Driving is something you do almost every day right? But do you know anything about driving while pregnant?
Now that you’re pregnant you’ve got to consider the impact of your lifestyle of your extra passenger.
I mean think about it, pregnant women are constantly bombarded with information. You know everyone has an opinion of what you should and shouldn’t do. What to eat and drink, how to work, what medications to take.
And the reason comes down to one word: safety.
But has anyone spoken to you about the risks of driving during pregnancy?
Do you know if it’s safe to drive? How to safely wear a seatbelt?
Car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for pregnant women and unborn babies.
I feel it’s vital that you know about safe driving while pregnant. And that’s just what this guide is going to do.
The aim is to give you all the information you need to know to make an informed choice about what’s right for your family and lifestyle.
This guide is quite long so pin it to your pregnancy boards for you to read later. And if you find the information useful share it with your mommy friends.
Pin for later
Guide To Safe Driving While Pregnant
Is it safe to drive while pregnant?
Right, let’s get to the point.
If you’re feeling well during your pregnancy, it’s safe for you to drive.
You may even find you use your car more as your bump grows. Car travel can speed up your daily tasks, especially if you’re suffering ongoing pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue or pelvic pain.
If you’re diagnosed with any pregnancy complications, always check with your doctor if it’s safe to continue driving.
Should I wear a seatbelt when pregnant?
As your bump grows, you may wonder if it’s ok to use a seatbelt.
Unless you have a medical exemption certificate, you always need to wear a seatbelt when in a car. This includes being a driver or a passenger.
Safety tests have shown you are 3 x safer during a car crash when wearing a seatbelt compared to without one.
How to Wear a Seat Belt during Pregnancy
The NHTSA has safety guidelines to follow for using a seatbelt during pregnancy.
The safest way to wear your seat when pregnant is:
Shoulder belts: Place the shoulder belt over your shoulder but away from your neck. The strap should sit between your breasts.
Lap Belt: Place under your bump. The strap should rest over your hips and pelvic bone.
Tighten the belt, so it’s snug, yet comfortable.
- Place the shoulder belt behind you back
- Place the lap belt over your bump
- Sit upright and avoid reclining the seat
- Use a lap-only seatbelt, swap places if you need to.
Seat belt Issues for pregnancy
The biggest problem with using a seatbelt during pregnancy is that they are not designed for pregnant women.
In fact, seatbelt design hasn’t changed much since the 1970’s. Back in the days when pregnant women didn’t drive a lot.
Each year there are 170,000 car crashes involving pregnant women. It’s estimated 3000 of those result in pregnancy loss. That doesn’t include the injuries to babies or pregnancy complications that result.
These injuries are caused by the pressure the seatbelt puts on your belly during sudden stops or impacts.
Seat belts do make your journey three times safer, but they are not without risk.
Seat belt Solution
I know that pregnancy is full of anxiety and now driving has just been added to your list.
The reality is 4.25% of women will experience a car crash during pregnancy. Learning how to avoid the dangers is what I hope you can learn from this guide.
Now you can start walking everywhere or taking public transport. But let’s face it, you’re a busy woman with things to do right?
Pregnancy Seat Belt Adjusters
You can buy seat belt adjuster that repositions the seatbelt off your bump and onto your legs.
Seat adjusters make using a seatbelt just as safe but more comfortable and remove the risk to your pregnancy.
The Tummy Shield is a crash-tested seatbelt adjuster designed for pregnant women. It’s the perfect solution if you need that peace of mind during pregnancy.
Yes, the tummy shield is expensive, but the investment is worth it for your unborn baby’s safety. Plus you can use it for more than one pregnancy if you plan on having more babies.
There are cheaper versions available on Amazon. These may be a better option if you’re on a tight budget. However, a quick read of the reviews will tell you that the tummy shield is the best option.
Using Airbags when pregnant
Airbags are a car safety feature to protect your body during a car crash.
They are safe to use and should not be turned off when you’re pregnant. Your airbag is much more effective when used together with a seatbelt.
Airbags can be seen as risky due to the force they open with during car impact. It’s common for airbags to cause minor injuries such as friction burn or finger/wrist sprains.
For pregnant women, this can be a concern as your bump sits you closer to the wheel.
Airbag adjustments for pregnancy
If your car has the option to turn off your airbag, keep it switched on.
You’ll provide the most protection for you and your baby during a car crash by using a seatbelt and an airbag together.
If you have an adjustable steering wheel tilt it up towards your chest. That means you airbag will open on your chest area rather than your bump.
Next step is to adjust your chair to sit as far back as possible while comfortable reaching the pedals. When you’re a passenger move the chair as far back as possible.
If your bump touches the steering wheel push it inward as far as possible. If you can’t move your steering wheel consider having someone else drive if possible.
Pregnancy does not affect your driving insurance policy. You don’t need to disclose to your insurance company that you are pregnant. Your regular policy is still valid throughout your pregnancy.
You may want to inform your insurance company if you are diagnosed with any complications in pregnancy. The risk is that if you don’t and end up in a car crash, they may not pay out due to non-disclosure.
Driving through the trimesters
Most concern about driving while pregnant are focused on when your bump is bigger. However, driving in the first trimester can be scary.
In the first trimester, your risk of pregnancy loss is highest, and you experience most pregnancy symptoms. Let’s discuss the issues.
Morning sickness can make it difficult to drive. The sudden urge to vomit at any time of day can be tricky when you’re behind the wheel.
If you have severe morning sickness, it’s best to avoid driving until this passes in your pregnancy.
Tiredness is a common pregnancy symptom. If you’re finding it’s so severe, you can’t focus or concentrate, then avoid driving.
Tiredness is a major cause of car accidents. Don’t be caught short at the wheel if it’s affecting your pregnancy.
Your doctor may advise you not to drive if you have a high-risk pregnancy. This is especially important if you suffer from pregnancy complications that can result in low blood sugar, fits or visual disturbances.
In the second trimester, your baby will start to grow out of your pelvis. This takes away the bony protection of the first trimester.
Let’s discuss some issues to consider in the second trimester
As your baby grows, driving can become difficult. Make sure to make adjust your steering wheel, seat and seat belt.
I’d advice using a seat belt adjust like the Tummy Shield, to protect your baby in the case of an accident.
Your circulation is affected by your growing baby. Try some foot exercises when your car is stopped. Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes to improve the blood flow.
Your legs are prone to pain and swelling when you sit down for long periods in pregnancy.
The third trimester and so close to meeting your baby. Your bump is big and now making it difficult to get in and out of your car. Keep in mind to keep adjusting your car seat to provide a safe space for you and your baby.
Optimal fetal positioning
The modern car seat is terrible for pregnancy posture and often cause back pain. Bucket seats tilt your pelvis and can cause your baby to turn into the posterior position.
I’d recommend using a seat wedge to take the pressure off your back and get your baby in the best postion. It’s also great for angling your bump away from the airbag.
At this stage in pregnancy, it best to avoid traveling alone if possible. Sudden onset of symptoms or breaking waters can distract you while driving.
If possible try to be the passenger as much as possible during this trimester. It’s safer for you and baby in the event of a crash.
It’s completely safe for you to drive after birth. Although you may feel tired and very tender. Especially sitting down if you’ve had vaginal stitches.
C section birth
You should know that your car insurance policy is unlikely to cover driving for 6 weeks after a cesarean birth. The surgery increases your risk of injury if you’re in a car crash.
You should discuss your policy with your insurance company in the event you have a C-section birth.
Long Road Trips
There is nothing to stop you from taking a long road trip while you are pregnant.
Although I would suggest, you don’t make the trip alone.
The biggest concern on long road trips is taking regular breaks. It’s important to give your legs room to stretch.
It may seem easier just to keep driving and get the journey done, but it’s not a good idea. You greatly increase your risk of developing a blood clot if you sit for too long. That’s not a scare tactic, I’ve cared for women who this has happened to.
In fact, if you are driving for more than 4 hours I’d suggest wearing a pair of medical grade compression stockings (I love these ones). This improves your circulation and reduce your risk of developing a DVT.
7 Car Travelling Tips for pregnancy
Let’s face it, its unlikely you’ll give up driving during pregnancy. However, you should make small changes to your driving habits to reduce your risk of having an accident.
1. Stretch before
Leg cramps are common during pregnancy, especially after sitting for long periods. Gentle stretches before your begin driving can prevent the sudden onset of cramps which can cause distractions.
2. Pregnancy seat belt
Adjust your seatbelt to sit in the right position as you drive. That always means placing is under your bump and across your chest. A good seat belt adjuster like the Tummy Shield will take care of this for you.
3. Seat adjustments
Adjust your seat as your pregnancy progresses. You need to create space between the steering wheel and your belly. Also, keep your backrest upright and avoid reclining so your seatbelt fi close to your chest.
4. Eat and drink
Keeping hydrated and small snacks can stop the sudden onset of nausea or sickness. This is particularly important if you get stuck in traffic jams or have a long commute.
5. Regular Stops
If you’re driving for long periods of time make sure to take a break at least every hour. This will help the circulation to your legs and reduce your risk of blood clots.
6. Assess driving conditions
Always avoid road conditions that increase your chance of having an accident. This includes:
- Driving at night
- Poor weather conditions like rain, fog or snow
- Bad lighting
- Areas of high speed such as highways
I recommend you always keep a cell phone on you in case of an accident.
7. Keep car maintained
Regular check on your car will ensure it’s in the best condition for you to drive. Breakdowns can put you at high risk of an accident, especially on highways.
Make sure you have some breakdown cover and keep the contact details in your car.
What to do if you’re in a car crash
If you’re in a car crash, get yourself to a safe area if possible. Call 911 to inform them of the incident.
You need to get medical attention as soon as possible, even if you feel well.
A car crash greatly increases your risk of:
- Pregnancy loss
- Preterm labor
- Placental abruption
- Rhesus sensitivity (if you have rhesus negative blood)
Your doctor will give you an assessment and make a plan for you. You will most likely need to stay for observation overnight, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
Driving is something you’ll do every day, but it presents risks when you are pregnant.
This guide has shown you how to drive safely including seatbelt safety, airbag use and tips for driving during pregnancy.
Use these when you drive, and you’ll reduce your chances of a car accident or severe injury for you or your unborn baby.