Pregnant woman driving a car
Articles

Driving when pregnant

5 minutes

Driving when pregnant: What you need to know

  • While you can continue driving when you’re pregnant, there are a few things to remember that can help makes things easier
  • There are several rules on seatbelts to remember before you travel
  • Taking steps like building regular breaks into long journeys and having essentials in the car with you can help keep you comfortable and safe

When you're pregnant, it shouldn’t mean you can’t stay on the road. Whether you need to drive to get to work, or just for everyday travelling from A to B, you don’t have to hand over your car keys just because you’re expecting.

True, getting behind the wheel can become a bit uncomfortable, particularly during the latter stages of your pregnancy. However, the good news is that with a few adjustments and a bit of extra planning you can make things a little easier.

Our guide will take you through all the guidelines on driving when pregnant, any potential hazards to watch out for and tips to make journeys more comfortable.

When should I stop driving when pregnant?

In short, you don’t need to. Unless you’ve been explicitly told by your GP or midwife that you shouldn’t drive for medical reasons unique to your pregnancy, it’s perfectly safe for you to both drive and travel as a passenger.

There are many myths about driving when pregnant, which can make it difficult to know what to do, but if you’re worried speak to your GP or midwife for further guidance. 

What are the rules on driving when pregnant?

The laws on driving when pregnant are no different to the ones that apply to all drivers in the UK. But when you’re pregnant, there are some it’s worth paying closer attention to.

First and foremost, you must wear a standard three-point seatbelt, found in all cars . When you fasten yourself in, take care to ensure the shoulder strap goes over your shoulder and collarbone, down between your breasts and across your chest.

Take care to make sure the lap strap is worn as low as it will fit, ensuring it lies under your abdomen and growing bump. You can adjust your seatbelt so it fits more comfortably when you’re driving and it might be worth moving your seat slightly as well.

If you have medical complications that make wearing a seatbelt while pregnant difficult, speak to your doctor and they may give you a Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing.

Should you have one of these, you will need to inform your insurer straight away and keep the certificate in your vehicle at all times. Of course, it’s always better and safer to wear a seatbelt. If you can’t then you may decide it’s best to stop driving until after your pregnancy.

The safest way to get your baby into the car is always from the pavement side of the vehicle.

What health risks are there?

Whenever you’re driving, there are some associated health risks. These can increase when you’re pregnant, so it’s worth knowing what to look out for.

 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

If you’re travelling on journeys that are likely to take longer than four hours, you may be at risk of developing DVT. This is where blood clots can form in your legs while sitting stationary for long periods

Pregnant women are five to 10 times more likely to develop DVT than non-pregnant women, so it’s important to be aware of the risk. 

Thankfully, there are a couple of simple ways to help avoid it. Wearing compression socks when you’re driving long distances can promote blood flow in your legs, which helps to reduce the chances of developing clots.

Mini-exercises can also help. If you’re having a spell where someone else is taking over the driving, or you’re taking a short break at a service station, move around and stretch your legs as best you can.

Try rotating your feet and ankles and wiggling your toes. This increases blood flow and keeps discomfort at bay.

 

Fatigue and dizziness 

As you’ll know, it’s common to feel fatigued and lethargic during pregnancy, with occasional dizzy spells too. If you’re feeling particularly tired or are experiencing dizzy spells more frequently, it’s sensible to ask someone else to drive. 

If you start to feel like this behind the wheel, simply pull over at the safest place possible. It can become difficult to concentrate on the road if you start feeling like this, so be smart and safe.

You can help combat fatigue by regularly taking in healthy fluids and foods, including water, fruit and nuts. That way, you’re ensuring your body has natural energy, which can help you feel a little more alert while driving.

 

This article contains links to other sites, and we're not responsible for the contents of any of these websites.