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Things you should never do when driving while pregnant

Things you should never do when driving while pregnant


Pregnancy is a hugely important stage and protection should be paramount the very first moment. A common misconception is that wearing a seat belt could harm the baby, but it is important to fit it correctly, which people often fail to do. This article describes the things that you should never do when driving while pregnant.

In the guide, 'Infant and child safety in cars: car seats' by Fundación MAPFRE and the Spanish Federation of Midwives Associations (FAME) you will find information and advice for both during the pregnancy and, most importantly, after the child is born. It contains recommendations on the safest way to travel with a newborn baby, how to travel with children aged one to four, and what to do once the child is older and can move on to using a seat belt.

In addition, Fundación MAPFRE has organized a draw for 10 Group 0+ Pebble child seats from the Bébé Confort range.

The campaign has concluded on 31 December 2016 and the draw will be held on 15 January 2017 in Madrid before a Notary Public.

See the rules for the draw (spanish).


1. Drive without using a seat belt, or wearing a badly-fitting one. Using this crucial safety system is the best way of protecting both mother and baby.  The lower strap of the belt should go just below the abdomen and just above the hip bones. Meanwhile, the upper strap should go across the middle of the sternum and clavicle, without lying too close to the neck. It is important that the upper strap does not lie directly across the bump or over a breast, and that it does not go underneath the arm or armpit.

2. Ignoring the instructions of your doctor or midwife. Generally speaking, it is safe to drive during most of your pregnancy. However, if your specialist or midwife has told you to stop driving for any reason, especially for medical reasons, you must abide by that recommendation. Womens bodies go through many phases and changes during pregnancy and any of these can influence your ability to continue driving. Whatever the case, we recommend that you stop driving during the very last weeks of your pregnancy.

3. Continue driving even when your bump; is too close to the steering wheel. We strongly recommend that you stop driving as soon as your bump, and hence the baby, gets too close to the steering wheel (about 20 cm). 

4. Something else you should never do when driving while pregnant is failing to rest enough or doing inappropriate tasks that entail a lot of effort. You should increase the number of stops you make to stretch your legs and it goes without saying that you should avoid doing anything that entails undue effort, such as changing a wheel or lifting suitcases in or out of the car.

5. Not adapting the seat and the steering wheel to your new circumstances. Your physical circumstances have now changed and therefore you need to alter the height and position of the car seat. You need to increase the distance between the seat and the steering wheel/windscreen as far as possible (there is no need to deactivate the airbag) and make sure that the head rest is in the right position to protect your head and neck. Don't forget to adjust the side mirrors if you have moved the seat. You also need to adjust the height and position of the steering wheel. Make sure it is tilted towards the chest; never towards the head or the abdomen. You should also try to ensure that the seat is in a vertical position. 

6. Traveling without something to eat or drink in the car. It is important that pregnant women take care to have everything they may need to hand. You should always have water in the car to make sure you're properly hydrated and biscuits or fruit juice in case you feel sick. 

7. Your doctor or midwife may recommend that you don't use the seat belt for health reasons. We certainly don't recommend that you ignore their advice. For this reason, you should really think about the option of not traveling by car at all or, if you really have to, limiting your journeys as much as possible. 

8. Another common mistake is using cushions or pillows on the car seat or clips to make the seat belt looser. Wherever possible you should avoid doing anything that might loosen the seat belt or in any other way affect its operation. 

9. Another mistake is not going to your doctor if you are involved in a minor collision. You may think that it is nothing to worry about, but it is important to visit your doctor or specialist so they can check that everything is in order. 

10. And something that of course we mustn't overlook is  how to travel with the baby once you've given birth, i.e. leaving the hospital and from then onwards. You need to remember that a newborn baby must be placed in the appropriate child restraint system from the very first time they are driven in a car.

Recommended reading: 'Advice on pregnancy and driving'

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