If you have been in an auto accident while pregnant, you should seek immediate medical attention, regardless of the severity. Not only can the mother sustain an injury, but so can the unborn child. Fetal trauma can stem from the mother sustaining a blow to the abdominal area, lack of oxygen, etc, accounting for 82% of fetal deaths. The following injuries may stem from an auto accident:
Although rare, if the uterus and stomach become punctured, due to abdominal trauma, or if the mother experiences a period of cardiac arrest and stops breathing, the fetus may die. If you were involved in an auto accident while pregnant, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Car accidents are very stressful and traumatic events, this stress may cause a pregnant woman to go into labor prematurely. A premature birth describes a birth that occurred prior to 37 weeks of fetal development. This may be dangerous as a premature fetus runs the risk of developing serious disabilities. The earlier a child is born, the more severe potential disabilities may become.
Typically, the term ‘high-risk’ describes cases where the mother and/or unborn child require careful and continuous monitoring due to some type of life-threatening complication. If a pregnant woman sustains any kind of injury, the rest of her pregnancy will be considered high-risk.
Coup and Contrecoup Injuries
A coup/contrecoup injury occurs when the head sustains a serious blow, and as a result, the brain becomes bruised/damaged. This injury most commonly will affect the mother, but may also affect the fetus (referred to as ‘shaken baby syndrome’).
Placental abruption refers to an injury where the placenta either partially or completely detaches from the mother’s uterus before childbirth. Abdominal trauma sustained by a pregnant woman can dramatically increase the chances of placental abruption. When this occurs, the blood flow that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby is cut off. Furthermore, this injury may also cause internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, a miscarriage, or premature labor. However, placental abruption might not display any symptoms.
If worn correctly, a seatbelt will not harm a pregnant woman, nor her unborn child. A seatbelt should be worn across the boney regions of the body, the upper strap resting across the upper chest, and the lower strap against the pelvis.
Furthermore, airbags distribute the force of an impact upon collision, they are key safety devices that aid in protection and the prevention of fatal injury. When paired with the correct utilization of a seatbelt, the potential of severe injury decreases.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
After an auto accident, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention. Not all injuries will appear immediately after the accident. A medical professional will be able to diagnose and treat your injuries, preventing the development of future injuries. After you have been cleared to go home, your doctor may recommend that you watch for additional symptoms that may indicate a further injury. These symptoms may include:
- Vaginal Bleeding
- Changes in Frequency or Strength of the Baby’s Movements
- Severe or Unrelenting Headaches
- Persistent Vomiting (Not Related to Morning Sickness)
- Chills / Fever
Exchange Information and Collect Evidence
After an auto accident, call the police. Depending on your area, and the severity of your accident, law enforcement may or may not appear at the scene of the accident. Each state has a different requirement and time limit for reporting auto accidents to the police. If the police are unable to attend the scene of the accident, you should still file a police report, as this will help expedite your insurance claim.
If you are able, exchange contact information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Gather as much information as you can, and document the scene to the best of your ability, utilizing photographs, video recordings, and written notes.