Pregnancy is a time of constant emotional, hormonal, and of course physical changes. It affects literally every aspect of life from work to sleep, to diet, to travel, and everything in between! Not surprisingly, pregnancy can also affect driving comfort and ability.
Driving is something many of us take for granted; we do not often sit down and think much about it because it is part of our everyday lives. However, driving a vehicle on public roadways is a demanding and complex activity. It requires an ability to absorb information quickly from many sources and an ability to make snap decisions. It requires common sense, with an emphasis on safety as the top priority. Driving also requires a certain amount of physical agility, including the ability to move your head and to reach. These things can all be affected by pregnancy.
A pregnant person will experience a variety of symptoms and physical changes over the course of nine months – keep the following points in mind throughout your pregnancy and be prepared to adjust your driving habits depending on how you feel.
- Seatbelt: Ensure that you can wear your shoulder and lap belt properly – seatbelts literally save lives (yours and your little one’s!). If it gets to the point where you cannot wear a seatbelt or are too uncomfortable, that should be a sign to stop driving and start being a passenger.
- Seat Positioning: Adjust your seat position to ensure that your belly is several inches away from the steering wheel to reduce the risk of contact between yourself and the steering wheel or the gear shift, while maintaining the ability to reach the pedals comfortably. Also consider re-positioning the steering wheel so that the airbag is not directed right at your belly.
- “Morning Sickness”: if your nausea or dizziness are unpredictable, it may be best to wait for these symptoms to subside before getting behind the wheel.
- Agility: Ensure you can move around easily enough to see your blind spots or to pick something up off the floor – this will become trickier as your belly grows, but compromising these things can create risk.
- Fatigue: It is very common to have sleep difficulties during pregnancy, or to find regular activities draining. Take note of your energy levels and avoid driving if you are too tired.
- Focus: Ensure that you are rested enough to be able to process all the information coming at you and react quickly. It is also a good idea to avoid distractions such as listening to the radio, or engaging in phone conversations while driving.
- Sustenance: Ensure you have snacks/drinks on hand to replenish your energy levels. Among other things, hunger or thirst can cause difficulty concentrating on driving.
- Road-side Safety: Consider subscribing to a road-side assistance service such as CAA. Alternatively, make sure you have the contact information of someone who can help out if you run into mechanical trouble. Whether you are a pregnant driver or not, having a first aid kit on hand in your vehicle is always a good idea.
- Plan Breaks: Ensure you take rest breaks on longer trips. Stretching and moving around will ensure that blood is flowing in the right way to all the right parts!
- Get Checked Out: Should you be involved in a collision, even if it is a minor accident, it is a good idea to see your midwife or physician to ensure everything is in order with you and your baby.
- Never Drive if You Think You Are in Labour: Plan ahead to ensure you have someone on call ready to take you to the hospital, at any time.
Most women find that they can drive safely and comfortably throughout pregnancy. By monitoring your symptoms and physical abilities, and making simple adjustments to accommodate your changing body, you can ensure that you and your baby will be safe and secure on the road.
At Howie, Sacks & Henry we represent all manner of accident victims, including those who have suffered injury while driving or riding as a passenger. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, please contact Meghan Hull Jacquin at 416-361-7561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.