Is it safe to drive and ride in a car while pregnant?

Taking great care in all aspects of life during pregnancy is important, but especially when it comes to traveling. In 2014, the Canadian Medical A Pregnant Woman Wearing a Seat Belt While Driving a CarAssociation Journal (CMAJ) found in a limited study that driving during the second trimester increases the risk of a car accident by 42%. However, even for pregnant passengers, car accidents can result in devastation. Pregnant women who’ve been in car accidents require careful immediate examination and ongoing observation to watch for any symptoms of complications, such as miscarriage or premature birth. It’s important to understand how car accidents can affect both fetus and mother, as well as what to do if you or a loved one suffered accident injuries while pregnant.

Car Accidents Create Significant Health Risks

Rear-end, head-on, T-bone, and sideswipe collisions, bad weather, faulty turn accidents, and more—can all involve minor to violent jostling motions that pose serious risks for the pregnancy. Even if the baby bump does not experience any direct trauma, car accidents can still cause injury to both mother and baby. The following are the most common ways car accidents negatively affect pregnancy.

Risks to the Mother

A baby’s health in the womb depends heavily on the health of the mother. A fetus receives a constant flow of oxygen and blood from his mother, so any trauma to the mother can disturb the fetus, as well. Just as with any victim of a car accident, an expecting mother could suffer:

  • Broken bones
  • Head trauma or brain injury
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe bruising
  • Lacerations
  • Loss of blood
  • Loss of oxygen
  • Need for C-Section
  • Emotional trauma

Risks to the Fetus

After being involved in a car accident, it’s critical that an expecting mother seeks immediate medical attention from an emergency medical technician (EMT), an emergency room physician, or an OBGYN, depending on the severity of the injuries. A car accident could result in the following consequences for the baby:

  • Premature birth. Since a typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, any baby born 37 weeks or before is considered premature. Premature babies born near the seventh month mark may be able to stay warm and develop safely, but parents of babies born near the sixth month mark may face difficult healthcare decisions and lifelong sicknesses.
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth. When a baby perishes inside the womb before week 20, a miscarriage occurs. Any baby lost after week 20 is a stillbirth. In both cases, the baby dies and is usually expelled from the mother.
  • Birth defects. During a car accident, a baby in the womb may experience trauma resulting in brain or bodily injury. In the long run, the baby may even suffer disability—such as mental, learning, or developmental abnormalities.
  • Placental abruption. Common in car accidents, placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the mother’s womb and can be life-threatening for both the fetus and mother.

In addition, car accidents threaten a mother and her unborn child due to seat belts. Since safety belts are designed with non-pregnant bodies in mind—to lie across the chest and low lap—it’s important to consider safer methods of wearing a seat belt while riding in or driving a vehicle in order to protect you and your child.

Your First Priorities After a Car Accident

Unfortunately, sustaining an injury or injuries in a car accident can turn a normal, healthy pregnancy into a high-risk pregnancy. After an accident, seek immediate medical attention, follow all doctor instructions, and follow up by attending all doctor appointments. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your family doctor or OBGYN immediately:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
  • Any pain, in general, or in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Umbilical cord
  • Dizziness or headache
  • Unusual vomiting
  • Fever or chills

Get Trustworthy Help for Yourself and Your Baby

Car accidents can be devastating—and if you or your baby sustained injuries resulting in damages, you need the help of an attorney. At Kennedy Hodges, LLP, we offer experience and skill, but we also promise to handle your case with care and commitment. To ask questions, or to get started on your case, call 855-947-0707 today.


David Hodges
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David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.