According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 170,000 collisions each year involve pregnant women. Motor vehicle crashes are also identified as a leading case of both traumatic fetal death and injury and death for pregnant women. In addition, the University of Toronto researchers found that pregnant women were 42% more likely to be involved in a serious car accident compared to when they weren’t carrying a child.
When you are pregnant, any type of motor vehicle collision presents a unique risk. Complications include internal bleeding, miscarriage, premature labor, and a formerly healthy pregnancy suddenly becoming high-risk. You may also experience mental and emotional trauma due to the accident itself, any birth complications that arise and, in extreme cases, the loss of your baby.
Common Pregnancy Complications After a Crash
One study found that up to 7% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are complicated by traumatic injury. When you’ve been in a car accident, those injuries and events include (but are not limited to):
- Contrecoup injury: This type of injury occurs when your body is forced violently in one direction before being jerked in another. The sudden movement, which can happen when you have to brake to avoid a collision, can have an effect similar to shaken baby syndrome on the fetus, who can suffer birth defects and developmental delays as a result.
- Placental abruption: This condition results when the placenta is prematurely separated from the uterine wall. Potential complications for the baby include poor physical development, low birth weight, and premature birth. The mother can suffer severe blood loss and require a transfusion.
- Miscarriage: Miscarriage is the accidental loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. If the loss occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is a stillbirth.
- Premature birth: Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are regarded as premature, with those born before the six-month mark is more likely to have serious problems like inability to stay warm, eat, or even breathe on their own. Some may develop cerebral palsy, cognitive impairments, and other long-term disabilities.
Even if none of these tragic events occur, you may still have to be treated by a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Also known as perinatologists or maternal-fetal specialists, they provide necessary treatment that can exceed the costs associated with a normal pregnancy.
What to Do After the Crash
If you are involved in a car crash, get yourself off the road and to a safe location unless you are too injured to move. If you experience any of the following, get immediate medical attention:
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Vaginal bleeding
Even if you don’t believe you were hurt, see your doctor as soon as possible. If you develop any of these conditions in the hours or days after the accident, seek emergency medical care if you cannot see your doctor right away:
- Constant and severe headaches
- Facial swelling
- Fever and chills
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting that does not appear to be related to morning sickness
- Painful urination
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding
- A change in your baby’s movements
Depending on the circumstances, your doctor may induce labor if your wellbeing, or that of your baby, is at risk.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Dealing with injuries after any car accident is difficult enough, but serious injuries during pregnancy can be especially devastating. Not only are you struggling with emotional trauma, but you may incur significant financial losses in the form of high medical bills, inability to work, counseling costs, and more.
At Fales & Fales, P.A., our Maine personal injury attorneys have years of experience in handling these sensitive cases and providing parents with the compassionate representation they need and deserve. When another driver’s reckless or negligent actions leave you in pain, impact your baby’s future, or cause you to lose a child, we’re here for you. To schedule a private and supportive consultation, contact us.