For most women, travelling by car is a necessity and can’t be avoided, even during pregnancy.
Whether you are making the daily commute to work, going to visit some relatives, or heading for a night out with friends, it’s still possible to make the journey by car without too much disruption to your schedule.
There are just a few things you’ll want to consider beforehand.
To help you out, we’ve come up with five essential points that will make your driving experience freer and safer. Take them on board and you should be able to travel around freely until the latter stages of your pregnancy.
Check your car regularly
Pregnant or not, before you even get behind the wheel, you should take extra time to get your car thoroughly checked and all maintenance carried out on a regular basis. This means that your car will be as safe as possible.
Have your car serviced regularly too because a good garage will spot any expensive and/or safety-related problems in advance which you might otherwise miss.
Before every journey you should ensure that you have enough fuel to complete the journey, while essential items like oil levels, coolant, lights and so on can be checked monthly or before you head off on a long journey.
Of particular note are your car tyres – these are THE most important safety-related item bar none, as they are the only part of your car in touch with the road and capable of stopping your car in time in an emergency.
The Tyre Safe charity has published some useful guidance for expecting mothers as part of their Home Safely campaign, created to highlight the particular importance of checking tyres during pregnancy.
Prepare for long journeys
Uncomfortable and long car journeys are best avoided if at all possible during pregnancy, especially during the latter stages. However, if you do need to take a trip for a few hours, there are a few things you can do to make it safer and a little more bearable.
Plan your journey ahead of time so you can be sure there are places that you can pull over regularly for a toilet stop and a stretch. Sitting still for a long period of time can often be uncomfortable when pregnant, so a chance to have a break can do wonders.
If you suffer from back pain while driving, the addition of a wedge pillow, like this one from Mothercare, can often relieve some of the stress.
Pay special attention to seat belts and airbags
While seat belts and airbags are both vital safety features of your vehicle, they deserve some special attention when pregnant. Airbags are considered safe for pregnant drivers, though you should move your seat back so there is a fair distance between the steering wheel and your bump. You may need to increase this distance as your bump grows towards the later stages.
You should wear a seatbelt at all times when driving, in accordance with the law.
However, during pregnancy a three-point belt that has a diagonal strap and a lap belt should be chosen over a lap belt only. This is because it provides better overall support, and any stress placed on your body will be more dispersed, rather than concentrated on your stomach. This instructional video from Safe Ride 4 Kids shows exactly how you should wear a three-point seatbelt during pregnancy.
Practice safe driving
Though you are most likely a safe driver anyway, when pregnant you need to be even more cautious. Don’t take any risks at all when you are behind the wheel — even if other impatient drivers are tempted to. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and practice extra vigilance when on the road. If you feel tired or ill before the journey, it’s probably best to delay it or not to make it at all, just to be safe.
Should your term fall over the winter months, you should think twice about making longer trips and read up on some winter driving techniques so you are prepared.
This guide to driving in hazardous weather by Lookers is a good place to start as it gives you practical advice for a number of weather conditions.
Know what to do if your car breaks down
There are a few precautions that you can take to be prepared for a vehicle break down. The first, and one of the most important, pieces of advice is to always travel with a fully-charged mobile phone, so that you can make an emergency call or find your location should you need to.
It might also be wise to keep a phone charger handy that fits into the cigarette lighter of your car.
Should you feel that something is wrong with your car, pull over safely at the earliest opportunity and point the front wheels away from traffic with your hazard lights on.
You should try and call a breakdown service as soon as possible, as well as a loved one to let them know what has happened. When someone is on their way, it is simply a case of waiting for some assistance.
Keep these essential five pointers in mind and you will be able to safely enjoy the same level of mobility that you have been used to before and throughout your pregnancy.