What to Do if You Have an Accident During Pregnancy?

Accident pregnancy

An accident can happen at any time. Maybe you were involved in a car accident, or you tripped and fell in your home, or you slipped on an icy sidewalk and landed hard on your rump.

What should you, as a pregnant woman, do if you are involved in any kind of an accident? When do you just need to call your healthcare provider and when should you go right to the emergency room?

The good news is that your uterus is excellent at protecting your baby. It is muscular and can stand up to a lot. In addition, the sac of amniotic fluid around your baby acts as a shock absorber that gives him or her even more protection.

Even so, a bad accident—either a car accident or any other kind of serious trauma—can cause damage. A bad accident can also cause a tear in the membranes that hold the amniotic fluid. The biggest danger is that the placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus, either partially or completely, a condition that is called placental abruption. Placental abruptions can cause hemorrhage, premature labor, or miscarriage.

What Should You Do?

A lot depends on two factors: how serious the accident is and what trimester of your pregnancy you are in.

If you are in a minor fender bender accident, where your car and another one bump into each other and the air bags don’t deploy, and if you are in your first trimester of pregnancy, stay calm and make a phone call to your obstetrician or midwife as soon as you can to tell them what happened. She or he may ask you to come into the office to check things out.

What about a more serious car accident? If the air bags in the car you were riding in deployed (gone off), you should ask to be taken to the nearest emergency room to be evaluated. Call 911 or ask someone else to make the call. This also goes if you were injured in any other way during the accident, such as a cut, a broken bone, or if you lost consciousness at all. Tell the emergency medical technicians and the emergency room staff that you are pregnant and how far along in your pregnancy you are. Give them the name and phone number of your obstetrician or midwife.

At the emergency room, you will be examined thoroughly and probably have an ultrasound done. You may need to stay in the ER for several hours for observation to ensure that your condition is stable or may be admitted, depending on your condition.

If you are in some other type of accident, one not involving a car, such as slipping and falling, or you receive a hard blow to your abdomen, call your healthcare provider and tell them what happened.

In the days and even weeks after the accident keep watch for certain symptoms. Serious symptoms include:

  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or passing out
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Fluids leaking from your vagina
  • Pain in your abdomen or pelvis
  • Swelling in your face or fingers
  • Contractions
  • A change in the movements of your baby, such as a reduced frequency or strength of kicks.
  • Fever or chills.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency number. Make sure you tell the dispatcher that you are pregnant.

You should always wear a seatbelt when you are in a car. You can read more about how to wear your seatbelt safely here.

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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