Getting into a wreck while pregnant is a worst-case scenario for many expectant mothers. You not only have to worry about your own health but also the health and well-being of your unborn child.
Even if you are involved in a small fender-bender during your first trimester and don’t feel hurt, it is vital you see your doctor as soon as possible to check on both your baby’s and your own health. Injury symptoms after a car accident can sometimes take up to several days to appear.
Any wreck — from one involving minor damage to one with extensive damage — means that you should immediately go to the emergency room and contact your obstetrician. The sudden impact of the crash could cause placental abruption (the placenta tears away from the wall of the uterus), which may affect the baby’s oxygen and blood supply.
If you have questions about your wreck and insurance claim, call our personal injury attorneys at (770) 934-8000 for a free case evaluation.
Possible Pregnancy Complications After a Collision
Listed are some of the more serious outcomes that can result after a crash. Fetal death is most likely to be caused by maternal shock, placental abruption, and maternal death.
Hypovolemia is a condition in which the mother has lost so much blood or fluid there is not enough for the heart to pump. To save itself, the mother’s body will redirect all blood flow from the uterus, extremities, and other non-essential organs to maintain vital core functions. The fetal mortality rate is about 80%.
This is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine wall, cutting off the flow of blood from mother to fetus. It does not require much force for this to happen. This can be fatal for the baby and is the most common and life-threatening injury for pregnant women. The maternal death rate is low but the fetal death rate is high.
If the mother is fatally injured, especially on impact, it is nearly impossible for the baby to survive.
An extremely rare occurrence that involves the spontaneous tearing of the uterus. A uterine injury can be caused by improper seatbelt placement or an unbelted woman directly impacting the steering wheel or dashboard. The fetal death rate is near 100%.
Car Accident Symptoms to Look Out for When Pregnant
Fetal trauma may be indicated by the following symptoms:
- A change in the baby’s movement
- Chills or fever
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe headache
- Stomach bruising
- Swelling of the mother’s face or fingers
- Urgent or painful urination
- Vaginal bleeding
Sometimes fetal trauma is not always obvious and the mother may not experience any symptoms other than soreness or bruising. Sudden stops and low-speed fender-benders have been known to cause brain damage to unborn babies but the injuries went undiscovered until birth or resulted in a miscarriage a few weeks later.
Direct injuries to a baby occur in less than 10% of crashes with pregnant occupants. Head trauma is the most common fetal injury since the head is the largest part of its body. Even if a baby can be saved via an early emergency delivery, it may suffer from long-term or life-long consequences as a result of the crash and its premature birth.
Ways for Pregnant Drivers to Protect Themselves
During pregnancy, many mothers are doing everything they can to take care of their unborn child, such as eating right and exercising. Unless they are on bed rest, they still need to drive around to run errands and go to work.
Unfortunately, car crashes are the leading cause of death for pregnant women and the leading cause of traumatic fetal injury mortality in the U.S. This doesn’t mean if you’re pregnant you shouldn’t drive; it just means being extra careful.
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to wear a seatbelt. Yes, they may be uncomfortable, but there is an even greater risk of injury or death to you and your child if you don’t wear one. Place the lap section of the safety belt under the abdomen and over the hips — never above or over the belly. Keep the shoulder strap across your chest. Never place it behind your back.
When possible, ride as a passenger. The further along a pregnancy is, the closer the stomach gets to the steering wheel. If you have to drive, try to adjust your seat back as far as you can.
I’m Pregnant and Was in a Car Accident, What Do I Do?
Seek medical attention immediately, no matter how minor the incident. A car accident can put you at risk for pre-term labor or a miscarriage. There may also be injuries to the baby even if you feel fine.
Gather what evidence you can while you are at the scene. Get the driver’s information, license plate number, and insurance company information. Don’t be afraid to take pictures of the wreck or the information they provide you.
If you are taken by ambulance to the emergency room, try to remember the time, location, and details of the accident. Make sure your visit and injuries are documented, along with the names of doctors and technicians who examined and treated you.
After you and the baby are taken care of, call our Atlanta car accident lawyers to review your claim. We are here to serve those who are seriously injured in wrecks through no fault of their own. You have enough to worry about with your pregnancy and hospital visits — let us take care of the legal hassles and medical bills while you heal.
At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, you are more than just a case file. We care about you and your family and work hard to make sure you are fully compensated for your pain and suffering. Car accidents are traumatic events — no one should have to go it alone against the insurance giants.