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For many of us, driving is an integral part of life, and it doesn’t stop when we get pregnant. It’s hard to know when to stop driving during pregnancy, or if we actually need to stop at all. Safety is, of course, of the utmost priority, both the baby’s and yours. This is what makes considering when you should stop driving so important. Make sure to consult your doctor and do your own research to find out how to best protect yourself and your baby. As pregnant women, we have more than just our own safety to consider.
Hazards you need to consider
To begin with, driving even when you’re not pregnant, can be risky. On average every year on U.S. roads, around 3 million people are injured in car accidents. Driving while pregnant can add a potential safety hazard.
Our bodies are way more temperamental than they were before. Car rides can cause nausea and headaches, as well as other body aches we never used to get. Motion sickness is practically a guarantee, especially during that first trimester. While we all have driven with physical issues, these can be a frequent if not constant distraction. It’s just harder to focus when you feel about ready to throw up on your lap.
Because pregnancy can take a toll on the body, ensuring we are well-rested and properly hydrated can help us have a smoother overall experience while we are focusing on safe driving. it goes without saying that we also should make a maximum effort to eliminate potential driving distractions, like cell phones, so you can pay attention to the road and get to your destination safely. If this isn’t your first child, and you may also have other children in the car with you. Make sure they are properly secured in their car seats. Keeping our minds focused and body healthy is key to avoiding accidents, especially while pregnant.
Of course, accidents are always a possibility every day that you take to the road. To help avoid accidents, there are extra precautions to take:
- leave earlier for the destination
- drive slower
- take the scenic route
- wear your seatbelt properly
- make sure you can turn and properly see out of your blind spots
- keep your tires adequately filled
If all these seem like things your mom might suggest, welcome to the heightened awareness of driving risks while caring for precious cargo. Being a little more aware and a little more careful doesn’t have to spoil your drive. Think of it as just tiny steps you’re taking to protect your baby.
When to stop driving
While there is no official guideline on when we should stop getting behind the wheel of a car, many medical professionals agree that if we cannot sit and drive comfortably, we should stop driving until after giving birth.
Some women choose to drive throughout the entirety of their pregnancy (even during labor, which I do not recommend!), while others prefer to be driven. If you are worried about driving or not feeling well, consider asking a family member or loved one to chauffeur you for the day. Thankfully there are more ride-sharing and public transportation options than ever before, but as with all things having to do with your pregnancy, you are the one that has to make the right choice for you and your future child or children. The baby’s safety needs should always be the highest priority.
Key lesson: how to wear a seatbelt over your bump
One of the most important lessons we pregnant women have to learn is how to wear the seatbelt properly. Of course, there comes a time when it’s not going to be comfortable no matter what we do, but even during the first few weeks of your pregnancy, there is a certain way you should have your seatbelt on. Make sure that the belt isn’t sitting over your belly, but tucked lower. As your belly grows, you’re always going to want the seatbelt to be placed below your belly, so that if an accident does occur, you minimize the risk for your baby.
There is a lot to consider when we choose whether to drive while pregnant. Sometimes we don’t have much of a choice, we need to get to work or to our doctor appointments on time. Gauge how you are feeling that day, how far you have to drive, and if you can take breaks when necessary before getting behind the wheel. Use common sense based on how you’re feeling and whether you feel you can really drive safely.