Things you should never do when driving while pregnant
In the guide “Infant and child safety in cars: child car seats”, by Fundación MAPFRE and the Spanish Federation of Midwives Associations (FAME), you will find information and advice for the pregnancy and, most importantly, after the child is born. It contains recommendations on the safest way to travel with a newborn baby, how to travel with children aged 1 to 4, and what to do once the child is older and can move on to using a seat belt.
10 things you should “not” do when driving while pregnant
- Driving without using a seat belt, or failing to properly fit the seat belt.Using this important safety system is the best way to protect the mother and the baby. The lower strap of the belt should go below the abdomen and right above the hip bones. Meanwhile, the upper strap should go across the middle of the sternum and clavicle, without lying too close to the neck. It is important that the upper strap does not lie directly across your baby bump or over one of your breasts, and that it does not go underneath your arm or armpit.
- Ignoring the instructions of your doctor or midwife.In general, it is safe to drive most of the pregnancy. However, you have been told to stop driving by your specialist or midwife, especially for medical reasons, you must abide by that recommendation. A woman’s body goes through many stages and changes during pregnancy, and some of them can influence your ability to continue driving. Whatever the case, we recommend that you stop driving during the very last weeks of your pregnancy.
- Continuing to drive even when your “baby bump” is too close to the steering wheel.We recommend that you stop driving as soon as the steering wheel is too close to the belly, and therefore to the baby (approximately 20 cm).
- Something else you should never do when driving while pregnant is failing to rest enough or carrying out inappropriate tasks that entail a lot of effort.You should increase the number of stops you make to stretch your legs and it goes without saying that you should avoid doing anything that entails undue effort, such as changing a wheel or lifting suitcases in or out of the car.
- Not adapting the seat and the steering wheel to your new circumstances.Nuestra situación ha cambiado y, por ello, también debemos modificar la altura y posición del asiento. You should increase the distance between the seat and the steering wheel/windscreen as far as possible (there is no need to deactivate the airbag) and make sure that the headrest is in the right position to protect your head and neck. Please remember to adjust the side mirrors if you have moved the seat. You should also adjust the height and position of the steering wheel. Make sure it is tilted towards your chest; never towards your head or abdomen. You should also try to ensure that the seat is in a vertical position.
- Travelling without something to eat or drink in the car.It is important that pregnant women have everything they may need to hand. You should always have water in the car to make sure you are properly hydrated and biscuits or fruit juice in case you feel sick.
- Your doctor or midwife may recommend that you do not use the seat belt for health reasons.In this case, you should not ignore their instructions. For this reason, you should consider the option of not travelling by car at all or, if you really have to, limiting your journeys as much as possible.
- Another common mistake is using cushions or pillows on the car seat or clips to make the seat belt looser. Wherever possible you should avoid doing anything that might loosen the seat belt or affect its operation in any other way.
- Another mistake is not going to your doctor if you are involved in a minor collision.You may think that it is nothing to worry about, but it is important to visit your doctor or specialist so they can check that everything is in order.
- Something that you cannot overlook is how to travel with the baby once you’ve given birth, i.e., leaving the hospital and from then onwards. Please remember that newborn babies must be placed in an appropriate child restraint system from the very first time they travel a car.