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Pregnancy and driving: what do we need to know and what precautions should we take?

Pregnancy and driving: what do we need to know and what precautions should we take?

11/05/2016

Pregnancy is a time in a woman's life when everything changes very quickly. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes, and as the unborn baby grows, the mother's body also undergoes changes and needs to adapt. If the pregnancy is straight forward and the doctor has not restricted the mother's activities, she can carry on driving right up to the very late stages of pregnancy.

In other words, being pregnant is not an illness and should not prevent the mom-to-be from driving, far from it. You just need to pay attention to certain critical aspects that have more to do with driving posture than with other issues and, of course, continue to inform the doctor and midwife at all times in case a difficulty or problem were to arise.

COMFORT AT THE WHEEL, FUNDAMENTAL 

As previously mentioned, if there aren't any obvious complications, the mom-to-be can drive as long as she feels comfortable doing so. Some women may choose to stop driving of their own accord, but unless there's another reason there's no need to stop. It's important for the mother-to-be to feel comfortable with her driving position, which requires progressively adjusting the seat and steering wheel to fit her growing bump. It's often mistakenly thought that seat belts might harm the baby: this isn't the case. What's more, it's an invaluable safety system in the event of an accident as it protects both the mother and the unborn baby. It's true that pregnant women need to be careful about how this safety system is positioned and the belt should be placed over the thighs rather than the stomach. In this version of "DGT Magazine” they use a graphic to clearly explain how to position the seat belt during pregnancy.

To help position the seat belt and to prevent it from "scooting" up, there are adapters to keep it in the correct position. These should be properly certified.

As the unborn baby grows the mom-to-be should adapt her posture at the wheel. The most important advice to the mom-to-be is her back should be as straight as possible, and the minimum distance between her and the steering wheel should be 20 cm. This minimum distance is recommended because of the airbag, which is not dangerous for the mom-to-be nor the unborn baby. As the weeks progress, one gets "closer" to the wheel and the driving posture should be adjusted often.

The page “Doctors for Road Safety” explains the two periods of greatest risk for driving during pregnancy:

“During these nine months, there are two periods of high risk for both the mother-to-be and the unborn baby: the first three months (when there is a greater risk of placental detachment or uterine tearing, as there is very little amniotic fluid); and during the last stage of pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters, the main problems are: detachment of the placenta, hemorrhaging, uterine tearing and direct injury to the fetus"

Also, if the pregnant woman has to undertake a trip that lasts more than three hours she should ensure she makes frequent stops to stretch her legs, have a drink and use the bathroom. She should not sit in the same position for more than two hours and the best rule of thumb to remember is to stop whenever your body tells you to. Don't be in a rush to finish a trip as your well-being comes first.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT?

The risk of being in an accident at the wheel during pregnancy exists, of course. The main consequences of an accident can range from death to detachment of the placenta, hemorrhaging, miscarriage, early labor, fetal injuries etc. Premature labor is twice as likely to occur during the 48 hours following an accident.

Any mom-to-be who's been in a car accident needs to immediately inform her gynecologist so she can undergo the necessary tests to diagnose any problems and verify her health and that of the unborn baby. You should visit the doctor regardless of how minor the accident was, as the health of the unborn baby and mother-to-be can only be assured through the proper tests.

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