In modern society the mother-to-be simply can’t stay at home and wait around for nine months. It is important for our pregnant road users to know that unless they suffer from a special condition, they can live normal lives without too many changes. As long as it is comfortable they can get in a car right up until the end of pregnancy.
It would however be wise for pregnant women to avoid driving in conditions that might increase stress, such as driving in bad weather conditions, rain, wind or icy weather. Driving at night can also be stressful as your sight can be diminished and in many cases your body is growing tired.
We would like to address some of the concerns of pregnant road users and suggest safety advice for safe driving so the mothers-to-be can maintain the mobility that they have become used to.
More Info Pregnancy and medical advice
What does research about pregnant driving tell us?
- Research shows that unbelted pregnant women are more than three times likely to lose their baby in a crash, and two times as likely to have excessive maternal bleeding.
- Even in a minor accident, where injuries are not as severe, you still have a five percent chance of losing your baby if unrestrained.
- A 2008 study from the University of Michigan estimates that proper seatbelt use by pregnant women would save 200 foetuses each year.
- There are medical complications that can occur to the mother as well as the baby.
- A study in San Diego found that 68% of women involved in a crash while not wearing a seat belt noted abdominal pain. Some mothers are also more likely to experience complications from blood clots, fractures, and internal injuries if involved in a crash while unrestrained. Researchers have also found that a mother's uterus and bladder are not as protected by the pelvis after 12 weeks gestation and can be more easily injured by blunt trauma.
General advice and suggestions to pregnant drivers
- Make sure your seat is positioned comfortable and not too close to the steering wheel (in case of an accident and the air bag deploys).
- Leave some space (at least 10 cm) between your belly and steering wheel, bend back slightly. [Whilst still able to observe]
- If possible -use a vehicle with adjustable steering wheels and seats so that you can customize your seating position to optimize your control over the car.
- Check your view out of your mirrors if you push your seat back or change the height of the steering wheel.
- Make sure that after you adjust your seat you can still comfortably reach the accelerator, brake, and clutch – if you are stretching to reach the pedals, it could affect your reaction time.
- Remove coats or jackets that restrict your ability to move freely behind the wheel and learn to rely on the heating system of the vehicle to keep you warm.
- If you suffer from pains in back, massage seat nets, wattle of wooden balls or tarpaulin ones with air gap will be of great help for you.
- During a long trip stop and have some rest - leave the car, walk for a while, stretch yourself, do everything to relax and relieve tension.
- Feet and ankles are prone to swelling in pregnancy and can be worsened by sitting still for too long.
- Whilst you’re a passenger in the car you can gently move your feet around, rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes.
- Take small snacks and water with you on journeys as your body now demands better sustenance throughout the day.
- Always bring a lumbar support (it can be a small pillow or rolled up sweater or small blanket). Position the lumbar support against the lower curve of your back, and reposition until your find the spot that feels best.
- If your back is sore, think about bringing along a heat or cold pack that you can use to help reduce discomfort.
- If you’re suffering from morning sickness, you may feel nauseous in the car. Try sucking on crystallized ginger, as it’s a great natural remedy for nausea.
- Avoid travelling alone, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
- Ensure you’re enrolled with a breakdown service in case of emergencies.
- Always carry a mobile phone with you – Also take your passport, medical insurance and medical record with you. Put a paper with your close people`s contacts in your documents.
- If you're driving in winter conditions pack warm clothing, some snacks, water and blankets in case of car trouble.
- Avoid places where good medical care is not available or where changes in climate, food or altitude could cause you problems.
Always remember that your safety comes first – avoid unnecessary time and threats on our roads. Whenever possible, let someone else do the driving as the more space you place between your unborn child and a steering wheel, the better.
Thank you to arrive Alive for supplying us with this valuable information, please have a look at www.arrivealive.co.za for more information.