Many people who fly on airplanes fear a plane crash, despite the chances being low. Similarly, expectant mothers often worry about risks that are unlikely to occur.

Expectant mothers are vulnerable and hormonally predisposed to protecting their growing baby, keeping an eye out for dangers no matter how slim the odds. As it turns out, even simply driving and riding in a car can pose a greater risk to pregnant women. 

Expectant mothers should be aware of the risks and the likelihood of serious injury, particularly regarding car accidents.

What Should Expecting Mothers Do After a Car Accident?

After being involved in a car accident, expecting mothers should wait at the scene of the accident for trained first responders to arrive and conduct a medical evaluation. Some signs of potential fetal injury include:

  • Vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid
  • Contractions or abdominal pain
  • Any change in the baby’s movement

Even if you do not feel you have been injured, expecting mothers should always seek immediate medical attention after a car crash. 

Expecting mothers who do not suffer immediate medical distress after a car accident are still more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Why Does the Risk of Injury From a Car Crash Increase in Pregnancy?

Studies have shown that pregnant women are more likely to be involved in a car accident that sends them to the emergency room than they were before pregnancy. However, the studies were not set up to evaluate or determine exactly why pregnant women might be more likely to be involved in serious car accidents. 

There are some theories, though, about the reasons. Most have to do with the way pregnancy affects an expecting mother’s body and bodily function. 

Pregnancy increases the concentration of the hormone relaxin in the expectant mother’s bloodstream. The increase in relaxin is thought to make expectant mothers predisposed to certain muscle injuries.

Expecting mothers frequently experience symptoms that might make it more difficult for them to focus on their surroundings while driving. These symptoms include general tiredness, usually as a result of difficulty sleeping, and intermittent nausea. Intermittent nausea, although commonly called “morning sickness,” can plague expecting mothers at any time of day.

Whatever the reason, researchers believe that doctors should make sure their pregnant patients are aware of the risks related to pregnancy and car accidents.

What Are the Risks of Car Accidents During Pregnancy?

Among all causes of fetal death relating to maternal trauma, studies have shown car crashes are the leading cause of fetal death.  Expectant mothers are more vulnerable to all types of injuries, like back injuries or knee injuries after a slip-and-fall accident, perhaps because of the higher levels of the hormone relaxin. 

Research has shown that expectant mothers driving while in a car crash are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes. Some risks to pregnant mothers from car accidents include:

  • Separation of the placenta from the uterus
  • Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM)
  • Preterm birth 
  • Stillbirth

Unsurprisingly, the risks increase even more when an expectant mother is not wearing a seatbelt. 

Not all birth injuries are caused by car crashes, of course. Unfortunately, expecting and delivering mothers are also vulnerable to medical malpractice. Errors during delivery can lead to spinal cord injuries

Is Pregnancy a Pre-Existing Condition?

In some cases, the insurance company for the at-fault driver may try not to pay after an accident involving an expecting mother. Pre-existing conditions usually limit the liability of the insurance company. The insurance company is only responsible to the extent that the car accident made the condition worsen. 

Following a car accident during pregnancy, normal pregnancies become “high-risk” pregnancies. An expecting mother may be entitled to damages for losses related to a high-risk pregnancy, such as lost wages because of bed rest. Expecting mothers may also have claims for emotional distress and pain and suffering. Contact a personal injury attorney to help you determine if you are entitled to financial compensation.