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Pregnancy & Driving

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Tips to drive safely and comfortably while pregnant

Many people question whether it is safe to for women to drive while they are pregnant.

For sure, risk factors exist for mother and unborn baby. If the pregnant woman gets into a traffic accident and suffers trauma to her abdomen, the foetus can be adversely affected, especially if the woman is in her third trimester. As the woman’s belly grows, being behind the wheel becomes less comfortable and she may find it difficult to reach the pedals.

Despite these concerns, the short answer to the above question is, “Yes, it is!” — provided you take precautions and drive responsibly.

Tune in to your body
It is common to experience tiredness and nausea during pregnancy. This can inhibit your response to hazards. So, before starting on your trip, check in with how you are feeling.

If you are experiencing waves of nausea or are feeling unwell, take a rest, have a snack, and see how you feel after that. If you get better, go ahead and drive; otherwise, get someone else to drive you or call a taxi.

It may seem obvious, but avoid driving when you are in labour. Get someone else to do it instead.

Buckle up correctly
Being pregnant is not an excuse for you to avoid wearing a seat belt. If anything, it’s even more important that you do so, and do it correctly.

Wearing a seat belt has been shown to be three times safer than not wearing one during pregnancy. Use a three-point seat belt rather than just a lap belt. When adjusting the waist strap of your seat belt, put it below your abdomen, not across it. This is because a seat belt across your bump can place unnecessary pressure on your foetus. The shoulder strap should run across your chest and off to the side of your belly.

Wear your seat belt even if your car has an airbag, and resist resting against the side storage airbag compartment in case the airbag deploys.

Adjust your seat
All car occupants — not just pregnant women — should move their seat as far back as possible and tilt it slightly backwards. If you are driving, you need to be able to sit as far back from the wheel as possible while still being able to reach it to steer.

Try to position yourself such that your breastbone is at least 10 inches from the steering wheel. Tilt the steering wheel toward your breastbone rather than toward your abdomen so that, if the airbag deploys, it doesn’t do so directly into your abdomen.

Support your back
As your pregnancy progresses, back pain may be a common occurrence. Have a lumbar support (e.g. a small pillow or rolled up towel) in the car. Position the lumbar support against the lower curve of your back, and adjust it until your find the spot that feels most comfortable. A heat or cold pack can also be used to enhance comfort.