An increasing number of women are becoming independent and resort to their own conveyance! It’s not unusual to spot women buzzing on their mopeds or checking their makeup behind the wheels. This is an absolute bliss till you begin your journey towards motherhood. The uterine cavity, where the embryo implants and grows into a baby is very delicate and cannot tolerate pressure. Depending on the stage of pregnancy and risks, some women are completely advised against travelling. It’s a rare sight to watch women with very pregnant bellies either driving or travelling. Unless advised by the doctor, it’s safe to drive and travel during pregnancy, however following safety tips should be observed.
Why Is It Important To Be Careful While Travelling Now That I Am Pregnant?
“Now that I am pregnant..”, isn’t this enough to drive anyone to a ‘safe-radar’ drive? Not only your growing belly, but the hormones that are at play during pregnancy increase your risk of having a road accident. This risk is more pronounced during the second trimester. Fatigue, insomnia, nausea and stress that accompany a given pregnancy contribute to erroneous driving and increase the possibility of having a road crash. So should you not drive? Of course you should, but you should drive a bit more carefully, follow driving rules and follow standard, safe driving instructions. You do not want to visit the hospital because of an accident, and because conducting X-rays etc. are not recommended during pregnancy, it is best to stay careful and attentive on the roads while driving.
Car Driving Safety Tips During Pregnancy
If your daily ride to work is a car, then you need to be a little calm and careful on the roads now that you are expecting. The below tips should come in handy to drive safely by a car:
- Select a smooth route: Sudden jerks from break and speed breakers or potholes are serious concerns for a pregnant woman. Stay away from a rough road with loose grits and patches of potholes.
- Adjust seat: Too high or low seating can cause discomfort. Hopping down or dragging up from a low seat is unpleasant.
- If you are driving ensure that the baby bump doesn’t crash with the steering wheel, there should be enough space. All the controls should be within comfortable reach.
- Aim the steering wheel towards the chest rather than towards the abdomen.
- Wear seatbelt: Follow the basics, pregnant or no pregnant – seatbelt is for your and baby’s protection! Buy seatbelts which are specially designed for expecting mothers.
- Whiff the aroma: Nausea, headache and suffocation are common during car journey. Choose a car perfume which calms you.
- Buy & wear sunshades: Whether driving or travelling, heat increases discomfort. Sunshades will protect you from direct sun.
- Airbags are safe: Do not shy away from cars with air bags – they will protect you!
- Be prepared for the unexpected: How about a flat tyre?
- Be Phone ready: Keep your phone charged and carry charger.
- Stay hydrated: Keep a bottle of water, in sleeves, during summer. Pack some juice or buttermilk in summers.
- Munch on the go: Pack a few healthy munchies, for an unexpected hunger pan.
- Dress comfortably: Be it a romantic drive with your hubby or an all girls trip; wear loose and cool clothes! Unlike before, there are exclusive stores for expecting mothers which offer stylish and comfortable clothes.
- Follow the traffic rules: Follow them religiously even if you are the only car till stretches. This includes lane changing, indicator lights, speed limits and phone use while driving – consider using Bluetooth or hands-free.
- Car pooling: As your belly expands, it’s best to have someone to help you. Try some one else drive you to work.
Car Driving For Long Distances During Pregnancy
In case you need to travel a long distance during your pregnancy, you must ensure that you:
- Carry the comfort: Keep your hot water bottle, pillow or aircraft cushion in your car.
- Wear the seatbelt snugly and correctly:
- the shoulder portion should be positioned over the collarbone.
- lap portion below the abdomen and across the upper thighs.
- strap should run across the chest not over or above the belly.
- Keep reports handy: Always keep a copy of your pregnancy reports/check up in your car.
- Take frequent breaks: Fatigue, nausea and blackouts are common and this could be dangerous, especially while driving on motorways. Breaks are welcome since sitting for prolonged period is tedious for expecting mothers.
- Meets the need of frequent urination too.
- Keep hand sanitizer and toilet roll handy.
- Stay hydrated: Apart from water, carry glucose drink/Limca whatever you prefer for instant energy and wellness. Snacks and drinks will help keep your blood sugar level optimum.
- Stretch yourself: Swollen feet are not only the sign of pregnancy but can be painful and suggest insufficient blood circulation. Stretching your legs and rotating limbs (wrists, ankles) will ease discomfort.
- Car care: Ensure that your car has been serviced and works perfectly fine before you buzz off on a driving spree. Check for any loose breaks or non-functional head/tail lights. Get the air of your tyres checked frequently. A spare pair of keys is a good idea as well.
- Fill the fuel tank: Check the fuel level and do the needful; sometimes it’s difficult to find a petrol station
- Be alert: Stop the car and pull along the hard shoulder if you suspect any foul or burning odour. Do not drive if you feel strained or burned out.
- Invest in a SatNav: Get a navigation device and learn how to operate it. The Map my India by Google is one such reliable device available in market.
- Be tech ready: Ensure that your car is equipped with the first aid kit, car stepney and provided tools – no you are not changing tyres but the mechanic on rural roads may!
- Avoid night driving: Visibility could be a concern if you opt to drive at night. Also, chances of encountering drunk drivers is more. You will also be fatigues by the night.
- Rain and Driving: Drive carefully during rains, especially if there are traces of any spilling on road.
Two Wheeler Riding During Pregnancy
Coming to the two wheelers, you need to be extra cautious! Most doctors advice against taking the ride on two wheelers, reasons being the high risk of falling, loosing balance and the lack of airbags to protect you. Unlike car, you are more open to the roughness of road and bumps strike harder. If you have to ride to work during pregnancy, you need to take quite a few precautions as listed below:
- Wear a helmet and summer coat/windcheater – any extra layer is protection!
- Wear neon-high visibility jackets while travelling during night.
- Wear comfortable footwear and not strappy sandals which may be a hazard.
- Avoid exploring new routes – keep the ride short and sweet i.e. less busy and bumpy.
- Avoid travelling during peak hours.
- If you feel dizzy or unwell, do not drive at all.
- Avoid riding the two wheeler on a rainy day- the rain makes the roads slippery and chaotic.
- Seek help if your scooter doesn’t have a self start option – jerks are not good!
- Know if there are any health care centres in the route you follow – just in case.
- Keep the vehicle documents along with water in the storage.
- Carry the charger and mobile. Nowadays vehicles come with these facilities!
Avoid travelling by two wheeler during the first few and last months of pregnancy, particularly if you are above 30 yrs or previously had complications in pregnancy miscarriage). The pressure on uterus may lead to premature delivery and complications. Also it will become difficult to balance the weight, especially during turns.
Driving During The First Trimester. Unless you suffer from extreme nausea and dizziness, you are good to ride or drive as the case may be. Risks are low, but you need to take all the necessary precautions. Take a check from your gynaecologist though.
Driving During The Second Trimester. As your belly grows, you may find it difficult to ride and drive on your own. The summer heat and the winter colds are not suitable for a pregnant woman. If you can, ask a co-worker or your husband to drop you off to work.
Driving During The Third Trimester. You should avoid driving and riding during the third trimester. Avail the work-from-home option a few days every week. The rest of the days, ask your husband to drop you and pick you from work. Two wheeler riding during the last few months of the pregnancy should be completely avoided. If your office is close by, take a walk- but not alone. Regardless of car or moped, it’s best to get in touch with your obstetrician to identify what’s best for you and your baby!