Is It Safe To Drive While You’re Pregnant?

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Drive Pregnant

Driving during your pregnancy may pose some risks but it’s not always practical to stop for nine months and most mothers-to-be drive safely well into their third trimester. Knowing the risks associated with driving during each trimester can help minimize them.

Here are some of the challenges expectant moms might face:

First trimester

The first trimester of a pregnancy is often marked by nausea and overwhelming fatigue.

It’s uncomfortable when nausea or morning sickness happens at home, but those symptoms can present a real problem when behind the wheel. Expectant moms may want to skip driving while most vulnerable to bouts of nausea.

As to fatigue, be sure you are well rested before you get behind the wheel. For some moms, a particular time of the day becomes naptime during the first trimester. It’s smart to avoid driving during those hours.

Second trimester

Most expectant mothers feel better during the second trimester, but ironically that is when they are most likely to have a traffic accident. A 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that physical and mental changes make women more easily distracted during this trimester. Then, the incidence of traffic accidents drops in the third trimester.

If you do drive during the second trimester, exercise extra caution, obey all the safety laws, and don’t let yourself drive when you are too tired.

Third trimester

Many women stop driving in the third trimester when an expanding waistline makes it difficult to safely reach the steering wheel. As your abdomen grows, you can move the driver’s seat further away from the steering wheel, so there is space for the driver-side airbag to deploy in case of a traffic accident. However, you can only move the seat back so far and still comfortably command the wheel.

Again, fatigue remains a factor during the last trimester. Be sure to get enough rest so that you are alert when you drive.

Avoid long car trips. Pregnancy weight gain can cause back problems that make it difficult to stay seated for a long time. If you do have to make a longer road trip, try to share the driving and stop frequently for bathroom breaks, mini meals and a quick walk.

There are some rules that women should follow during every trimester of their pregnancy:

  1. Always wear a seatbelt. Always wear both the lap belt and the shoulder strap. They should fit snugly. Buckle the belt under your belly and over your hips.
  2. If you do get into an accident, even if it seems like a fender bender, check in with your doctor. Read here what you should do if you are in an accident during pregnancy.

Deciding when to stop is both a personal and a practical decision. Knowing the facts can help you make the right decision. Be sure to discuss driving and any other concerns with your healthcare provider.

Joan MacDonald
Joan Vos MacDonald has written about health and fitness for newspapers, magazines and websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and the author of two books on health-related topics, "Tobacco and Nicotine Dangers," for young adults, and "High Fit Home," a design book about fitness and architecture. She lives in upstate New York near her children and grandchildren.

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