20-25% of women give birth via c-section. A c-section is where a baby is delivered via a cut through the woman’s abdomen into the womb. It is a major operation as a number of layers of muscle are cut.
There is no law or legislation stating that you cannot drive after a c-section and there is unlikely to be anything in your insurance policy preventing it (although you should check). You do not need to notify DVLA. Some doctors will recommend that you don’t drive for 4-6 weeks but every woman is different and whether you are able to drive or not depends on whether you can:
- Do an emergency stop
- Turn your body to look behind you or so that you can see in the mirrors and over your shoulder – effective mirror positioning makes it easier to see around you
- Get into and out of the car by yourself
- Wear your seat belt.
Driving puts various forces onto your body as your body copes with changes in speed and direction. You will experience sideways forces when going around a corner and forwards and backwards forces while braking and accelerating. Bumps in the road will be painful as your body stabilises its core. Many women find it painful to drive in the first few weeks and build up their driving over time afterwards.
What types of vehicles are best for driving after a c-section?
- Vehicles that are fairly tall – SUVs as opposed to sports cars. This is because getting in and out is more like stepping sideways into the vehicle rather than dropping down into a low seat. This also applies to getting the baby into and out of the car.
- Vehicles with a lot of lateral support – sports seats are best, but they tend to be found in sports cars which are lower to the ground
- Vehicles with softer suspension as bumpy suspension can be uncomfortable
- Vehicles with excellent all-around visibility.
Why would you stop driving for a while after a c-section?
- You are not supposed to do any heavy lifting immediately after a c-section, and getting a baby into and out of a car can be difficult, whether you are strapping them into a baby car seat that’s already there or you are carrying them in a car seat. Rules for children in car seats are here.
- If you have to take a lot of painkillers, they can make you drowsy which is not good for driving
- If you ride a motorbike or scooter (but obviously not to take the baby) you need to be able to use your whole body much more in terms of weight transfer for countersteering
- Pain while driving can, itself, be distracting
- The seatbelt can put pressure on the wound, delaying its healing. If you have to perform an emergency stop, or are involved in an accident which causes excessive g-force and pressure on your stomach there is a risk of any stitches rupturing.