Rough Riders: Here’s What to Know About Off-Roading Activities During Pregnancy

Now that summer is here; my inbox is simply flooded with messages from expecting mamas. All of you want to know what’s safe and what isn’t. In particular, I’ve heard from many of you who want to know about off-roading while pregnant.

Really bumpy roads while pregnant isn’t always ideal. However, hitting bumps while pregnant on the street you live on shouldn’t be a big concern. But what about off-roading while pregnant or riding an ATV while pregnant? I will cover all of this below so you can still get out there and have fun without harming that sweet baby growing inside you!

Are bumpy roads safe during pregnancy?

Let me start here with bumpy roads. Especially the bumpy roads that take you home. A newly pregnant and panicked mama named Jessie messaged me about the bumpy dirt road she lives on.

In rural areas, these kinds of roads surely are more common. But are they more dangerous for your baby?

Don’t worry! Bumpy roads and a bumpy car ride shouldn’t affect your baby as long as you drive slowly. If you happen to live on a dirt road with lots of bumps, just take it easy as you drive, and don’t plow over the terrain. Learn how much pressure your belly bump can take.

Speeding down a bumpy road can be bad for the baby, especially toward the end of your pregnancy. You don’t need to move to the suburbs or the city, but drive slowly and watch those bumps and dips, and you should be fine.

Are speed bumps bad for pregnancy?

Now, let’s head back to the suburbs and cities out there. These are the places you’ll find speed bumps. Are they bad for pregnancy?

As it turns out, yes, speed bumps could harm your growing fetus!

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that driving at moderate speeds over roads with speed bumps can create enough force to hurt the baby. They found that going over 27mph was far too high for fetal organs to withstand, especially the brain.

It’s wise to pay attention when you’re driving in any setting. If you are, you will notice signs that warn you of all sorts of things. Speed bumps tend to be one of them.

The posted speed is usually capped at 15mph in places with speed bumps. And that is the maximum speed you should ever go over a speed bump, especially while pregnant. Be aware as you head down those roads with speed bumps while driving.

And if someone else is driving you, make sure they obey the posted speed limits, especially in areas with speed bumps. If your husband wants to live on the edge and throw caution to the wind, remind him of what going to quickly over a speed bump can do to a vehicle and the baby too!

Can bumpy roads make you go into labor?

pregnant woman having contractions

There’s not a drop of evidence that has linked a bumpy road ride to inducing labor. That said, take it easy on bumpy roads of all kinds. You don’t want to wind up causing harm to your baby. While driving a slow speed down a bumpy road isn’t going to do anything bad, if you race over that kind of terrain, you’re playing with fire.

What to know about off-roading activities while pregnant

Now, let me address my outdoor enthusiast mamas. I hate to tell you this, but it’s probably better to wait until after having the baby participate in your favorite off-roading activities.

Many women still do so, though I have to advise against it. I urge you to speak to your doctor about any particular activity you’re considering before you do it.

The March of Dimes has said that bouncy and jerky activities in movements are something you should not do. Unless you or the driver of the off-road vehicle is going super slow, you will likely have complications in your pregnancy from off-roading, and even that is generous at best.

There are certain things to consider, such as how far along you are in your pregnancy, your health, the health of the baby, and so on. As you speak to your doctor about this, be specific about what type of off-roading activity you hope to do. If your doctor isn’t into off-roading, he or she may simply assume you mean riding down a dirt road in a regular car.

Should your doctor say the particular activity for off-roading you have in mind is ok, remember that you should always take things slow. I know that likely takes all the fun out of it, but would you rather have fun for a moment that may cost you the life of your baby?

Additionally, it would help if you never rode in a vehicle that doesn’t have doors or proper airflow. Even if you drove like a snail in a Jeep without doors down an off-road trail, you could risk injury to yourself, the baby, or both.

Of course, there are some off-roading activities you should not ever do while pregnant. That would include racing, steep trails, or bouncing quickly down those extremely bumpy roads.

With racing, even on the street, that’s just a bad idea waiting to happen. You could crash, roll over, and cause serious harm to yourself and your baby.

Unfortunately, some of you will be sad about the news I’m about to share, but I want you to be safe. So, that said, you should never ride an ATC, four-wheeler, or dirt bike while pregnant. That goes for riding a side by side while pregnant too.

These off-road vehicles are dangerous for anyone. They become even more dangerous when you’re pregnant. There are no doors, roofs, or roll cages to protect you. Anything can happen, and do you want to risk it? Just wait until you’ve had your postpartum checkup, and you can arrange for someone to watch your baby while you get back into your extreme outdoor activities.


I’ve put together some of the FAQs that kept popping up to help better answer all your questions below.

Can you ride 4-wheelers while pregnant?

Nope, nope, and nope. Please don’t ride on a 4-wheeler during your pregnancy. If you don’t believe me, ask your doctor.

Can jerks on bumpy roads cause miscarriage in early pregnancy?

As I mentioned earlier, jerks on bumpy roads can’t cause miscarriage early in pregnancy. I’d avoid going fast down any jerky, bumpy road to prevent problems. However, a bumpy car ride is less likely to cause severe trauma. If you have an accident, that could cause a miscarriage (see my post about that here).

Can a bumpy car ride cause placental abruption?

For those unfamiliar with the term, placental abruption is a serious pregnancy complication. Generally, though, it is not very common and happens when the placenta either partially or fully separates from the inner wall of the uterus, which can block your baby’s oxygen and nutrient supply.

woman putting hand on baby bump

This is something that comes on quite suddenly and will cause heavy bleeding for you. It is more likely to happen in the last trimester, more toward the end. You will know because you’ll have abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, back pain, and contractions.

Often, the cause of it is unknown. However, it is mostly suspected that trauma and abdominal injuries, like falling or getting into a car accident, are the key instigators of this complication.

So, a bumpy car ride in itself shouldn’t cause this. But if you get into an accident either on regular roads or off-roads, that may harm your baby.

Can you go trail riding while pregnant?

Ah, let’s ditch the wheels and talk about horses for a moment. I have a cousin that loves horses. She has her stables, and we’ve all been to enjoy a trail ride several times over the years.

But my cousin will not let you go horseback riding if you’re pregnant. When she had her kids (she has 5), she only hated being pregnant because she couldn’t go riding. Horseback riding risks falling from a great height and causing trauma to the abdominal area.

If you love horses, consider visiting the stables but not for rides until after healing from having the baby.

Can you ride an ATV while pregnant?

No, you can’t ride an ATV while pregnant. And you can’t be riding side by side while pregnant too. Please don’t! The risk for trauma is exceptionally high here.

Does riding a go-kart cause miscarriage?

One of the neighborhood boys had a go-kart when I was a kid. We loved taking turns riding it down the street. One day, one of my friends spun out and flung herself into the grass. She got hurt pretty badly.

And we were teenagers and not pregnant. Go-karting brings with it quite a bit of risk. You could harm your baby if something happens while driving a go-kart or riding in one while pregnant.

For starters, go-karts are easy to crash. Racing is a bad idea while pregnant, especially in these. Even if you’re only driving it on a serene stretch of street in your neighborhood, you never know what may happen.

But if you go to that new entertainment complex with all the go-karts and fun stuff, do not ride the go-karts. Other drivers may crash into you, which can cause you to lose the baby.

Another thing about go-karts is that they aren’t made the same way as regular cars. They lack the same suspension as regular cars, so you’ll feel every bump, even if your surface isn’t bumpy.

Falling out of a go-kart is easy too. It may not have a seatbelt to keep you in, but the impact can squish your baby bump even if it does.

All in all, off-roading isn’t the best idea while you’re pregnant. But if you live on a bumpy road, driving down it slowly in a regular vehicle shouldn’t do any harm.

2 thoughts on “Rough Riders: Here’s What to Know About Off-Roading Activities During Pregnancy”

  1. Hi there thanks for this. I Was wondering what you thought about driving along dirt roads in rural south America? I will be 3 months when we go for 4 weeks, and the only way in and out of our house is along a basically disused dirt track with lots of ditches, holes, even little sideways hills which tips the car to one side where there has been a landslide before. We go very slowly but there can be quite big nosedives and we sometimes hit unexpected potholes when going faster along the “main” dirt road (of course go slow when we can see them) – do you think this is safe?

    • Thanks for commenting, Lily. If it’s the only way in or out, I recommend that you just allow for extra time when coming and going and traveling exceedingly slow on those roads. Try not to take them often, perhaps lumping your trips out of the property together, so you’re not going back and forth so frequently. By taking the time to go very slow, it should mitigate the bumpiness while on the road. Make sure you’re seated properly, too, to protect yourself and the baby. Best of luck, mama, and let me know how it goes!

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