The Danger of Driving While Pregnant
Do you even give a thought to driving while pregnant?
I know I definitely do not. With three kids ages six and under all at home with me for the summer (yay!), it's all on me to cart them around to various doctor's appointments, play dates, and those excursions that we all need simply to get out of the house for sanity.
But never in a million years would I have thought I could be endangering myself more by driving, simply because I am pregnant.
A new study out of Canada shows that pregnant drivers are riskier drivers. “Pregnancy causes diverse physiologic and lifestyle changes that may contribute to increased driving and driving error,” the study declares.
The study goes on to say that the highest risk for pregnant women to crash their vehicles and thus place both themselves and their unborn baby at risk occurs during the second trimester. Shockingly enough, even after excluding women under the age of 18, and controlling for factors such as diversity and type of pregnancy, the risk of crashing during the second trimester increased by 42%—a number that seems huge to me. (Maybe even bigger than the size of my own 31-week-along belly …)
Apparently, the risk is lowered during the third trimester, which in my mind, doesn't make a whole lot of sense, since the size of the belly would be considerably larger and thus could impair driving just from the fact that it's hard to maneuver. But then again, maybe a lot of third-trimester women are like me and avoid going anywhere out in public in those last few bloated months.
So what does all of this mean?
Right now, nothing other than the realization that it's more important than ever to drive carefully when you're pregnant. Doctors aren't advising pregnant women to stay home or let someone else take the wheel. (In fact, men are often even riskier drivers, so you may still be better off driving yourself to those prenatal checkups.) Obviously, the little one you are carrying is never far from your mind, and that same protection you apply when taking your prenatal vitamin, exercising, and eating right should carry over into practicing safe and mindful driving, especially during the second trimester.
The researchers in the study didn't find any major factors to be the cause for the crashes that did occur; instead, they were all found to be incredibly small instances—mere lapses in judgment or a small error that resulted in a crash. I guess we can chalk that up to the infamous pregnancy brain, huh?
Just to be safe, be sure to follow up on these safe driving pregnancy tips:
- Minimize distractions—If you have younger children in the car with you, consider talking to them before you hit the road about not bothering Mommy while she is driving (my biggest stressor when driving!).
- Don't speed.
- Always, always wear your seat-belt. It will be more harm than good to your unborn baby if you don't wear your seatbelt, even when it gets to be slightly uncomfortable. Wear the lap belt securely under your belly, not on top of your bump. The shoulder belt should be positioned between your breasts and again, not on top of your bump.
- Keep the air bag on.
- Take your coat off while driving to ensure proper seat-belt placement.
- Aim your steering wheel more towards your head, instead of your stomach, if it all possible.
- Consider a maternity seat-belt for extra coverage and comfort. (Amazon.com, $47).
Have you experienced a car crash while pregnant?