Being able to drive is something we take for granted, until we can’t do it! During pregnancy it can seem that something (or someone) might get in the way of you driving yourself around.

But is it safe to drive when pregnant? Is there a point during pregnancy where you should stop driving? Do you need to wear a seat belt when you’re pregnant? And is it illegal to drive while pregnant? We’ve got some answers below.

A woman not driving while pregnant, but standing holding her pregnant belly

Driving while pregnant: Is it safe to drive while pregnant?

Yes, it’s safe to drive while pregnant, all the way through your pregnancy. That said, there are some added risk factors both for and your unborn baby. If you’re in a crash, a knock to your belly could harm your child, especially in your third trimester. There’s also the problem of the nausea and sickness that typically comes with pregnancy. If you’re not feeling well, you might respond to hazards slower.

Your best bet is to take a break from driving during the last few months of your pregnancy. This is partly due to the increased risk of a bump to your belly, but it’s also a matter of comfort. You’ll find it harder to get in and out of the car with a bigger belly, and you’ll need to set your seat back further, which could restrict your access to the pedals.

Pregnancy and driving: Tips for driving safely while pregnant

Following these rules will make both travelling by car and driving while pregnant safer and more comfortable.

  • Be a passenger for the last few months of pregnancy, if you can.
  • When driving, set the seat further back so the steering wheel doesn’t put pressure on your belly. Make sure you can still operate the pedals properly.
  • Only travel in seats with an airbag fitted.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Pregnancy is no excuse to not clip up. Scroll down for tips on how to use your seat belt during pregnancy.
  • If you’re going on a longer trip, give yourself plenty of breaks. It’ll give you a chance to use the toilet, but also help reduce any car sickness you might get.
  • Don’t drive while you’re in labour. This may seem obvious, but it happens. If you don’t have someone to take you to hospital, call an Uber.
  • If you get into an accident and you’re pregnant, see your doctor as soon as possible. If you’re in pain, or there was a knock to your belly, you may want to go to hospital.

A woman driving while she is pregnant

Pregnant driving laws: Is it illegal to drive while pregnant?

No, it’s not illegal to drive while pregnant in Australia. However, every state has laws against driving in a dangerous way. These laws are intentionally vague so they can be used to stop unsafe behaviour that hasn’t been specifically outlawed. It’s also illegal to not wear a seat belt while you’re pregnant.

As long as you’re driving responsibly, you should be fine under the law to drive while pregnant. The tips above will help with that.

Seat belts and pregnancy: How to wear a seat belt while pregnant

You must always wear a seat belt in Australia, whether you are a driver or a passenger, pregnant or not. When you’re pregnant you need to be careful about how you wear the seat belt, so as to not harm your baby.

Firstly, always use a three-point seat belt with a shoulder strap, rather than a lap seat belt. In the event of a crash the shoulder strap will stop your from rocking forward. That can stop you hitting part of the car or prevent turbulence to your baby. The shoulder strap will also spread the force of the seat belt across your body, rather than it all pushing on your waist.

When adjusting the waist strap of your seat belt, put it underneath your belly, never over the top of your bump. Whether you’re in a crash or not, a seat belt over your bump can put a harmful amount of pressure on your baby.

 A pregnant woman clips up her seat belt

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.