For women, being pregnant is a joyous time, but also a period filled with worries for their unborn babies. Many women try to do everything they can to give their babies the best chance of being born healthy. While they may focus on the dangers of drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, and exposure to toxic substances, they may not consider the dangers of getting into their automobile every day to go to work, visit family and friends, and do their errands. However, being hit by a negligent driver in a crash can cause serious complications in a pregnancy or the death of an unborn baby.
Complications Pregnant Women Could Suffer in a Car Accident
Even minor fender benders or rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries to the victims, like traumatic brain injury, fractures, and back and spinal injuries. If a pregnant woman is involved in one of these accidents, her normal pregnancy could develop into a high-risk pregnancy due to the injuries she or her fetus suffer that could cause dangerous pregnancy complications. Her fetus could be hurt even if the expectant mother suffered no injuries or there was no impact in the wreck simply from a quick stopping motion or abrupt jolt as the driver tries to avoid a crash. Some of the dangers a pregnant woman and her unborn baby face include:
- Miscarriage. A baby is usually protected in its amniotic fluid. But, if the woman’s stomach or uterus is punctured or she goes into cardiac arrest and stops breathing, she could have a miscarriage—the loss of the fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. In some cases, she could suffer a partial miscarriage where part of the fetal tissue is expelled from the uterus.
- High–risk pregnancy. The accident may put the expectant mother or the unborn baby at higher risk of problems, such as slower growth of the baby, high blood pressure or stress, preterm labor complications, problems with the placenta, or pre-eclampsia—a disorder that can cause high blood pressure, large amounts of protein in the urine, and a poor prognosis for the baby and mother.
- Premature birth. A baby is considered premature if he is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These babies often must spend weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit because of problems with breathing, controlling their temperature, eating, and other health complications. Depending on how premature the birth is, the baby can also suffer long-term developmental problems. The stress a car accident places on a pregnant woman’s body can cause her to go into labor early.
- Birth defects. An unborn baby who suffers injuries or is born prematurely is more likely to suffer birth defects.
- Coup-Contrecoup brain injury. This injury occurs when a blow to the head (coup) results in the opposite side of the brain hitting the skull (contrecoup), so two sides of the brain are injured. Even if the fetus is not hit in the accident, he can suffer injuries similar to shaken baby syndrome—a serious brain injury that can cause devastating brain damage.
- Placental abruption. This is a serious condition that can cause the placenta to partially or completely detach from the uterus and can be life-threatening to a fetus. It is more likely to occur if the mother suffers an injury to her abdomen.
What You Should Do After an Accident If You Are Pregnant
If you suffer any injuries in a car crash and are pregnant, you should call 911. This is especially true if you lose consciousness, experience vaginal bleeding or leakage, or feel pain in your belly or pelvis. Even if you do not believe you were hurt, you should see your physician as soon as possible to be certain you and your unborn baby did not suffer injuries you are unaware of. You should seek immediate medical care if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Swelling of your fingers or face
- Increases in vaginal discharge or a leakage of fluids
- Severe or constant headaches
- Abdominal or shoulder pain
- Vomiting that you do not believe is associated with morning sickness
- A fever or chills
- Changes in your baby’s movements
- Pain when you urinate or more frequent urination
- Fainting or dizziness
If you or your unborn baby suffered complications from a car accident or your baby died, our compassionate and experienced legal team understands the stress and grief you may be experiencing. We’re here to handle the legal aspects of your situation so you do not have to. We will fight to get you and your baby the compensation you deserve from the negligent driver. Start an online chat or call us at (706) 863-6600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal options.