Help! I Just Had a C-Section. Can I Drive?

When you leave the hospital, the nurses hand you a packet of information with everything you need to know about your recovery. Included in that information is an instruction not to drive until you’re recovered.

Hold up!

What do you mean that I have driving restrictions after my c-section? I was surprised and had no idea how I would manage without driving. My baby had appointments, as did I, and I’m not one to stay in the house for too long. 

I had a lot of questions, and you probably do as well. So, here is what you need to know about driving after a c-section. 

Why Can I Not Drive Right After a C-Section?

You might think that you can drive immediately, but the pain that you have after your surgery might prevent you from making the split-second decisions required while driving. The sudden movements could be painful, so it’s wise to wait until you’re healed to get behind the wheel again.

mom drives a car after giving birth

There is also the worry that driving could loosen or pull the stitches of your c-section. Sudden braking can cause sharp pain or lead to problems with your incision. You might not realize it, but pressing down on a brake pedal quickly uses your abdominal muscles, which were cut during the surgery.

Also, don’t forget that if you’re on pain medication, some advise you to avoid driving. You aren’t supposed to operate heavy machinery if you are taking those medications, and a car is considered heavy machinery. In some cases, if you were in an accident with pain management medication in your system, you could face legal issues.

Note that…

Another reason that you need to avoid driving is that you aren’t allowed to lift more than your baby’s weight to stop your stitches from opening. That’s standard for most abdominal surgeries. However, that weight restriction means that you can’t lift your baby’s car seat to put it into the car.

Also, if you are planning to start mopping right after delivery, be aware. Here read how long to wait to resume the other household chores.

How Soon Can I Start Driving Again?

When you can start driving again is dependent on your doctor. Some doctors instruct their patients to wait six weeks before driving, while others want you to wait until you are finished taking your prescription pain medication.

Everyone is different, but I know when I came home for all four of my c-sections, being in the passenger seat was uncomfortable. I didn’t enjoy the bumps at all. So, being in the driver seat would have been even harder.

The general thought is that you need to wait 2-6 weeks to start driving, but three weeks tends to be the average time when women feel healed enough to drive. However, your doctor might not give you the official “all-clear” until six weeks.

How Can You Tell If You’re Ready to Drive?

Aside from talking to your doctor, you can take a self-test at home. Of course, it’s not a clinical test, but it might help you answer the question for yourself if you’re ready to drive.

Here is the “Am I Ready to Drive Yet” test.

Try hopping up and down on one foot. Then, kick the tire of the car behind sitting behind the wheel of the vehicle. Do you feel any discomfort or pain?

Another test is to get into your vehicle with the engine off and practice braking. If it feels okay, then chances are you are okay to drive. 

If you don’t feel any discomfort or pain, then you’re free to drive. Remember, you need to be able to slam hard on the brakes suddenly. If you know that you’ll be in pain, you might hesitate to take the necessary steps. 

Aside from this little test, here are some questions to consider as a guide to when you can drive.

  • Will braking the vehicle cause you any discomfort? 
  • If you need to brake suddenly, would you hesitate because it might cause you pain? If so, then you shouldn’t be driving.
  • Are you off of any pain medication that is stronger than Tylenol, such as Percocet? If not, you aren’t ready to drive a vehicle just yet.

Are You Insured to Drive After a C-Section?

You should consider your insurance company after you have a c-section. Most companies have no issues if you’re driving after your surgery, but some want a letter from the attending physician to release you to drive insured.

The reason that some insurance companies have an issue with you driving after surgery is that, if you were in an accident, the insurance of the person you hit could claim that you weren’t competent and capable of driving. Even worse, your insurance could deny you the coverage because you chose to drive before you were medically fit.

It’s a smart idea to call your insurance company ahead of time so you know what to expect. You’ll know that you need the letter and you can ask your doctor at your one-week check-up what to expect and when he can give you that letter.

Insurance companies don’t have a standard timeframe. They leave it up to your doctor to decide if you’re ready to drive.

Do I Need to Get Help with Driving?

Husband driving for her wife

If your partner has to go back to work soon after your baby arrives, it could be troublesome not to be allowed to drive. Here are some suggestions to consider.

  • Ask friends and family to take you wherever you need to go. It only lasts a few weeks, and this isn’t a permanent problem. You will need help going to doctor’s appointments and the store if required. 
  • Pay someone to drive you if you need to go somewhere. That could be a friend’s teenager or a neighbor or hiring a chauffeur. Everyone likes to make a few dollars on the side!
  • Consider an Uber or other car services if you need to go somewhere.
  • Try to plan times that you need to leave around the times that your partner will be home. 

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to do is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you decide if you’re healed enough to get behind the wheel of a car. Don’t stress; you’ll be able to drive again before too long.

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