Are you pregnant? Are you asking yourself, “when should I stop driving while pregnant or can I drive the whole pregnancy?”
You can drive during your whole pregnancy as long as you feel comfortable and can safely maneuver the car.
Some women find they are exceptionally tired and driving while sleepy is similar to driving while drunk so they may stop driving while pregnant.
Some women are uncomfortable in a car because of the seat belt feeling tight across their low belly or because of backaches due to the angles of the seat.
For many women, driving during pregnancy is a necessity.
Is it safe to drive while pregnant?
Yes, and there’s increased risk.
For most women it’s safe to continue to drive. And, there are inherently additional risks when you are pregnant. Mom and baby face more potential injuries than a non-pregnant woman would face because of the nature of being pregnant. One common injury, for instance, is placental abruption.
Should I wear a seat belt?
Yes! Wearing a seat belt is 3 times safer than not. “Protecting the mother is the first step in protecting the fetus,” says associate research scientist at the University of Michigan Kathleen Klinich. There is a higher chance of losing the baby if the mom is fatally injured.
But can wearing a seat belt during pregnancy be dangerous?
Truth? Yes. Absolutely wear the seat belt during pregnancy as stated above. And yes, the seat belt can cause injury.
Most doctors and articles will tell women who are worried about seat belts being dangerous that it is safer for mom and baby if the seat belt is used. This is true. It is safer. What those doctors and articles don’t usually tell you is the seat belt does pose risk of injury in and of itself.
However, that risk of injury is much less than of not wearing a seat belt!
What does that mean?
The seat belt is designed to contact the hip bones and hold mom down in the seat. After the 12th week of pregnancy the baby grows up and outward of the pelvic area and the uterus is more susceptible to injury. (Friese, Wojciehoski, Randal; 2005)
An estimated average of 3,000 pregnancies are lost every year in car crashes. And studies are only able to extrapolate from the number of reports after 20 weeks gestation as prior to 20 weeks, reports about a baby’s demise are not required.
Even when you are wearing your seat belt as recommended while driving pregnant, the pelvis has a natural tendency to submarine under the lap belt during a crash and the belt then moves up across the pregnant belly.
There is only one crash-tested way, safe way to prevent this submarining effect during a crash, the Tummy Shield pregnancy seat belt positioner, which also keeps the seat belt from penetrating into the abdomen and pregnancy.
Remember it is safer for both mom and baby if mom wears a seat belt so it is critical to know how to wear the seat belt correctly when pregnant, use a Tummy Shield to eliminate the risk of submarining, and adjust the airbag toward your upper chest.