Elderly women caution us to walk carefully when we are pregnant. No rushing down a bumpy road or stepping on the stones lest you fall and hurt yourself and the baby. Falling during pregnancy can be worrying. But do you know that your body is designed to protect your fetus from any injuries? The amniotic sac encloses your baby to protect from a certain amount of impact. Therefore, minor falls will have few repercussions. Any injury should be severe enough to hurt the mother before it directly harms the baby.
MomJunction explains the reasons for falling during this delicate time and when the situation could be dangerous for your baby.
What Are The Reasons For Falling During Pregnancy?
According to one research study, around 27% pregnant women fall at least once when they are pregnant and 10% fall more than once. One of the annoying facts is 29% women suffer from trauma due to falls (1).
It is not that the falls are unavoidable during pregnancy. However, there are many reasons why pregnancy may make you lose the balance:
1. Alteration in the center of gravity:
The growing bump makes it difficult to balance your body as the center of gravity is shifting. Therefore, there may be chances of fall, especially on uneven surfaces.
2. Pregnancy hormone relaxin:
Relaxin hormones, which help you relax the joints and ligaments, also affect your movement and walk. This hormone eventually enables the tissues of the pelvis and cervix to stretch during labor, thus making it easier for you to push the baby (2). These loose joints can cause instability in your feet, making you vulnerable to fall.
[ Read: Risks Of Blood Pressure During Pregnancy ]
3. Low blood sugar and blood pressure:
These conditions, which are common during pregnancy, can also make women feel dizzy and lose balance while walking.
4. Swelling of feet makes your steps clumsy and feet a little nub. You would not feel the steps as clearly as you were doing it earlier.
5. Pregnancy will make you uncomfortable, exhausted and overwhelmed, all of which can put you at the risk of a fall.
Can Falling During Pregnancy Harm Your Baby?
As long as you are not severely hurt during a fall, it is unlikely for your baby to experience an injury. It is because your fetus is well protected by:
- Amniotic sac and its fluid, which gives a cushioning effect (3)
- Thick and muscular uterus
- Abdominal muscles and fats
- Pelvic bone
The combination of all the above structures minimizes the movement of your baby within the womb, and reduces the risks due to minor accidents. If the fall is major and causes you a severe injury, then it is likely that your baby is also affected.
When Can A Fall Be Dangerous?
The impact of a fall differs for both pregnant mom and baby depending on four main factors:
1. Mother’s age:
The chances of complications of the fall increase with the age. For women over 35 years, the difficulties would be high (4). In this case, you should seek medical advice immediately even if there are no serious symptoms.
As long as you don’t fall flat on your face or hurt your stomach, you should be fine. Many women fall on their back or side and don’t have any trouble, apart from the pain in that area. Support yourself with both hands when you are falling.
The impact of your fall also depends on the surface – hard or soft. However, many women have fallen on concrete surfaces or slipped from stairs but delivered perfectly healthy babies.
[ Read: Stages Of Pregnancy ]
4. Stage of pregnancy:
The effect of the accident also depends on the stage of your pregnancy during which you fell. What might be safe in the first trimester may not be so in the third. The risk factor increases in the later trimesters. The reason is that the baby is closer to the surface, grown to a decent size and is in the inverted posture, with her head down.
Falling During First Trimester Of Pregnancy:
In your early pregnancy, the uterus remains within the pelvis and is safely protected by the pelvic floor. Therefore, a fall will have less impact on your baby or placenta during the first trimester. If you have fallen, just lie down for some time and relax. But if you are worried or are experiencing any back or abdominal pain, seek medical care.
Falling During Second Trimester:
In the second trimester, the uterus will not be tucked in the pelvic floor. However, there are all the other protection covers which shield the baby. You may face some complications in the second trimester, especially if you fall over your tummy. You should seek medical care if:
- You experience severe pain from the fall
- The fetal movement seems to be reduced
- There is vaginal spotting or bleeding
- You develop uterine contractions
- You feel breathless or dizzy
- You feel tenderness in the abdomen
Falling During Third Trimester:
As you enter into your third trimester, the chances of harm will increase for both you and the baby (5). Also, you are more vulnerable to falls during this time due to fatigue and clumsiness. If you have a severe fall, the damage will be more to the placenta than to any other part. It is because the abdominal trauma will increase the chance of pulling the placenta from the uterine wall. The warning signs which alert you to seek medical care include:
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding
- Leakage of the amniotic fluid
- Decreased fetal movements
- Feeling dizzy and fainting
- Contractions in the uterine wall
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
Falls in the third trimester could lead to premature labor. Therefore, even if you do not have any of the above symptoms from a fall, you should still seek medical advice. The doctor will do an ultrasound scan to check your condition.
Testing For Injury Due To Fall:
- Your doctor may initially check for any injuries and give an appropriate treatment. The injury can be a sprained or broken bone, or chest injury which affects your breathing pattern.
- Then, your doctor monitors your baby; she may measure the fetal heart tones with the help of an ultrasound or Doppler. She may ask you for certain signs such as uterine bleeding, tenderness, and contractions.
- Continuous electronic fetal monitoring may help your doctor determine if you could have any complications like placental abruption or abnormal heart rate.
- Blood testing is also recommended to check the blood type and platelet count. It is because pregnant women who are Rh negative are at higher risk of developing internal bleeding that can affect their fetus. Doctors also recommend Rho-GAM shot to prevent any problems related to blood type incompatibility.
There are many ill-conceived notions about women falling during pregnancy. Here are some common fears:
- Falling will cause miscarriage.
- It will damage your uterus or fallopian tubes.
- Baby might get fractures.
- The brain of the child may get affected.
Most of these ideas are born out of old wives’ tales and soap operas. Do not pay any heed to them.
How Can You Prevent Yourself From Falling And Slipping?
You cannot prevent the falls always. However, if proper precautions are taken, you can minimize the risk.
- Lean on some strong support or sit down if you are feeling dizzy.
- Wear footwear with non-skid soles and proper grip. You can use wedge-heeled or low-heeled shoes so that your body cannot pitch forward. Avoid high heels and complete flats as they cause extra strain on the lower back and calf muscles.
- Watch ahead while you are footing. Be careful while stepping on uneven or and water surfaces. Walk on levelled surfaces, and also avoid grassy areas.
- You should hold onto the hand rails while using a staircase. If you cannot hold anything, ask somebody to lend their hand for support.
- Do not carry heavy loads as they keep your attention away from your feet while walking.
- Wet areas like bathroom and kitchen are prone to cause accidents. Water and soap can together make the surface slippery. You may use anti-skid tape or non-skid mats in your bathroom to avoid the risks of falls.
Falls may not always be dangerous during pregnancy, but when were they good to you? Therefore, always mind your steps and do not walk in haste. If you have got any more tips on safety, share in the below comment section.
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