Driving While Pregnant: Expert Doula Tips

driving while pregnant tips

If you’re like most women, you wonder if it’s safe to drive while pregnant. Be sure to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about this topic. In general, it’s fine to drive while sporting a bump as long as you are comfortable and can safely maneuver the car. Before every trip ask yourself how you’re feeling and answer honestly. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re feeling anxious, nauseous, tired or unfocused. You don’t want to put yourself, your baby or others at risk. Either postpone your trip, take public transportation, hail a ride, or ask someone to drive you.

7 Steps to remember when driving while pregnant:

Before Buckling Up

Eliminate distractions and remove extra layers of clothing. Bulky sweaters, coats and jackets can interfere with proper placement of the seat belt. Plus it could make you uncomfortable and distracted if you get too warm.

Adjust the Steering Wheel and Seat

 If your car has an adjustable steering wheel, tilt it up so that it’s not pointed directly at your belly. Adjust your seat so that it is at least 10 inches away from your breastbone. If you don’t have enough space between you and the wheel while driving, you can actually cause more injury to your ribs and belly in an accident. If you’re in the passenger seat, move your seat as far back as possible. 

Check out the the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA)  seat belt recommendations for pregnant drivers and passengers

Always Buckle Up

Keep yourself and your unborn baby protected. You should be using a 3 point harness seat belt. That means it should have a lap strap and a shoulder strap. The lap portion of the belt should be placed as low as possible across your hips and pelvic bone – never above or over your belly. The shoulder straps should be between your breasts and off to one side of your belly. Both lap and shoulder belts should fit snugly, but not uncomfortably tight. Never place the strap under your arm or behind your back. If you’re driving an older car, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts. Crash testing has shown that placing the lap belt as low as possible under a pregnant belly causes the least amount of uterine compression during a car accident. Placing it over your hips means the strong pelvic bones will absorb the forces instead. 

Seat Belt Adjusters

These products aren’t recommended by NHTSA. Do some thorough research if you’re considering purchasing one. As of this writing, the Tummy Shield is the only adjuster that’s been crash tested. You can find out more information about the Tummy Shield by reading this report.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the NHTSA advise pregnant women not to deactivate their airbags while driving – so leave the airbags turned on.  A properly worn seat belt and an airbag can help protect you and your unborn child. Without them, you could crash into the vehicle’s interior, other passengers, or even be thrown from the car.

The combination of seat belts and airbags offer the best level of protection to pregnant women, just as it does for other adults, and the benefits definitely appear to outweigh the risks. Moms to be should follow the same basic air bag safety precautions as other adults.

Long Trips

Allow extra time to arrive at your destination because you’ll be taking a lot of breaks to use the bathroom and stretch your legs. It’s very important to stay hydrated and nourished. Bring lots of water and healthy snacks.

If you’re in an accident

Even a low-speed impact can cause injury. No matter how minor the accident or how far along you are, seek immediate medical attention.

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