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At what point is it safe to drive or ride in a car again after having your baby?

¿En qué momento se puede volver a conducir o viajar en coche después de tener  a tu bebé?

05/05/2021

Giving birth is a unique experience and unrepeatable. Regardless of the type of birth, the mother has undergone significant physical changes and a lot of strain. Giving birth is a unique and unrepeatable experience. After 9 months of pregnancy and then giving birth, a new life begins with her baby. Safety in the car is an element that must not be overseen. When is the best time to travel? When can I drive again? How should the first car trip with my child be? Here we answer all your questions. 

We must keep in mind that the body needs time to recover after nine months pregnancy and the hard work of childbirth. We know that many of your are eager to start driving again. Of course, its a practical way of getting around. However, don´t be in too much of a hurry to do so. 

We have often addressed the topic of the right time to stop driving or traveling when pregnant. It will, of course, depend on each person's  condition and medical recommendations. Here we look closer at this matter. 

After a woman has given birth, we must remember that she has gone through physical and psychological changes.In general, it is recommended to wait 3 weeks or 1 month after an uncomplicated delivery, and not earlier than 6 weeks after a cesarean. Of course, our recommendation is always to consult with medical professionals regarding the best time to drive or travel by car. 

Midwife María Sánchez de Miguel points out that "the most appropriate time is when the woman feels that she is physically and emotionally capable". She points out that both mother and baby go through many phases after delivery: "in the first after childbirth phase, the care of the mother and baby is essential and until both are in sync, car trips are complicated, especially if it is the first baby or a single motherhood," she highlights. 

"Choosing the right time to travel by car will greatly depend on how the mother is feeling and the actual need to travel, whether she is the driver or the passenger, and the length of the trip," says Maria. 

She also points out that most mothers who have had an uncomplicated natural delivery are likely to be able to drive sooner. We must not forget that a cesarean is a major surgery that requires a post-surgical recovery. However, "each woman's recovery and physical condition depends very much on each individual woman". As well as taking into account the type of birth, it is also important to consider if there were any complications, the pelvic floor or the emotional condition.

Midwife María Sánchez de Miguel indicates that driving too soon can make a mother uncomfortable, especially if only a few days have pasted since the childbirth and she has perineal discomfort. If you are traveling with a newborn, "driving before you are ready could generate fear and risky situations on the road, as it is difficult to pay attention to driving while your baby is crying". If traveling as a passenger, she admits it is difficult to overcome the temptation of picking up the baby if she/he is crying or if he/she needs a diaper change. Here she insists, the newborn should not be removed from the child restraint system until the vehicle has stopped in a safe place away from traffic. 

TIPS FOR THE FIRST TRIPS WITH YOUR BABY

-Dedicate the necessary time to correctly install the child restraint system and properly adjust the harness. We remind you that car seats for babies usually have a reducer to make him/her safer and more protected, as well as providing more ergonomics. 

-Place the child restraint system in the rear seat and in the most suitable place. If the seat has Isofix anchorages, we recommend placing it on the seat behind the front passenger, as it is difficult to find this anchorage in the center seat. If so, it is preferable to place the baby and his/her car seat in the center.

The midwife reminds us: "Don't forget to adjust the angle so the newborn's head does not fall towards his/her body". 

-Always place the child in the child car seat without a coat on, as it can give a false sense of being well-secured. Remember that the harness should fit tightly. 

-The baby must of course always travel facing backwards and it is compulsory to do so for at least the first 15 months. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using car seats that allow the child to travel facing backwards for as long as possible and up to a minimum of 4 years old. 

-Under no circumstances should an infant be placed in a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat unless the airbag has been previously deactivated.

-Planning the journey, especially these first trips, is key. We suggest to leave with plenty time as first we have to place the baby in his/her car seat, then put the luggage in the car, and we also have to leave time for any unforeseen events. "Knowing your baby's sleep/rest and feeding times before starting the journey can be helpful in planning the trip," Maria Sanchez points out .

-If your baby is premature, follow the recommendations in this article.

Here we offer more tips for a newborn's first car trip.

-Don't forget to buckle your seat belt and position your seat properly for better driving. The upper part of the seat belt should pass over the middle of the sternum and collar bone, without sitting too close to the neck. -The lower strap should sit over the hip bones, not over the stomach. 

-Stop the vehicle in a safe place away from traffic if you need to attend to your baby. It is advisable to place a mirror at the back through which you can observe your newborn without having to turn your head. 

-It is advisable that during the first trips you are accompanied in case of possible unforeseen events, both to help you take care of the baby and to offer you help if you need it. 

Finally, here we address everything necessary for the safe transport of the mother and the newborn.

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