Health & Wellbeing Pregnancy

Should You Stop Driving When Pregnant?

Scuba diving; best to avoid it for now. Horse riding; not unless you’re an expert. Eating a rare or even medium cooked steak; not worth the risk.

By now you’ve probably realized that pregnancy requires you to make a few important lifestyle changes.

But have you ever considered if it’s safe for pregnant women to drive a car when pregnant?

There are no laws stating pregnant women cannot drive when expecting, and in most healthy pregnancies it should be safe provided you listen to your body and follow common sense, for example not driving when you’re tired or unable to physically operate the vehicle as normal.

When To Stop Driving When Pregnant

For many women, the answer is you do not need to stop driving during your pregnancy, and it’s typically safe to drive all the way up to birth.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some precautions and safety measures that you need to take.

For example, here are 5 scenarios when you should think twice about driving:

1. You Are Nauseous

For many or us, pregnancy comes with nausea, morning sickness and vomiting, the severity of which can vary a lot between women.

If you are going through a period of nausea, then it’s best to make other arrangements rather than getting behind the wheel yourself.

2. You Feel Fatigued

While expecting your hormones are changing, which means you’re experiencing a sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone.

With your body in overdrive growing a little human inside you, there will be days when you’re extra tired or exhausted, both during your early pregnancy and later on, when you’re feeling the effects of that extra weight you are carrying around.

Anytime you therefore feel tired or fatigued, the last thing you should do is drive a car, as it could put both you and your baby at risk of an accident.

Woman Looking Tired

3. Your Mobility Is Too Restricted

If that ever-growing bump makes it very hard to reach two things that are essential for driving – the steering wheel and the brake pedal – then clearly it’s best not to think about operating a motor vehicle.

Especially if you add in any tightness around your back and hips, you need to make adjustments just to get in a driving position, or you don’t have enough mobility to turn your head to see any blind spots.

4. You Are Uncomfortable (Especially On Longer Journeys)

In a similar vein, you might want to think twice about making any long distance journeys when pregnant, especially if you cannot stop to take a break whenever you want, as you’re more likely to be uncomfortable on a longer journey compared to a shorter one.

While there are no laws around the length of car journey you can make when driving during pregnancy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and to speak with your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns.

5. You Are In Labor

OK this sounds obvious, but it’s worth adding just in case!

Never drive to the delivery ward or birthing center when you are pregnant.

Those mild contractions can quickly intensify, and when they do the last place you’ll want to be is behind the wheel and on the road.

Do Pregnancy Driving Restrictions Exist?

Did you know that pregnant women are more likely to have a serious car crash in the second semester compared to those who aren’t expecting?

That’s according to one well-known study that was carried out in Canada.

We can only speculate as to the reason for this, but if I had to guess I’d say it would be down to either fatigue or complacency.

Hearing this, you’re probably wondering if there are any pregnancy driving restrictions you should be aware of.

There are no laws that state it’s illegal to drive while pregnant, which means that it’s up to you to decide whether it’s safe or not.

For this reason it’s important to consider the scenarios above, and to follow the tips in the next section, before you turn on the ignition.

Driving Tips During Pregnancy

Here are six other tips to help keep you and your imminent new arrival safe when on the road:

Wear Your Seatbelt Correctly

Make sure you wear your seatbelt unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

According to experts, when pregnant you should:

  1. Wear a three-point seat belt.
  2. Make sure the shoulder belt goes over the shoulder, collarbone and down across the chest, between the breasts.
  3. Ensure the lap belt is worn as low as possible under the abdomen and the baby.
  4. Adjust the seat belt to fit as comfortably as possible, and adjust the seat too if necessary.

Check Your Medication

If you happen to be taking any medication during pregnancy, particularly anything that’re only recently been prescribed, it’s a good idea to check for side effects.

That’s because certain medicines can make you drowsy or impair your driving ability in some other way.

If in doubt, always ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Eliminate Distractions

Turn off you cell phone or any other distractions to help you focus better on the road, your surroundings and on your driving.

Cell Phone

Bring Some Food & Drink

When stuck in unexpected traffic or if your journey is taking longer than usual, the last thing you want is is to be caught out by is thirst or hunger.

So take plenty of water, and pack some easy snacks like trail mix or protein bars, both of which are great options as they don’t require any special storage.

Stay Cool

It’s easy to overheat when pregnant, so it’s best not to drive in hot weather or in the heat of the day unless your vehicle has air conditioning to keep you cool.

Build In Frequent Stops

Toilet breaks, stretching you body, grabbing a snack and a drink of water, giving your mind a break.

These are all things that you’ll probably want to do on longer journeys, so make sure there’s an opportunity to do so whenever needed, and factor this in when planning your route.

Red and White Stop Sign

In Conclusion

So is it safe to drive while pregnant?

There are no laws that state you cannot drive while expecting, and there’s nothing stopping you from driving all the way up to those final few days before giving birth if you want.

For many women who are experiencing a healthy pregnancy, it should be safe to drive in moderation, provided you listen to your body and follow common sense, such as not driving when you’re tired or unable to physically operate your vehicle as normal.

On those days when you’re not up to it, it’s best to not take any unnecessary risks and either let someone else drive or make alternative arrangements.

Most of the other time however you’ll probably find that as long as you feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel, you can continue to drive while pregnant.

Must Read: The Complete Guide To A Happy & Healthy Pregnancy

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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