Pregnancy accidents – dealing with bumps and bruises

Knocks and falls are almost expected in pregnancy, but why it happens and what to do in an emergency is important.


No matter how careful you are are, pregnancy accidents do happen, and it is very scary when they do occur.

ALSO SEE: 3 common pregnancy accidents and how to deal with them

It’s easy – and frustrating – to keep dropping your keys and falling over your feet while you’re pregnant, but the reasons why you do are quite simple: 

  • “Even though a mom’s spine is designed to counterbalance the growing weight of a foetus, pregnancy changes her normal centre of gravity. This makes her slightly less stable on her feet and more prone to falling over,” says Johannesburg-based gynaecologist and obstetrician, Dr Peter Koll.
  • But it’s not just the weight of a growing baby that makes it harder for pregnant moms to stay upright. The hormone, relaxin, also contributes to a feeling of instability owing to the effect it has on your ligaments.
  • “Loose ligaments, joints and muscles are essential when giving birth to something as large as a human baby, but it’s not just the pelvis that’s affected. Your whole body becomes slightly unhinged, which explains why pregnant moms tend to drop things more often,” adds Dr Koll.
  • Nature assists your wobbles by placing your baby behind strong abdominal and uterine muscles, a layer of fat and inside a sac of amniotic fluid that works as a shock absorber. The combined effect of these safeguards is a stable, secure nest that can withstand surprising impact.

How concerned should I be if I fall?

“Falls are not necessarily as dangerous as they appear owing to the protection offered by mom’s body,” says Dr Koll. “In fact, the greatest risk, usually, is not to the baby but to the attachment of the placenta on the uterine wall. A strong impact could detach this organ, interrupting oxygen flow to the baby. If this happens, the mom will display symptoms of distress, such as vaginal bleeding or loss of foetal movement.”

ALSO SEE: Bleeding during pregnancy

But it’s always a good idea to call your caregiver after any fall – if only to be reassured that your body is stronger than you realised.

Tips for avoiding bumps and falls

  • Make your movements more deliberate and at a slower pace.
  • Avoid climbing ladders or wearing high heels.
  • Be extra careful in wet weather and on wet floors.
  • Although exercise is essential, get some advice on what works best for you.
  • Anti-slip mats in baths, shower, under rugs and carpets are vital.
  • Be aware of trip hazards, such as loose wires, broken steps or rugs curling at the edges.

Dealing with emergencies

Call your caregiver or healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid of any kind
  • Contractions
  • No foetal movement
  • Reduced foetal movement
  • Fainting, dizziness or short breath.

ALSO SEE: When should my baby start kicking during pregnancy

Pregnant moms and driving

Most pregnant moms find that driving is unavoidable – even almost until birth. While driving generally is considered safe, it’s important for moms to be aware of the high risk to their babies in the in the event of an accident.

Johannesburg midwife and birthing educator, Elizabeth Beavon, gives crucial advice:

  • “Always wear a seatbelt, but make sure you wear it correctly. Push the belt down under your bump so that your pelvic bone, rather than your abdomen, will absorb impact. Try to move as far away from the steering wheel as you safely can and make sure your airbag is functioning.”
  • In the event of an accident, Beavon advises going to the nearest maternity hospital immediately in order to be sure that no placental uterine detachment, or any other trauma, has occurred.
  • “The maternity staff will monitor your baby’s heart rate and the placental attachment quickly and efficiently. Being in hospital also means that you and your baby can get emergency treatment should you need it.”
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