your chest, not your abdomen.
- Good posture. Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Avoid sudden maneuvers, such as accelerating or braking sharply. Remember that staying safe behind the wheel depends on other drivers as well as yourself. Be alert!
By the final part of your pregnancy, experts recommend that you avoid driving, although it’s fine to get a ride with someone else in a vehicle.
After you give birth, your doctor will advise you when it’s safe to get back behind the wheel.
Are airbags safe for pregnant women?
Airbags aren’t dangerous for moms-to-be, as long as the minimum distance from the body is around 8 to 10 inches. In the event of a collision, the bag will inflate around your head and chest, not your stomach.
The airbag stops the seatbelt from taking too much of the impact and pressing into your abdomen.
Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, make sure that the horizontal part of your seatbelt doesn’t lie across your belly.
In the event of an accident, the pressure of the seatbelt could harm your fetus. Place the seatbelt under your abdomen, at the height of your hips. The top band should cross over your chest, between your breasts.
The best kind of seatbelt for pregnant women is one with additional anchoring points. These offer additional safety in the event of a crash.
You can buy an adapter to turn an existing seatbelt into one that wraps around your lower body and keeps your bump safe.
The correct use of a seatbelt can reduce severe fetal injury by over 50% if you do have an accident. If you refuse to buckle up, you’re at a greater risk of being thrown from the vehicle in a crash.
If necessary, you can use a small cushion or pad to make sure that the seatbelt doesn’t move around or cause discomfort as you’re driving.
Remember that pregnancy leads to changes in your metabolism. Pregnant women experience fluctuations in their blood sugar level, circulation problems, blood pressure spikes and altered vision.
All of these can affect your ability to drive. If you have any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor before driving during pregnancy.