Driving Safety Tips for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women choose to drive for many different reasons. These include convenience and security to comfort and freedom. This is especially the case for women who already have children. Getting kids to school is difficult enough without the thought of being laden down by shopping while trying to use public transport with kid's in tow.

Is it safe to drive a car while I'm pregnant?

Yes - For most pregnant women there's no reason why you can't carry on driving as normal. On long journeys you may have to stop a bit more often for toilet breaks or to rub your tummy, have a walk or stretch to relieve any backache. Other than, these common problems associated with pregnancy, driving while pregnant is safe. However, as your pregnancy progresses and you grow larger it becomes more difficult for you to enter and exit a car especially with the steering wheel getting in the way. Although there is no fast or loose rule, most women tend to stop driving around 30 weeks preferring their partner do the driving simply because it's easier and more comfortable.

Do I need to wear a seat belt?

YES - Being pregnant does not exempt you from wearing a seat belt while driving or as a passenger either in the front or rear of the car. You should always wear a seat belt. Wearing your seat belt protects you and your unborn baby from injury or death in the event of a car crash. In certain cases you may be exempt from wearing a seat belt on medical grounds, if this is the case your doctor will issue a medical exemption certificate which you would have to produce if stopped by the police while driving.

Is wearing a seat belt during pregnancy dangerous?

No - Many women worry that wearing a seat belt during pregnancy may injure their unborn child. They fear their baby could be injured by their seat belt if an accident occurs or if they had to brake suddenly. But research in the UK has found that it's much safer for both mum and her unborn baby if seat belts are worn.

Recent research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded; "Seat belts clearly protect the foetus, in large part because the foetus protects the mother. It's very clear, based on this study that pregnant women should wear a seat belt every single time they're in a car. Our study strongly suggests that about 200 foetuses' each year would not lose their lives if women had worn their seat belts" author Dr Mark D. Pearlman, M.D. vice-chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Does it matter how I wear my seat belt?

Yes- It is very important for pregnant women to wear a 3-point lap and diagonal seat belt. These belts are designed to stop you from being thrown from the car during an accident. The shoulder strap helps keep your body weight off your tummy and therefore off your unborn baby in the event of an accident.

It is absolutely crucial for your safety and for your baby's safety that you wear your seat belt correctly. The lap belt portion of the seat belt should be placed well under your pregnant tummy, snugly fitting over your pelvis and pubic bone and across your hips as high up on your thighs as possible. It's really important that while driving you constantly check to see the lap belt has not risen up on to your bump.

The shoulder strap should be positioned off to the side of the uterus and between the breasts. Again it's important that while driving you routinely check that the shoulder-belt is not directly lying over your bump as this could increase the risk of injury to your unborn baby during a high-speed collision.  Many cars have belt adjustment mountings that allow you to lower or raise the height of the shoulder strap so it fits snugly between your breasts and off to the side of your bump.

It's advisable to sit as far back from the steering wheel as your legs will allow with the steering wheel tilted (normally downwards) to suit the size of your bump and stature. Roaddriver recommends pregnant women buy a maternity seat belt for added safety.

Are air bags safe?

Because of recent press reports, pregnant women worry unnecessarily about injuries to their unborn baby following deployment of airbags after an accident. Any injuries that have been reported as a result of air bag deployment are most likely because of sitting too near the steering wheel, also side door panel crushing or the incorrect wearing of seat belts or not wearing one at all.  Most experts agree that air bags are safe and can protect pregnant women from head injury. Never turn off the air bags just because you're pregnant. Air bags should not be seen as an alternative to seat belts. If your car is fitted with air bags, to be safe, you should move the seat back and tilt the seat to get some distance between your bump and the steering wheel. As your tummy grows you should adjust your seat further away from the steering wheel.

Women Drivers - Driving Safety Tips for Pregnant Women

Tips and Advice - Article No.9 RoadDriver 2010








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