During pregnancy, a woman’s everyday activities could have positive or negative effects on their baby. Driving while pregnant is one of them. Doctors do not advise women against driving during pregnancy but there are certain safety precautions they could take to prevent serious injuries in the event of a car accident. According to a study by the University of Michigan, 370 fetuses die each year in the U.S. as a result of car wrecks. Our team has outlined some safety tips pregnant women can follow while driving.
Use the seat belt correctly.
As your belly grows the seat belt can feel uncomfortable and awkward and you may not be able to use it properly. It is recommended that you avoid driving with the seatbelt pressing on your stomach. If you were involved in a car accident, the pressure from the seatbelt in this area of the body could be dangerous for the baby. The lap belt should be placed below your belly and fit close across your upper thighs, while the shoulder belt should be worn across your shoulders and over your chest.
Don’t drive drowsy.
Pregnancy can make women feel extremely fatigued or drowsy, driving drowsy can cause a serious car accident. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while sleep deprived can cause similar effects on your body as driving while intoxicated. Drowsy driving can make it hard to concentrate on the road. Watch for signs of drowsiness such as heavy eyelids, trouble concentrating, constant yawning, and daydreaming. If needed, pull over to a safe place to rest for a few minutes before getting back on the road.
Don’t drive if you’re not feeling well.
The constant fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy may cause women to experience many symptoms such as nausea, drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, and others that could make driving dangerous. If you feel too sick or tired, try to avoid driving. Driving while feeling sick could make it hard to concentrate on the road and cause a car accident. Ask for someone to drive you if you don’t feel well enough to do so yourself.
Drive in a safe and comfortable position.
Make sure you aren’t driving too close to the steering wheel if you sit too close your belly can hit the steering wheel in an accident. Protect your stomach by placing the steering wheel towards your upper body. If the airbag is deployed it will still protect your chest and upper body but it won’t directly hit your belly. Find a position where you are comfortable and can properly maneuver the steering wheel and have good visibility. A safe position can make a difference in the case of a car accident.
Listen to your body before driving.
If you don’t feel sick but don’t feel comfortable or safe driving anymore, ask friends or family members for help. Listen to your body and make the right decision for your safety. If you feel healthy enough to drive until you give birth, make sure you follow road rules and drive as safely as possible.
A few changes in your driving position and behaviors can make a difference if involved in a car accident. If you do suffer a collision, visit the hospital immediately to make sure you and the baby are safe. Even if it’s a minor accident with no visible injuries, it’s important to get a checkup and make sure that the baby isn’t in danger from the collision.