Getting in your car and driving to wherever you need to has become second nature for many of us. Although it occurs to us to have others drive in certain situations (when we’re tired or have been drinking, for example), the majority of the time if we feel healthy we don’t see a need to call a cab or give our keys to someone else—we just get in and go.
Unfortunately, this state of mind isn’t necessarily ideal in all situations, especially when you’re in your second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Fetal Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
The National Highway and Safety Administration estimates that mother and fetal injuries due to car accidents have been significantly increasing over the past few years, as shown in a University of Michigan study. The research estimates that between 1,500 and 5,000 fetal deaths, tens of thousands of permanent injuries, and numerous in utero complications can be contributed to serious car accidents. Even in situations where the expectant mother doesn’t immediately present injuries, the likelihood of pre-term labor is still remarkably high.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2013, car collisions are an extreme concern for fetal safety as the effects can be catastrophic for pregnant drivers. This study showed that vehicle accidents tend to have an extreme impact on expectant mothers, causing substantial adverse outcomes, such as:
- Premature birth: internal injuries could cause the uterus to fail or involuntarily induce labor in order to “protect” the baby. Unfortunately, if the baby isn’t fully developed, this could cause serious complications.
- Hypoxic brain damage: a collision can cause so much force on the mother’s body that the placenta could become detached, the uterus can be damaged, there could be internal bleeding, or the mother herself could suffer hypoxia, all of which could potentially cut off oxygen to the baby and cause brain and lung damage.
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures: debris, broken glass, and sharp objects can be hurled or forced into the mother’s abdomen, cutting and stabbing the fetus.
- Internal bleeding: force effects and impalements can all cause internal bleeding for both mother and child. When too much blood is lost, the mother’s body will try to conserve the remaining blood by cutting the supply to the baby.
- Miscarriage: any abdominal trauma or uterine damage can cause complications which could lead to a miscarriage during any trimester.
Maternal Instincts: How Do You Feel About Pregnancy Car Safety?
Given the potential risks involved, do you think pregnant women shouldn’t drive after a certain term? Should there be safety limits on when and how an expectant mother drives? Should there be special harnesses for seat belts or additional safety features in cars to prevent abdominal injuries? Do you have personal accounts or stories about driving pregnancy risks?
In the comment section provided, let us know your opinions, concerns, and personal experiences with driving well pregnant. Your words can have a significant impact on someone’s life, as well as the life of her baby—so go ahead and share.
Make sure your family and expectant friends are protected by sharing this page with them via Facebook or Twitter. You can also tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. The consultation is free, so they have nothing to lose, but a wealth of knowledge, support and confidence to gain.