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Safety matters — Buckling up during pregancy

Associate Editor –
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, May 12, 2017

FOR soon-to-be moms, the discomfort of driving themselves around may lend itself to not wanting to buckle up. However, safety should never take a back seat when it comes to you and your precious cargo.

Tanya Clarke, 29, said it was extremely challenging for her to buckle up during pregnancy.

“It was hard to wear my seatbelt during pregnancy as my belly got bigger; it got in the way of the steering and the seatbelt added to the discomfort... It was a very uncomfortable period,” said Clarke.

Clarke, the mother of an 11-year-old daughter, said she had to make a lot of adjustments.

“I had to push back my seat away from the steering, then my feet were unable to touch the gas pedal... I had to give up driving totally in the latter stages of pregnancy,” she continued.

Dr Garth McDonald, resident in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in downtown Kingston, said the safety of moms-to-be and their unborn children is of paramount importance.

“It is recommended that pregnant women wear seatbelts. Most of the trauma and life lost occurs when the woman is thrown from the vehicle,” he told Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine.

“In case of an accident, you may have seatbelt injury like an abrasion across the abdomen. However, the benefits outweigh the risk. That trauma is usually minor as the greatest trauma can occur when the woman is flung from the vehicle,” he continued.

The obstetrician explained that motor vehicle accidents were responsible for 60 to 75 per cent of all blunt trauma cases during pregnancy and is the most common cause of foetal death related to trauma.

“No matter how minor the trauma may be, she should seek medical attention,” said Dr McDonald.

Seatbelts should go under the belly, going across the middle of the chest and over the shoulder — avoiding the neck.

Dr McDonald also advised that on long journeys, moms-to-be should take frequent stops and walk around for a few minutes.

“For long journeys, there is increased risk off blood clots in the legs... Blood clots in the leg can result in pulmonary embolism, which means the clot can move from the foot to the lungs. We recommend that they walk around. They shouldn't try holding their urine for extended periods either,” he said.

Renae McCalla, 31, said for her long trips during pregnancy, she incorporated some level of planning.

“If it was a trip like from Kingston to Montego Bay, I would make sure I emptied my bladder before leaving the house. Also, I knew where the rest stops were along the route. As a pregnant woman, people would gladly allow you to use their bathrooms,” said the mother of two.

Some midwives recommend that expectant moms minimise driving around the last trimester, which is from seven to nine months, while others say the second is the riskiest period. Whatever it may be, precautionary measures must always be taken.


Tips for expectant mothers

• Ensure a safe distance between your tummy and the steering wheel;

• Make sure front airbags are 10 to 12 inches from your tummy;

• A pillow can provide added support for your back; and,

• Compression stocks can be worn to prevent swelling if you're going to be in traffic for more than an hour.