Congratulations mommy! You are finally pregnant and about to welcome a new member to your family. And at this critical time, everyone around you seems to offer you advice – ‘don’t lift heavy weights’, ‘don’t eat gassy food’ and ‘don’t drive’, are just some of the things you hear.
If you were a keen motorist before you became pregnant, you may wonder whether you should or shouldn’t drive during pregnancy. If you are looking for some safety information, or some dos and don’ts of driving at this time, consider reading our post below. Here, we talk about driving during pregnancy and what tips you should follow.
Why Should You Drive Safely During Pregnancy?
A research in Canada says expecting mothers are more likely to have car crashes, which does not mean you have to delegate the driving part to men. It just means you need to be careful and take all the necessary precautions while driving. The study also finds that the risk of crash decreases after the woman enters her third trimester (1).
Reasons To Be Careful While Driving During Pregnancy:
Apart from running the risk of crashing your car, there are other reasons you should be extra careful while driving, especially if you are expecting:
- Small, transitory lapses of attention due to fatigue, stress and insomnia can be disastrous when driving.
- Information also says that accident rate drops drastically post pregnancy. It may be because of the cranky, crying and demanding baby.
- It is advisable to avoid driving during the first trimester as that is the period one needs to take maximum care.
- A study on pregnant women concludes that the number of accidents didn’t increase in those who lived in rural areas. Those living in the city can rely on public transportation for conveyance (2).
- Long periods of not moving in the car can increase the risk of blood clots in veins of the leg; these clots can also circulate and lodge in other parts of the body like the lungs.
- The risk of a long distance travel increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis if you weigh more than 100kg, if you have multiple pregnancies and if there is a family member who has had deep vein thrombosis.
- If you are driving for a long distance, exercise your legs frequently. Take a short walk when you take a break and be sure to avoid dehydration (3).
Things To Remember When Driving During Pregnancy:
All expecting mothers do anything and everything to protect their little one. Most moms can continue driving through their pregnancy, and it is safe until the last weeks. However, you need to take some precautions, which include:
1. Never Forget To Use The Seatbelt:
Using the seat belt can protect you to a great extent, as research says there are close to 170,000 car crashes that involve pregnant women every year. Use both the shoulder and lap harness. Make sure you keep the lap belt below the baby bump. During winters remove your coat so that the belt stays in place. Use the shoulder strap over the shoulder and between the breasts.
2. Put The Seat Back:
If you are driving, have the seat as back as possible from the steering wheel. The further away you are from the wheel, the lesser damage you receive during a collision. If there is a collision, even if it is minor, see a doctor. If you are short, special car pedal extenders can help you operate from a further distance than you normally sit. Practice on these car pedal extenders before you take to the streets.
3. Use Airbags:
You might be tempted to remove the airbag, and you’ve probably heard someone tell someone else that airbags can your baby and you. But, that’s just a myth, and no research can confirm it. Experts say airbags are the best for both the mother and the baby in an event of a collision.
4. Carry A Phone:
Always carry a mobile phone and drive on the left side of the road. In case of breakdown, you might need to call for help.
5. Avoid Dehydration:
If you feel light-headed, weak or dizzy while driving it might be a sign of being dehydrated. In such cases seek shade, stop the car and drink plenty of water. You might also want to lie down for a while as soon as you reach home. Dizziness may also indicate a drop in blood sugar. It is alright to have a quick snack like fruit or a piece of toast.
6. Be Prepared:
When you are pregnant, there are certain preparations you need to make before you start driving. If travelling long distances, try to locate the clinic closest to the place you are visiting. If you are in a different country, have a list of doctors with you in case of emergency.
7. Don’t Get Distracted:
Cut down on all distractions and get rid of anything that can divert your attention from the road.
8. Avoid Bad Weather:
Do not drive in poor weather conditions, especially when it is raining heavily.
Alternative Modes Of Transportation And Things One Should Know:
If you aren’t convinced about your driving skills, you can consider opting for other forms of transportation during pregnancy. Here are some tips on alternative modes of transportation:
- The best time for long distance travel is the middle of your pregnancy. Do not plan to travel in the first and third trimester as it is the most sensitive period.
- If you are planning a long road trip, limit the drive to a few hours before you get down and stretch. Make sure you wear the seatbelt, even if you are not driving.
- Avoid jetting off during the first three months and the last month of your pregnancy. If you must travel, do so during the second trimester and book an aisle seat so that it is easier for you to get up and stretch. It is a good idea to avoid gassy foods before your flight.
- If you are travelling by ship, ask your doctor to prescribe a few medicines that you can carry in case of motion sickness.
- Travelling by ships can also cause norovirus infection. This infection is highly contagious and can spread quickly. People can usually get infected by food, water/liquids, or even by touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus.
Driving a car while you’re expecting is safe if you have a healthy pregnancy. You can always speak to your doctor if you are skeptical about driving. In case you suffer from severe nausea, avoid driving right after your meal. Your body needs to be stress-free during pregnancy, so make sure you get enough sleep and rest whenever possible.
Did you drive during your pregnancy? Do you have any tips for fellow moms? Share your experience with us. Leave a comment below!
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