Pregnancy is exciting and life-changing, but it also has a unique way of making you feel tired, nauseous and unfocused. And that makes driving while pregnant a bit awkward, uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous.
A 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that pregnant women are 42 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident during their second trimester than they were in the previous three years.
A 2011 article published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reports that 92,500 pregnant women are involved in car accidents each year. In both studies these injuries are self-reported and the injury severity isn’t known.
Although these statistics might be intimidating and sound scary, if you know why certain effects happen then you can take several simple precautions to mitigate the unique driving risks during pregnancy.
Wear Your Seat Belt Correctly
Wearing a safety belt is a life-and-death decision we make every time we step into a car. And for pregnant women, that decision has crucial implications for their unborn child.
A 2008 University of Michigan study shows that 40 percent of pregnant women who die in car crashes were not wearing seat belts, and 62 percent of serious fetal complications from car crashes are because the mother wasn’t wearing a safety belt or was wearing it wrong.
These studies unanimously state that properly wearing a seat belt won’t have any harmful effects on an unborn baby.
So what’s the right way to wear a seat belt while pregnant?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that a pregnant woman should wear her safety belt with the shoulder strap over the collarbone and between the breasts.
The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen and across the upper thighs.
Phone Interview with Dr. Costa Sousou, chairman of the Mayo Clinic Health System OB-GYN department at Franciscan Health Care in La Crosse, Wisconsin. September 2, 2016.
Pregnancy and the Risk of a Traffic Crash. cmaj.ca. Accessed: Wednesday, August 31, 2016.
Motor vehicle safety during pregnancy . ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed: Wednesday, August 31, 2016.
Proper safety belt use among pregnant women could prevent fetal deaths. ur.umich.edu. Accessed: Wednesday, August 31, 2016.
If you’re pregnant: seat belt recommendations for drivers and passengers. safecar.gov. Accessed: Thursday, September 1, 2016.
Pregnancy: Dealing with Morning Sickness. webmd.com. Accessed: Thursday, September 1, 2016.
What is Hemodynamics? hemodynamicsociety.org. Accessed: Thursday, September 1, 2016.
The vasovagal response. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed Thursday, September 1, 2016.
Car Safety During Pregnancy. Babycenter.com. Accessed: Thursday, September 1, 2016.
The 16 most popular used cars for families on the go. carmax.com. Accessed: Thursday, September 1, 2016.