When you get into the driver’s seat with your enormous baby bump, you can’t help but worry. Even a fender bender could cause some serious trauma to your baby in the womb. Unfortunately, most of us have to continue on with our daily lives when we become pregnant and driving is simply a necessity. Of course, any trauma to your belly could be serious, but there might even be risks you haven’t thought of when you hop in the car during pregnancy.

Even if your baby is unscathed, you are more likely to become injured in the event of a car accident if you’re pregnant. There are high levels of relaxin in your system during pregnancy, which makes your bones and joints more susceptible to sprains and breaks. If you were to get hit in your car and slightly jostled, you could suffer a sprain more easily because of the relaxin in your system.

To keep you and your baby safe while driving, always wear a seat belt. You should do this any time you drive whether or not you’re pregnant, but it becomes even more vital when you are carrying a baby inside your womb. Not only will it keep your belly from hitting the steering wheel with impact, but it will also keep your body from being tossed around too much.

You should also be a passenger as much as possible. If you were to get into an accident as a passenger, you’d have more space in front of you before hitting anything with your belly. As a driver, the steering wheel is only inches away, so even getting lightly rear-ended could cause pressure on your growing baby. If you have to be the driver, put your seat back as far as you can without compromising your visibility. That way you’re giving your baby more space should anything happen.

If you do find yourself even in a minor fender bender, call your healthcare provider immediately. They’ll probably have you come in for a quick check-up to make sure the impact didn’t affect your baby’s heart rate. You don’t have to completely give up driving during your pregnancy, but try doing it as infrequently as possible, and make sure you practice safe driving by wearing a seat belt. You can’t control other drivers, but you can make sure you’re protected against their stupid mistakes with proper safety.

Source: Catherine Vladutiu: Motor Vehicle Safety During Pregnancy. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine October 13 2011

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