Pregnant women are constantly under the microscope regarding safety, including being told what they should and should not do when they are expecting a child. According to a study done out of Canada, women in their second trimester are at the greatest risk of getting into a car accident. As reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, women in their second trimester have the same probability of being involved in an accident as an individual with sleep apnea.
In the study, pregnant women in their first trimester had about the same crash rate as they had before they became pregnant. Once women were in the middle three month of gestation, there was a 42 percent rise in crash risk. ER visits during this period rose from 4.3 to 7.7 visits per 1,000 women in the study. While the exact reasons for this rise were not explored in the study, doctors believe it has to do with hormonal changes that women experience at this point during pregnancy. Doctors involved in the study believe that insomnia, nausea, stress, and fatigue may increase during the second trimester, increasing the risk for car accidents.
Below is a list of safety tips that expectant mothers should keep in mind when they get behind the wheel:
The shoulder belt should cover the shoulder, collar bone, and go between the breasts for optimal protection. Most cars have adjustment mounts that can be moved so that the shoulder strap lays properly depending on your height.
Lap belt should be under the baby, going as low as possible under the belly. Should an accident occur, having the lap belt under the abdomen lessens the injury potential to the baby. Frequently check while driving that the lap belt has not risen up to the belly.
Air bag should remain operational.
Leave as much clearance between the steering wheel and the abdomen as possible.
Try to drive less in hazardous conditions, such as snow and rain.
If possible, ride as a passenger to avoid possible contact with the steering wheel.
In case of roadside emergencies, pack a safety kit in the backseat that includes blankets and water. Always carry a cell phone if an emergency situation occurs.
Never text and drive.
Common Pregnancy Complications Caused by Car Accidents
While it is not a scenario that you want to think about, being involved in a car accident while pregnant is a possibility anytime you get behind the wheel. Always take the necessary precautions listed above to reduce serious injuries to yourself and your baby. However, be aware that serious injuries or complications can occur.
1. Premature labor or birth – Because of the physical trauma that can result from a car accident, as well as emotional stress, premature labor can take place. There are a number of complications that can occur with premature birth, such as:
d. Underdeveloped lungs
e. Respiratory issues
h. Heart issues
2. Miscarriage – While it is rare, miscarriage can occur from some car accidents. While amniotic fluid is there to protect the baby, miscarriage can occur if the baby strikes the steering wheel. If the mother is severely injured in the accident, the baby may be lost.
3. Placental Abruption – If a serious trauma occurs to the mother, such as a car crash, the placenta could separate from the uterine wall which is attached during a healthy pregnancy. The signs of placental abruption, include: pain, vaginal bleeding, and labor-like symptoms. If you suspect that placental abruption occurred, seek medical attention immediately.
Always take the necessary precautions when driving, especially if you are pregnant. If you are involved in a car accident and injury occurs, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your claim. You may have the right to appropriate compensation for injuries to yourself and your child.