Pregnancy not only changes your body, it also changes the way you walk. Your center of gravity adjusts, which can cause you to have difficulty maintaining your balance.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that 27 percent of pregnant women experience a fall during their pregnancy. Fortunately, your body has several safeguards to protect against injury. This includes cushioning amniotic fluid and strong muscles in the uterus.
Falling can happen to anyone. But if it happens when you’re falling for two, here are some important things to know.
Your uterus probably won’t suffer any permanent damage or trauma from falling lightly. But if the fall is very hard or hits at a certain angle, it’s possible you could experience some complications.
Examples of potential complications related to falls include:
- placental abruption
- broken bones in an expectant mom
- altered mental status
- fetal skull injury
Around 10 percent of women who fall while pregnant seek medical care.
When to See Your Doctor
Most of the time, a minor fall won’t be enough to cause a problem with you and/or your baby. But there are some symptoms that indicate you may need to seek medical attention. These include:
- You had a fall that resulted in a direct blow to your stomach.
- You’re leaking amniotic fluid and/or vaginal bleeding.
- You’re experiencing severe pain, especially in your pelvis, stomach, or uterus.
- You’re experiencing faster contractions or are starting to have contractions.
- You notice your baby isn’t moving as often.
If you experience these or other symptoms that may concern you, call your doctor or seek emergency medical treatment.
Testing for Injury
If you experience a fall, the first thing your doctor will do is check you for any injuries that may require treatment. This could include a broken or sprained bone, or any injuries to your chest that could affect your breathing.
After that, your doctor will assess your baby. Some tests they may use include measuring fetal heart tones using a Doppler or ultrasound.
Your doctor will also ask if you have noticed any changes that could indicate concern for your baby, such as contractions, uterine bleeding, or uterine tenderness.
Your doctor may use continuous electronic fetal monitoring. This monitors any contractions you may be having as well as your baby’s heart rate. With this information, your doctor can determine if you’re experiencing any complications like a placental abruption or a slow heart rate.
Blood testing, particularly for blood count and blood type, might also be recommended. This is because women who have an Rh-negative blood type could be at risk for internal bleeding that could affect their baby. Sometimes, doctors recommend giving a shot known as a Rho-GAM shot to reduce the likelihood for injury.
Preventing Future Falls
You can’t always prevent falls, but there are some steps you can take to prevent future falls. Take these steps to keep yourself on two feet:
- To avoid slipping, look carefully at surfaces for water or other liquids.
- Wear shoes with a grip or nonskid surface.
- Avoid high heels or “wedge” shoes that are easy to trip in while wearing.
- Use safety measures like holding on to hand rails while going down the stairs.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads that keep you from seeing your feet.
- Walk on level surfaces whenever possible, and avoid walking on grassy areas.
You shouldn’t have to avoid physical activity for fear of falling. Instead, try activities on even surfaces like a treadmill or track.
Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor will continue to monitor the placement of your baby as well as placenta. Getting regular prenatal care and managing any conditions that may come up throughout your pregnancy can help you deliver a healthy baby.
If you’re concerned about your health after a fall, call your doctor or seek emergency medical treatment right away.