Pregnancy and driving: what you need to know

Important things to know for pregnant drivers

Pregnancy comes with all sorts of everyday challenges, yet it’s amazing how much you’re still able to do. During the first stages of your pregnancy, getting out and about is something you’ll still want or need to do and as long as you have a healthy pregnancy, you can carry on driving.

Arrive Alive suggests the following tips for pregnant drivers:

  • Make sure your seat is positioned comfortable and not too close to the steering wheel (in case of an accident and the air bag deploys).
  • Leave some space (at least 10 cm) between your belly and steering wheel, bend back slightly. [Whilst still able to observe]
  • If possible -use a vehicle with adjustable steering wheels and seats so that you can customize your seating position to optimize your control over the car.
  • Check your view out of your mirrors if you push your seat back or change the height of the steering wheel.
  • Make sure that after you adjust your seat you can still comfortably reach the accelerator, brake, and clutch – if you are stretching to reach the pedals, it could affect your reaction time.
  • Remove coats or jackets that restrict your ability to move freely behind the wheel and learn to rely on the heating system of the vehicle to keep you warm.
  • If you suffer from pains in back, massage seat nets, wattle of wooden balls or tarpaulin ones with air gap will be of great help for you.
  • During a long trip stop and have some rest – leave the car, walk for a while, stretch yourself, do everything to relax and relieve tension.
  • Feet and ankles are prone to swelling in pregnancy and can be worsened by sitting still for too long.
  • Whilst you’re a passenger in the car you can gently move your feet around, rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes.
  • Take small snacks and water with you on journeys as your body now demands better sustenance throughout the day.
  • Always bring a lumbar support (it can be a small pillow or rolled up sweater or small blanket). Position the lumbar support against the lower curve of your back, and reposition until your find the spot that feels best.
  • If your back is sore, think about bringing along a heat or cold pack that you can use to help reduce discomfort.
  • If you’re suffering from morning sickness, you may feel nauseous in the car. Try sucking on crystallized ginger, as it’s a great natural remedy for nausea.
  • Avoid travelling alone, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
  • Ensure you’re enrolled with a breakdown service in case of emergencies.
  • Always carry a mobile phone with you – Also take your passport, medical insurance and medical record with you. Put a paper with your close people`s contacts in your documents.
  • If you’re driving in winter conditions pack warm clothing, some snacks, water and blankets in case of car trouble.
  • Avoid places where good medical care is not available or where changes in climate, food or altitude could cause you problems.

Buckling up is of course your biggest priority, but it’s important that you wear your seat belt correctly:

  • It’s a common worry during pregnancy that if you wear a seatbelt it might put too much pressure on your stomach and your baby, especially if an accident occurs.
  • Studies have found that it’s safer for both mum and baby if you do wear a seatbelt and is much more dangerous to not wear one at all.
  • Whilst wearing a seat belt during pregnancy may not be comfortable, it will improve safety for both mother and baby.
  • When you must do the driving, learn to place the seat belt in the correct position – There is definitely a correct way to wear a seat belt.
  • Place the lap-belt part of the restraint under your abdomen and across your upper thighs so it’s snug and comfortable – The lap belt should never ever be placed on or above your belly.
  • Wearing a lap belt alone will do more harm than good. Research done by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found that rapid deceleration in a crash caused injuries to the unborn baby when a pregnant woman was only wearing a lap belt.
  • Adjust your sitting position so the belt crosses your shoulder without cutting into your neck.
  • The shoulder belt should cross over your collar bone and lay between your breasts. It should be positioned so that it does not hit your neck.
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
  • When travelling in cars fitted with air bags, the front seat (whether it be the driving seat or the passenger seat) should be pushed back as far as practical.
  • The belt should be worn as tight as possible -In this way the forces applied in a sudden impact can be absorbed by the body’s frame.

Source: Arrive Alive