Pregnancy Complications

A Fall or Blow to the Stomach During Pregnancy

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Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are, accidents do occur. This is all the more worrying if you are pregnant and you suffer a fall or blow to your stomach area. Many women suffer a stomach trauma during their pregnancy without any problems developing. However, you must judge the severity of the blow or fall and contact your doctor or midwife if you are worried. There are many symptoms to be aware of if you have a stomach trauma and it is essential you seek medical advice immediately if you suffer from any of them.

A fall

Falling can result from sheer clumsiness but it can also be caused by your body reacting to pregnancy changes which affect your centre of gravity. As your breasts and tummy grow, your centre of gravity changes. This can affect any movements which require balance. Also, the pregnancy hormone relaxin causes your joints to loosen, leaving you unsteady on your feet. Relaxin is a hormone produced by pregnant women which loosens connective tissue and joints in order to let the uterus grow and the pelvis to widen in preparation for child birth. Looser joints and a changing centre of gravity can leave you feeling unsteady and wobbly on your feet, which can cause you to fall or sway into sharp objects such as kitchen counters and tables.

Preventing a fall

Some accidents cannot be avoided, but there are several things you can do during pregnancy to make a fall or trip less likely to occur. These include:

  • Use handrails when taking the stairs.
  • Stand up slowly (standing up quickly can cause you to feel faint as the blood pools in your feet and legs).
  • Wear flat comfortable shoes instead of high heels.
  • Do not lift more than 15lbs during the second half of pregnancy.
  • Sit on a stool or chair in the shower.

A blow to the tummy

Blows to your stomach can result from accidently running into cabinets, doors and counters. Small children can accidentally hit you in the stomach or random movements by other people can cause a blow to occur. However, purposeful violence should never be tolerated, not just for your safety but for that of the baby. Abusive relationships are unhealthy and dangerous, particularly during pregnancy as this is a time when women are more likely to suffer some form of physical abuse from their partner. If you are in an abusive situation get help straight away. Talk to your doctor, midwife, counsellor or contact a women's helpline.

Avoiding a blow

While a hit or blow to your tummy is usually unavoidable as you do not see it coming, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of it happening. These include:

  • Keep an eye out for open cabinets and doors.
  • Do not walk on newly washed or waxed floors if possible.
  • Wear soft shoes with sensible soles, especially when walking on snow, ice or wet surfaces.
  • Remind young children to be careful around your tummy.
  • If your relationship is abusive, get help straight away.

Car accidents

Although you cannot predict whether a car accident will occur and may not be able to prevent it, there are certain safety measures you can do to reduce your chances of being in a car accident and lessen any damage caused if you are in a car accident. The most important way to prevent or lessen any injuries from occurring is to wear your seat belt at all times. Make sure the lap belt goes under your bump and the shoulder belt goes between your breasts and across the side of your stomach. You may be scared that the belt will crush your baby in the case of an accident, but by wearing the seat belt correctly you are giving yourself and your baby the best chance of survival if an accident were to happen. Pregnancy may also make you more tired than usual, so never drive if you are feeling tired or sleepy.

When to seek professional advice

If you have been in an accident, had a fall or suffered a blow to your tummy it is advisable to seek medical attention immediately. Depending on the severity of the accident you will need to decide whether to call your doctor or midwife or go straight to the hospital emergency room. It is unlikely that a small thump or bump to the belly will hurt or damage your baby. The baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid, a thick uterus wall and layers of fat providing it with a heavily cushioned environment. However, if in any doubt seek professional advice. The uterus can sometimes be damaged and it is always best to be checked out by your doctor to be safe. If your doctor is concerned by what you tell them they will most likely order an ultrasound for you.

Examinations at hospital

If you have suffered a significant blow or fall, visit the hospital immediately. You will be examined to check that both you and the baby are ok. The baby's heart rate will be monitored and you may be asked to provide a blood sample. If the accident was severe you may be X-rayed to check for any broken bones. Most X-rays produce miniscule amounts of radiation which are not dangerous to your baby. You may be asked to stay for a few hours while you are monitored or even overnight so that the doctors can ensure you and your baby are both alright. Some injuries can take time to show themselves. If your trauma was the result of abuse you may be asked to speak with a trained counsellor or social worker.

Warning symptoms or signs

Even if you have attended hospital or been to see your doctor, the following are symptoms which you need to keep an eye out for and if you suffer any of them, call your doctor or visit the hospital immediately:

  • Bleeding from the vagina.
  • Uterine contractions or labour pains.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Feeling faint or dizzy.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina.
  • Decreased baby movement.

We cannot always prevent a fall or blow to the stomach but by being mindful of our progressively wobbly status and by taking care when playing with young children and exercising, we can do our best to avoid any accidents. When pregnant, always be extra careful and if your tummy does suffer a blow or fall, know the warning symptoms of a severe trauma and do not hesitate to call your midwife or doctor to express your concerns.

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