Which are the most high-risk months to be driving when pregnant?
As a general rule, being pregnant does not mean you cannot drive, apart from in certain specific cases. It is worth remembering that pregnancy is not a disease or an obstacle to carrying out the vast majority of your activities, and that as long as you take due care, driving when pregnant can be extremely safe for both mother and child. Having said that, there are certain stages of the pregnancy where the risk factor is slightly higher, but this should always be determined by a specialist.
If there are no medical reasons to indicate otherwise, there is no problem with driving while pregnant. The woman herself will be aware of how she feels at any given time and of her limitations, and if she does not feel up to it, or is tired and uncomfortable, or just doesn’t want to, then of course she can choose not to drive.
If we are considering the risks, there are two periods of higher risk for pregnant women when driving: during the first trimester and in the final weeks of pregnancy. The fact that there is a higher risk does not mean that women should not drive. We would like to reiterate that pregnancy is not an impediment to living a normal life, provided there are no extenuating medical circumstances. This higher risk occurs for very straightforward reasons: in the first three months of pregnancy there is a greater risk of placental detachment or uterine rupture in a collision, given that there is very little amniotic fluid.
In the last stages of pregnancy, daily life becomes increasingly complicated as the baby grows and the mother begins to feel tired. She will have more limited movements than in earlier stages and the baby’s weight is considerable.
Driving while pregnant is safe
Everyone should wear a correctly fastened seat belt, but in the case of pregnant woman it is vital to do so, given that this safety system will protect both the mother and the baby. If the seat belt is not fastened, she can be ejected from the seat in a crash and both the mother and the fetus may die.
The correct way to fasten the seat belt when pregnant is similar to the normal way of doing it, except that the pelvic band (the horizonal belt) should not go over the stomach, but rather over the hips. There are adaptors available to support the pelvic band in such a way that it won’t slip from the optimum position.
These kinds of adaptors cannot be approved given that there is no specific law for testing and approving them, so if you decide to use them you should make sure that they do not change the position of the seat belt anchorings, nor create unnecessary loose areas in the belt apart from the necessary repositioning around the pelvis.
With regard to airbags, there is no room for doubt: there are no studies that decisively show that an activated airbag can injure the fetus. Using both the airbag and the seat belt is absolutely crucial for the safety of the mother and the fetus, bearing in mind that the correct distance between the pregnant woman and the steering wheel should be approximately 25 cm.
It is a good idea to check with your doctor if you have any doubts whatsoever, and above all if the you experience contractions, notice any changes, or are at risk of premature childbirth.