3 common pregnancy accidents and how to handle them

Your unborn baby is safe in his watery world … until something out of the ordinary happens. By Roxanne Fagri

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Expectant mothers know all too well about all the precautions they should take to protect their unborn children. However, accidents can and do occur. The consequences of any accident will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy, and of course, how much impact the child undergoes when something does happen.

Here are some of the common accidents that could occur and the steps you should take if  they happen to you:

Heavy lifting

It’s never a good idea for pregnant women to do any sort of heavy lifting. This is because your ligaments loosen up and your joints become less stable during pregnancy. As your belly grows bigger, gravity naturally shifts forward, putting a lot more strain on your back. Feto-maternal specialist, Dr Ismail Bhorat, cautions moms who are at risk of obstetric problems, specifically those who are susceptible for preterm labour or miscarriage.

Women who have a low-lying placenta run the risk of placental bleeding, while those with a short cervix should also take special care. Dr Bhorat feels that “In these instances, we caution moms against lifting heavy objects and performing intense exercise as this may lead to an unstable placenta that could initiate a bleed or precipitate preterm labour.”

ALSO SEE: 3 placenta problems explained

If you’re going to do any heavy lifting, it’s important to take special precautions. Bend from your knees while keeping your back straight; this way, your body will be forced to use your leg muscles instead of your back muscles. Carry the load close to your body, but if you feel that you’re straining at all, the object is probably too heavy.

Falling

Falls tend to occur during pregnancy because your centre of gravity has shifted. Most often, it’s the moms who sustain the injuries, rather than their babies, because of the protective amniotic fluid. Dr Bhorat agrees that because foetuses lie in amniotic fluid, they’re cushioned and generally protected from impact trauma.
If, however, after you fall, you experience spotting, swelling, contractions or if you can’t feel your baby moving, consult your doctor immediately.
It’s important to inform your doctor of what’s happened, even if you had a minor fall, as he’ll be able to determine the severity of the consequences. The best way to avoid falling is to do things slowly and carefully; don’t rush when you’re pregnant. Be careful when you walk down stairs, and hold on to any form of support that’s provided, even if it’s someone’s arm. Try to avoid taking part in any activities that could lead to a fall, especially in late stages of pregnancy.

ALSO SEE: Pregnancy bumps and bruises

Car accidents

Most women are diligent about wearing seatbelts when driving, but protecting pregnant women in an accident is a challenge. One of the biggest problems in a car accident is the steering wheel; as your tummy grows larger, the closer it sits to the wheel and so the impact on your stomach in the event of an accident becomes greater.
Dr Bhorat explains that the further along you are in your pregnancy, the greater the risk for the premature rupture of membranes, preterm labour or an abruption of the placenta (separating placenta).
To ensure safer driving, wear your seatbelt correctly. Make sure that the strap crosses over your shoulder and that the bottom part is strapped over your hips, under your belly. Move the car seat as far back as possible, while ensuring it’s still possible for you to drive safely.

ALSO SEE: Traveling while pregnant

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