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How to wear the seatbelt during pregnancy

  • It’s a common worry during pregnancy that if you wear a seatbelt it might put too much pressure on your stomach and your baby, especially if an accident occurs.
  • Studies have found that it’s safer for both mum and baby if you do wear a seatbelt and is much more dangerous to not wear one at all.
  • Whilst wearing a seat belt during pregnancy may not be comfortable, it will improve safety for both mother and baby.
  • When you must do the driving, learn to place the seat belt in the correct position - There is definitely a correct way to wear a seat belt.
  • Place the lap-belt part of the restraint under your abdomen and across your upper thighs so it's snug and comfortable - The lap belt should never ever be placed on or above your belly. 
  • Wearing a lap belt alone will do more harm than good. Research done by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found that rapid deceleration in a crash caused injuries to the unborn baby when a pregnant woman was only wearing a lap belt.  
  • Adjust your sitting position so the belt crosses your shoulder without cutting into your neck.  
  • The shoulder belt should cross over your collar bone and lay between your breasts. It should be positioned so that it does not hit your neck.  
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.  
  • When travelling in cars fitted with air bags, the front seat (whether it be the driving seat or the passenger seat) should be pushed back as far as practical. 
  • The belt should be worn as tight as possible -In this way the forces applied in a sudden impact can be absorbed by the body's frame.

The air bag and pregnant drivers

  • After much debate over pregnancy and seat belts and air bags - it’s important to note that both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists support the use of properly adjusted three point safety belts and enabled air bags.  
  • Air bags are meant to work with seat belts in protecting both mother and child. 
  • Air bags inflate within approximately one-twentieth of a second after a crash. The inflated air bag creates a protective cushion between the driver or passenger and the steering wheel, dashboard, and windscreen.  
  •  It is safe to be near airbags whilst you’re pregnant - Safety experts recommend that all car occupants (not just pregnant women) should move their seat as far back as possible and tilt it slightly backwards. This maximises the distance between your chest and the steering wheel if you are driving.   
  • Doctors strongly recommend leaving airbags turned on, whether riding as a passenger or the driver.  
  • Leave air bags operational; just remember that you should have a good 30cm or so between your stomach and a potential air bag.  No authorities have yet issued definitive guidelines on the use of air bags by pregnant women, though some manufacturers advise that mums-to-be should not sit in front seats with a passenger air bag. 
  • Avoid leaning or reaching forward, and sit back in the seat with as little slack in the seat belt as possible - this will reduce your forward movement in a crash and allow the airbag to inflate correctly.  
  • To cut your risks of injury even further, though, you could sit buckled –in at the back seat, which is the safest place to travel in any car.

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