Pregnancy comes with many responsibilities: an expectant mother may have to forego several things for her and the baby’s safety. Doctors advise against strenuous activities during this time, which brings us to our main question: Is driving safe during pregnancy?
The answer to this question depends on various factors, such as your overall health and comfort. You should avoid the steering wheel if you do not feel comfortable.
There is plenty to know about this topic for your safety. Sit tight as we tackle your concerns about driving when pregnant and tips to rely on for a smooth time on the road.
Is It Safe to Drive During Pregnancy?
Generally, it is safe for expectant mothers to drive as long as they are comfortable and can easily access their necessities in the car. Pregnancy is not an illness, and rarely can it impair judgment while on the road, except in certain situations. Moreover, an occasional drive can be therapeutic, helping you cope with some physiological changes that you are experiencing.
If you decide to hit the road when pregnant, you should ensure that your vehicle is in good shape. The interior should be clean, as your immune response is relatively low, making you susceptible to infections. In addition, you should observe traffic rules to avoid any mishaps on the road. It is advisable to avoid driving at night due to poor visuals unless necessary.
You should wear a seatbelt when driving for your safety. Many mothers-to-be complain that seatbelts are uncomfortable; it is comfortable if worn correctly. The horizontal strap should not go over the belly; instead, it should go over the hips. You may consider getting seatbelt adaptors for easy use. Furthermore, you should maintain at least a 25-centimeter distance away from the steering wheel.
Is it safe to go on a road trip when pregnant? A road trip is an excellent way to get out of the house and experience nature, which may be hard for most who are expecting. Nonetheless, you should not be at the wheel during the journey, as it may stress you. Also, you may want to decline a road trip offer if your due date is near: you don’t want to get into labor far from reliable medical services.
Risk Factors to Drive During Pregnancy
Still on, if is it okay to drive during pregnancy, you should be aware of some risk factors that may prevent you from turning the ignition on. Let us look at these factors for better comprehension.
The Pregnancy Trimester
Pregnancy trimesters refer to the three-month periods from conception to birth. You may want to avoid driving during the first trimester and the last weeks of the third trimester. Driving during pregnancy first trimester is risky because of the high risk of the placenta detaching or uterine rupture in case of an accident. Additionally, the amniotic fluid is little and won’t provide the best shock absorption.
Keep in mind that miscarriages mostly happen in the first trimester. In case of injury, you may need to take some medication, which can affect the fetus leading to a miscarriage.
The last weeks to your due date are risky due to the stress of the extra weight. You may be sluggish at this time and prone to dozing off, which may be fatal if you are behind the wheel.
Driving while pregnant, second trimester is manageable for many, as they are used to their pregnancy, and the fetus’s support organs, like the placenta, are well formed. Nevertheless, some studies (cmaj.ca) paint the second trimester as the most dangerous on the road, owing to the spike in hormonal levels, which may bring about fatigue and sleeplessness.
Pre-existing Health Conditions
Some health conditions may take a toll on your body. With pregnancy in the mix, the situation becomes more delicate, and your doctor may advice against some tasks, including driving, as your body is not at 100%.
The conditions include high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune and kidney diseases. You may take medication for the ailments which make your body weaker. Some meds may make you drowsy, requiring you to avoid driving and operating machinery.
Getting pregnant for the first time at over 30 years of age comes with many complications, such as gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes. These are severe conditions that can cause shock when on the wheel or in a remote place. Moreover, age comes with other complications that can get worse with pregnancy.
The Poor State of The Vehicle
Besides the physiological factors mentioned, your car can also be a risk, especially if not well-maintained. You don’t want to leave the house only to discover that you have a flat tire or the engine is acting up. Such problems may have you stranded, which can spike your stress levels. You must avoid physical or mental stress when pregnant for your sake and the fetus’ health.
You can have an experienced hand to perform the necessary care on your car before driving off. Additionally, driving with someone to help you with any eventualities when on the road is a good idea.
When To Stop Driving When Pregnant
As a good driver, you should know when to stop driving when pregnant. Keeping off the road when you know your situation won’t allow you to drive well is a selfless act, as you protect your life, that of your unborn child, and other road users. Below are some situations that require you to stop driving when expectant.
If You Feel Sick or Nauseous
Driving when sick or nauseous is challenging and can get very uncomfortable if you are traveling for long distances. Do not force yourself behind the wheel, as things can get out of hand, prompting an impromptu visit to the emergency room.
The Doctor’s Advice
You should heed your doctor’s advice for your safety. If your doctor tells you to avoid driving when pregnant, you should follow their words and keep off the road for some time. They may have prescribed some medication that makes you drowsy or something closer.
Also, it may be for you to keep your stress levels under control. Driving can be a stressor, especially when you factor in traffic and the occasional road rage.
You Are Not Comfortable in The Driver’s Seat
Driving when pregnant requires you to adjust the seat for your comfort. The bulge may sometimes be big, especially when your due date is almost; hence, you may have difficulty getting behind the wheel. If you are not comfortable in the driver’s seat, despite adjustments, let someone else take charge.
If You Cannot Be Attentive on The Road
Pregnancy can take a toll on some expectant mothers, bringing issues like heartburn, nausea, anxiety, stress, and more. Such conditions can hinder concentration, thus, flawing your judgment on the road, which can be hazardous.
When In Labor
Labor signals the conclusion of the 9-month journey to motherhood. It can be painful and draining, calling for you to take the backseat as you go to the hospital for attention. Do not drive yourself to the hospital when in labor, as the pain can be intense and cloud your concentration when driving. Consider other forms of transport like a taxi or an ambulance to take you to the delivery room.
Furthermore, you should keep off the steering wheel if the vehicle is not in a roadworthy condition.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Q: Is It Safe to Have a Long Drive When Pregnant?
It is normal to want a change of environment when pregnant, which is why you may opt for a long drive. It can be therapeutic and help you control anxiety and stress plaguing you at this crucial moment. While the drive might be helpful, it is better to have an extra hand to take over the wheel when you get tired.
Driving for long can stress you, especially if you drive on congested roads. Make regular pit stops to relieve yourself when necessary. Also, stock up on snacks to beat the occasional hanger pangs. Don’t forget to wear your seatbelt.
Q: Do Bumpy Roads Affect Pregnancy?
Driving over bumpy roads does not directly affect pregnancy, as the amniotic fluid is an excellent shock absorber. However, it can be severe if the bumpy drive it too much, leading to the mother’s injury.
Some ladies do not like the bumps, which can affect their moods, making them stressed. Elevated stress levels increase the chances of premature births.
Q: Where Should a Pregnant Woman Sit in A Car?
If not driving, the ideal place for a pregnant woman to sit in a car is the back seat. They should put their seatbelts on and make necessary adjustments to the seat for their comfort. The front seats may feel congested in their state, contributing to nausea and general discomfort.
Q: Can You Drive At 8-Months Pregnant?
It is possible to drive when 8-months pregnant, provided you can take the wheel comfortably. Nonetheless, if you feel sick or your tummy is too close to the steering wheel, you can take the back seat until your full recovery after delivery.
Q: Can Driving Cause Miscarriage?
Driving is mostly safe and cannot cause miscarriage unless the pregnant woman gets involved in an accident. The impact can cause a miscarriage, especially during the first trimester, as the placenta is still weak and can detach while there is not enough amniotic fluid to absorb the shock.
Q: Should I Wear a Seatbelt?
A seatbelt is a car safety accessory you should wear every time you drive. If pregnant, you pass the horizontal part of the belt across the hips, not the tummy, to avoid discomfort. Always ensure the seatbelts are in working condition. Look up tips for dealing with a stuck seatbelt, where you can use a screwdriver or pair of pliers to unlock it.
Is it safe to drive during pregnancy? Many pregnant women ask this question, wondering how secure it is to hit the road. It is safe to drive, but you must ensure the vehicle is in okay shape and that you are cozy enough to drive without complications.
You should wear a seatbelt and adjust the seats accordingly: you should not be too close to the steering wheel. It is wise to avoid driving if you feel nauseous, drowsy, or in labor, as it may be too draining in your state, exposing you to traffic dangers. You may take alternative forms of transport or let someone else drive.