Falling during pregnancy can be worrying. But the amniotic sac encloses your baby to protect from a certain amount of impact. Therefore, minor falls during pregnancy might have few repercussions. An injury should be severe enough to hurt the mother before it directly harms the baby.
MomJunction explains the reasons for falling during pregnancy and when the situation could be dangerous for your baby.
What Are The Reasons For Falling During Pregnancy?
While falls are avoidable during pregnancy, there are certain factors during pregnancy that 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 of your body is shifting. Therefore, there may be chances of a fall (1), especially on uneven surfaces.
2. Pregnancy hormone relaxin:
Relaxin hormone, which helps relax the joints and ligaments, may also affect your movement, gait, 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 might make your feet unstable, making you vulnerable to fall.
[ Read: Risks Of Blood Pressure During Pregnancy ]
3. Low blood sugar and blood pressure:
These conditions, which are usually common during pregnancy, may also make women feel dizzy and lose balance while walking.
- The swelling of feet might make your steps clumsy and feet a little numb. As a result, you may not feel the steps as clearly as you did before pregnancy and are prone to falling.
- Pregnancy could make you uncomfortable, exhausted, and overwhelmed, all of which may put you at the risk of a fall.
Can A Fall 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:
- The amniotic sac and its fluid, which gives a cushioning effect inside (3)
- Thick and muscular uterus
- Abdominal muscles and fats
- Pelvic bone
All the above structures, together, are likely to minimize the movement of your baby within the womb and could reduce the risks of injury 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 Might A Fall Be Dangerous?
The impact of a fall could differ for both pregnant mom and baby depending on four main factors:
1. Mother’s age:
The chances of complications of the fall are likely to increase with age. For women over 35 years, the risk could 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 are likely to 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 in case you are falling.
The impact of your fall might also depend on the surface – hard or soft. However, there may be women who have fallen on concrete surfaces or slipped from stairs but may have 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 is likely to increase 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 the head down.
Falling During The 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 might 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 The Second Trimester
In the second trimester, the uterus is usually not tucked in the pelvic floor. However, there are other protection covers that 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 The Third Trimester
As you enter into your third trimester, the chances of harm could increase for both you and the baby (5). Also, you are more likely to be vulnerable to falls during this time due to fatigue and clumsiness. If you have a severe fall, the damage might be more to the placenta than to any other part. It is because the abdominal trauma could increase the chance of pulling the placenta from the uterine wall.
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 warning signs that 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
Testing For Injury Due To Fall
- Your doctor may initially check for any injuries and provide treatment. The injury may be a sprained or broken bone or chest injury, which could affect your breathing pattern.
- Then, your doctor monitors your baby by measuring the fetal heart tones with the help of an ultrasound or Doppler. They 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, such as placental abruption or abnormal heart rate.
- Blood testing might be 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 may affect their fetus. Doctors also recommend Rho-GAM shot to prevent any problems related to blood type incompatibility.
Can You Prevent Yourself From Falling And Slipping?
You cannot always prevent falling. However, if proper precautions are taken, you could minimize the risk.
- Lean on something strong for support or sit down if you are feeling dizzy.
- Wear footwear with non-skid soles and proper grip. You may use wedge-heeled or low-heeled shoes so that your body does not pitch forward. Avoid high heels and complete flats as they may cause extra strain on the lower back and calf muscles.
- Watch ahead while you are footing. Be careful while stepping on uneven or and wet surfaces. Walk on leveled surfaces and avoid grassy areas.
- You should hold onto the handrails while using a staircase. If you cannot hold on to 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 such as the bathroom and kitchen are prone to be accident areas. 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.
- When you use the toilets, especially at night, ensure that the area is well-lit. Avoid walking in the darkness.
Falls may not always be dangerous during pregnancy, but when were they good to you or anyone? So, always mind your steps and do not walk in haste. It is better to prevent a fall than think about what to do after one.
Do you have any tips on safety and preventing a fall during pregnancy? Share them with us in the comments section below.
2. Laura T. Goldsmith and Gerson Weiss; Relaxin in Human Pregnancy; Ann N Y Acad Sci (2013)
3. Pregnancy and Childbirth: Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PROM); UC San Diego (2016)
4. Reeta Lampinen et al.; A Review of Pregnancy in Women Over 35 Years of Age; Open Nurs J. (2009)
5. Inanir A et al.; Evaluation of postural equilibrium and fall risk during pregnancy; Gait Posture (2014)