Do women still drive whilst pregnant? It seems an obvious question but it’s one that gets asked a lot. And quite naturally too. Women can be more anxious than usual about their personal safety when they are pregnant – and this includes whilst driving. It’s absolutely fine to travel by car and drive the car whilst you are pregnant. Most women carry on as normal until the last few weeks of their pregnancy, however others may stop earlier if their bump makes it difficult or uncomfortable.
During the first twelve or so weeks of your pregnancy, you should take extra care whilst driving and monitor how you feel. Nausea and tiredness are just two of the symptoms of early pregnancy and both of these can affect your concentration. Don’t drive unless you feel safe to do so and if you feel unwell whilst driving, then stop and give yourself a break.
Seatbelts. By the very nature of a restricting device fitting firmly across the body, a lot of women worry about whether wearing a seatbelt is actually harmful during pregnancy. In short, the answer is no. Wearing a seatbelt is extremely important; they are designed to prevent you from being thrown from the car in the event of an accident and still offers as much protection from both minor and serious injuries to both you and other passengers.
Seatbelt guidelines in pregnancy:
- You should always wear a 3 point lap and diagonal seatbelt
- The lap belt should fit right under your bump, fitting snugly over your pelvic area and as high up on the thighs as possible
- The shoulder strap should run to the side of your bump and directly between your breasts
- It should NEVER go directly over your bump
- Sit as far back from the steering wheel as you can whilst keeping your feet in easy reach of the pedals
Historically, there has been some concern about pregnant women driving cars that are fitted with air bags. However, there is nothing to suggest that pregnant women are more at risk of harm through airbag deployment than women who are not. It’s sensible to maintain some distance between yourself and the steering wheel, but you should never turn off the airbags in a car simply because you are pregnant. Air bags are designed to work with seatbelts for maximum efficiency in a compromising situation.
Comfort for two
Whilst driving during pregnancy, you should take care to keep your circulation flowing well by doing small stretches – both in and out of the car. You can also avoid minor pregnancy complaints such as leg cramps, swollen ankles and heartburn by taking regular breaks so that you can keep moving. Exercises such as extending your heel and pointing your toe can help to prevent your muscles from stiffening up. Have a break every 90 minutes or so in order for you to walk around and, if you’re heavily pregnant, move that little foot from under your ribs!
Other tips for driving whilst pregnant include keeping snacks and water at hand to avoid dehydration and minimise any nausea, plus making sure that your energy levels don’t drop. You can also put a cushion or rolled up jumper/blanket in the small of your back to alleviate any discomfort. And if you go on a long car journey it’s worthwhile taking your antenatal notes with you and ensuring that your mobile stays fully charged – when it comes to babies, you can never be too prepared!