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Driving while pregnant

A lot of pregnant women wonder if it's safe to drive, and it's important to sort the myths from the reality. So, we've done the groundwork for you…

Can you still drive when pregnant?

Yes, you can! If you want to drive and feel ok, go for it.

Of course, pregnancy affects different women in different ways. If you're being sick every five minutes, it's probably best not to drive until that stage passes, which, as the Baby Centre explains, is usually after the first trimester. Likewise, if you're feeling really tired or dizzy, maybe wait till you feel a bit perkier.

Generally though, unless a doctor's told you otherwise, you can drive whenever you want to!

When should pregnant women stop driving?

There's no cut-off date for when you should give up driving when pregnant. But it might get a bit uncomfortable when driving while pregnant in the third trimester. As your bump gets bigger, it might become hard to get in and out of the car, reach the steering wheel or pull certain manoeuvres, so it may be time to give up driving until the baby is born.

Is it safe to drive long distances while pregnant?

It's absolutely fine to drive long distances while pregnant, just take regular breaks and move around a bit to avoid getting swollen ankles and leg cramps. If it's later on in the pregnancy, you'll probably need to stop regularly for loo breaks anyway!

How can I drive comfortably while pregnant?

If you do need to drive long distances while pregnant, these tips will make you a bit more comfortable:

  • See if someone is willing to split the drive with you (as long as they're insured to drive your car, of course!).
  • Stop about once an hour to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
  • Achy or swollen feet and ankles? There are stretches that can help – flex your foot, rotate your ankle and wiggle your toes! The NHS also says pregnant women travelling for more than four hours should wear compression socks – not the best look, but they'll help with circulation in your leg.
  • Pack a bag with a couple of bottles of water and some healthy snacks to keep your energy levels up during the drive.
  • Keep some pregnancy-safe motion sickness tablets in your glovebox, just in case you feel a bit queasy.

Wearing a seatbelt while pregnant

No matter how big your bump gets, the law says you still need to wear a seatbelt when you're pregnant, unless your doctor has given you a Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing. You'll need to keep the certificate in your car at all times so you can show it to the police if you're stopped.

The NCT has some useful tips on wearing a seatbelt when pregnant:

  • Always wear a three-point seatbelt.
  • Place the shoulder belt over your shoulder, collarbone and down across your chest, between your breasts.
  • Keep the lap belt as low as possible under your bump.
  • Adjust the seatbelt so it fits as comfortably as possible, and the seat too if necessary.

Should you turn the airbag off when pregnant?

No, an airbag will protect both you and the baby if there's an accident, as long as you're wearing your seatbelt properly (see above tips). As your bump grows, move your seat back a bit or tilt it so there's more distance between your bump and the steering wheel.

Do I need to tell my insurer I'm pregnant?

No, you don't need to tell your insurer you're pregnant, although if you have a c-section, doctors usually suggest you don't drive for about six weeks.

Where should a pregnant woman sit in a car?

If you're a passenger, sitting in one of the back seats is safer than the front passenger seat, whether you're pregnant or not. Road Safety GB also says children under 12 years should always sit in the back, and if you have a rear-facing baby seat you have to deactivate the airbag if you put it in the front passenger seat.

What should you do if you're involved in an accident?

Even if it's a minor accident, get yourself checked over by a doctor just in case. A sudden jolt could cause some issues if you're pregnant and if you're in pain, start to bleed or have contractions after the accident, see a doctor straight away.

All information is correct at the time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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