- Hint and tips for driving during pregnancy
- Safety tips from Thatcham Research Drive Zone Centre
- Driving after the birth
From the moment you saw a positive on your pregnancy test, you've been in "Momma Bear" mode; you'll do anything to protect your precious cargo. Car safety will doubtless become a top consideration for mums who drive.
So, we've come up with some top tips for making yourself comfortable behind the wheel, as well as some safety guidelines to bear in mind with your bump or babba in tow.
Is it safe to drive whilst pregnant?
It is absolutely fine to drive whilst you are pregnant, as long as you have a healthy pregnancy. As you get nearer to your due date, your growing bump may make it more difficult to get in and out of the car. It may even start to get in the way of the steering wheel. As a result, you may prefer to stop driving towards the very end of your pregnancy, but this is personal choice.
Should you wear a seat belt now that you're pregnant?
You should always wear your seatbelt when driving whilst pregnant, unless you have been given an exemption certificate from your GP. If you're stopped by the police and you're not wearing your seatbelt, you will be asked to produce your exemption certificate.
When putting on your seatbelt, make sure the top part goes over your collarbone and between your breasts, whilst the lower strap lies across your thighs and hips and under your bump. You should avoid 'lap only belts' as they have been shown to cause serious injuries to unborn children in the event the car suddenly brakes. The experts at Thatcham Research Drive Zone Centre, state that 'wearing a seat belt reduces the injury risk to the unborn baby by up to 70%'.
It’s also really important to adjust your seating position as your bump grows. The experts at Thatchams recommend pregnant women 'sit with as great a distance as possible between their abdomen and the steering wheel to reduce the risk of injury in a crash'.
Staying comfortable and safe in the car
It's worth noting that the tiredness and nausea you may be feeling in the first trimester can make it hard to concentrate. Be sure to take regular breaks and only drive when you're feeling alert and well-rested. In the later stages of your pregnancy, you may find a little elbow constantly poking your ribs or elsewhere if you don't move around regularly. Again, try to take a break at least every 90 minutes for a rest and a much-needed toilet break.
Once you're out on the road, eat regularly and carry snacks and water to keep your blood sugar level up. Sudden dips can cause light-headedness, dizziness, fainting, confusion or disorientation.
Simple stretches, both in and out of the car, will keep your blood circulating. Sitting for long periods of time can be difficult when you're pregnant. It can make your feet and ankles swell, your legs cramp, and give you heartburn. The good news is that with a little movement, you can alleviate the discomfort.
If you are doing longer journeys in the later stages of your pregnancy it might be sensible to travel with a companion. You can share the driving, and if your little bundle of joy decides to arrive sooner than expected, you know that help will be on hand. It is always sensible in the last few months to carry your pregnancy and birth personal information with you in case you can't make it back to your designated hospital.
Is it safe to travel in a car with air bags whilst pregnant?
Rumours have been flying around that airbags can harm your baby. No research confirms this myth. An airbag will protect you and your baby if an accident happens. Airbags are designed to work with seat belts and you should be safe as long as you're wearing a seat belt properly.
Driving after giving birth and knowing you're covered
Childbirth is a serious physical process for a woman and it takes time for the body to heal fully. It’s important for any new mum to get as much rest as possible to allow the body to repair; so, driving may not be a priority for a couple of weeks. But if you are keen to get behind the wheel again, just check with your doctor that it's safe for you drive. If so, there’s no change to your car insurance cover and you won’t need to let your insurer know.
The confusing world of baby car seat answered
As you wait for the imminent arrival of your perfect package, the time has come to enter into the confusing world of baby car seats. To make things simpler, check out our digestible article on everything you need to know about the current laws, as well as hints and tips for buying your first baby seat.