by Juan Robin II
Every year, approximately 92,500 pregnant women are injured in automobile accidents in the United States. These statistics list only injuries to the mother. They do not include any injuries to the unborn child.
Many expectant mothers worry about being in a car accident while pregnant. Even a minor car accident while pregnant is cause for concern.
What should a pregnant woman do if she is in an accident? What types of injuries can she and her baby incur? This article answers these questions. It also provides some tips for preventing some injuries.
Types of Injuries
A pregnant driver experiences the same injuries as anyone else behind the wheel during an accident. Severe injuries to the baby result from maternal shock, placental abruption, and death of the mother.
If the mother goes into shock as a result of the accident, the fetal mortality rate is a frightening 80%. The mother’s body goes into hypovolemia from severe fluid or blood loss.
As a result, the heart can’t pump enough blood through the body. So, the body considers the fetus as nonessential. It blocks blood from the uterus to support the other systems.
Placenta abruption is the most common injury specific to pregnant women involved in automobile accidents. It is a life-threatening injury that occurs in 30% to 50% of trauma injuries. Here, the baby is at high risk, more so than the mother.
As a result of the trauma, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall prematurely. This cuts the blood flow to the placenta. The attachment is delicate, so even being rear-ended while pregnant can result in this critical condition.
Both the mother and child are at risk due to internal bleeding. Other symptoms of an abruption are dizziness and intense abdominal pain.
It almost goes without saying that if the mother’s injuries are fatal, the baby will not survive either. If the mother is fatally injured upon impact, there is little anyone can do.
While these are discouraging facts, they also highlight the importance of protecting the mother after an injury. Let it also be a reminder for pregnant women to always wear their seatbelts, as they remain the most proactive way to promote driving safety.
A uterine rupture is a spontaneous tearing of the uterus. It is very rare and happens to less than 1% of pregnant women who experience trauma. In those rare cases, the chance of fetal dealt is almost 100%.
Uterine rupture often results from direct loading from the seatbelt, or in cases where the woman is not wearing a belt at all. Other times, the impact is from the steering wheel or the car’s instrument panel.
Can a car accident cause a miscarriage? Up to 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages due to no external circumstances such as accidents.
However, a car accident can result in a miscarriage even if none of the other injuries listed here occurred. Sometimes, the miscarriage occurs days or weeks after the crash.
Doctors aren’t always able to determine whether the accident is the cause. As frightening as all this sounds, thousands of pregnant women experience car crashes and go on to deliver healthy babies.
If you are pregnant and in a car accident, try not to fear the worst. Next, are some things to do if you find yourself in that situation.
If You’re in a Car Accident While Pregnant
If you are in a car accident while pregnant, whether it’s a serious collision or a simple fender-bender, be sure to see your OBGYN. If you go to the Emergency Room, you will be treated immediately.
You’ll most likely have an ultrasound to check on the baby and your placenta. If you are having any symptoms like contractions or bleeding, you will be monitored for several hours to be sure the symptoms abate.
If you test Rh-negative, you may receive a shot of Rh immunoglobulin, just in case your blood mixes with the baby’s.
Even if you are cleared to go home, contact your OBGYN and make an appointment as soon as possible. Watch for any vaginal bleeding or fluid leaks.
Of course, if you feel any contractions, pain, or notice a decrease in the baby’s movement, contact your OBGYN immediately.
How to Prevent Injuries
Sometimes, accidents are unavoidable. Though there are some proactive measures you can take to be safer in the car during your pregnancy.
How Do You Feel?
Before you get behind the wheel, note how you feel. Pregnant women are more likely to have accidents when they feel tired, nauseous. If you’re feeling worse than usual, see if you can delay your errand.
Sometimes even a short nap or a snack go a long way towards feeling better. Let someone else drive if possible.
Driving distracted is dangerous for anyone. Pregnant women especially should put aside mobile devices and lower the volume on the radio. Concentrate on the road and be cautious during inclement weather.
Another trick is to remove extra clothing layers. Jackets and sweaters interfere with the seat belt placement. Plus, it can also make you uncomfortably warm.
Take Driving Breaks
If you have a long drive ahead, plan to take breaks. Allow yourself to stretch and take short walks, even if the walk is to the restroom and back. In addition to improving circulation, you will feel more alert.
Position to the Steering Wheel
As you get further along in your pregnancy, your baby bump gets closer to the steering wheel. Whenever practical, be the passenger rather than the driver. When you do have to drive, sit as far back from the steering wheel as you can.
The ideal position is with your breastbone at least 10 inches from the wheel. Tilt the steering wheel up toward your breastbone rather than down toward your abdomen. That way, if the airbag deploys, it won’t go straight to your abdomen.
Be sure to wear a full lap-shoulder belt rather than only a lap belt. If you are the passenger, a center rear seat with a full shoulder belt is the safest seat in the car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that the correct way for pregnant women to wear seatbelts is with the lap portion under the abdomen and across the thighs.
It should be as low as possible on their hips. Never place it above or over the belly.
The Tummy Shield is a maternity seatbelt adjuster. This brand has been crash-tested. It’s proven to keep the seat belt away from the abdomen during a car accident.
Often, it’s the seat belt that causes injury to the womb and the baby inside. You may be wary of the seatbelt causing harm. Though, it’s still the best way to protect you and your unborn baby during pregnancy and car accidents.
We hope this article served to ease your mind as well as give you some positive suggestions for driving during your pregnancy. Even though our business is web site design and hosting (click to learn more), we want to stress the importance of this topic.
While expectant mothers worry about getting in a car accident while pregnant, there are ways to keep the baby’s safety in mind when in the car.
You can’t always avoid accidents. But, wearing your seatbelt correctly is still the best way to protect yourself and your baby.