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Driving During Pregnancy

Driving during pregnancy

A recent study conducted in Japan on the effect of driving a car in pregnancy on the baby’s heart rate and mother’s uterus found no adverse influences on either the baby or mother. Some women worry that the increased uterine activity they may feel while driving during pregnancy could cause preterm labour. The researchers found, however, that women actually had fewer contractions when sitting in a car than they did when walking. While you would expect driving could increase the mother’s blood pressure and heart rate, it in fact lowered it. The greatest risk from driving for both the mother and baby is car traffic accidents. It is very important that pregnant women always wear a seat belt. Car accidents cause trauma in around 2-3% of pregnancies. Both mother’s and babies’ outcomes seem to be better when seat belts are worn. It appears that some pregnant women do not wear seat belts when sitting in the back of the car and others do not put their seat belts on properly. Correct seat belt placement should begin early in pregnancy.

  • The shoulder belt should go over the shoulder, collar bone and down across the chest, between the breasts
  • The lap belt should be worn as low as possible under the abdomen and therefore under the baby
  • Pregnant women should always wear a full seat belt no matter whether they are sitting in the front or back of the car
Dr Hannah Dahlen is the Associate Professor of Midwifery at the University of Western Sydney. She has been a midwife for more than 20 years. Hannah is also an executive member of the Australian College of Midwives, NSW Branch. She has researched women's birth experiences at home and in hospital and published extensively in this area. Hannah's website is www.hannahdahlen.com.au

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