PREGNANCY GUIDE: How to Buckle Up during Pregnancy

Posted by queenmadison

We all know that seat belts save lives. When you are pregnant, a seat belt not only can save your life, but also the life of your unborn child.
If you're pregnant, you've likely heard how critical it is that you have a well-designed car seat to protect your baby in a car crash. These seats are so important, hospitals often won't allow parents to place their newborn in a vehicle without an infant seat. It's true: car seats save lives. But have you considered what is necessary to protect the life of your unborn baby (and yourself) during pregnancy?
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the seat belt provides the very best protection in an automobile for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. There is absolutely no evidence that seat belts increase the chance of injury to the fetus, uterus, or placenta—no matter how severe the collision. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts reduce the risk of death for front seat occupants in passenger cars by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
How to Buckle Up Your Unborn Baby
-Using a seat belt correctly is important for everyone, but proper belt use and positioning are especially crucial for the pregnant woman. Here's the right way to wear the belt:
-Use both the shoulder belt and the lap belt.
-Position the lap belt low, below your tummy. That way, your hipbones absorb any impact, rather than your belly (and your baby!). Never place the belt above or on your belly.
-Make sure the shoulder strap is over your shoulder, not under it.
-The shoulder strap should be snug across your chest, between your breasts, and cross your abdomen diagonally. This gives you full protection from crashing into the steering wheel or being thrown from the car.
-If your seat belt is uncomfortable, adjust it. Many cars allow you to modify the height of the shoulder belt to a more comfortable position. If your car does not have this feature, attach a thick piece of foam to the belt strap to make it more comfortable.
Safe Seating and Air Bags
As your baby—and belly—grow, you'll find you need to adjust your seat for comfort and safety when in your vehicle. The NHTSA recommends that pregnant women move the front seat back as far as possible.
"Your breastbone should be at least ten inches from the steering wheel or dashboard," recommends the NHTSA. "As your abdomen grows during pregnancy, move the seat back to keep as much distance as possible" while still allowing the driver to safely reach the pedals.
Some vehicles are equipped with an air bag switch, and you may have wondered whether you should disable your car's air bag during pregnancy. The easy answer is no. Doctors recommend that pregnant women wear seat belts and leave the air bag switch on, since they work together to protect both the pregnant woman and her fetus in a crash. The NHTSA stresses that air bags are not a substitute for wearing a seat belt: "Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Without a seat belt, a pregnant woman can be thrown into a rapidly opening air bag—a movement of such force could injure or even kill the mother and her unborn child."
If you are involved in an accident, even a minor one, see your healthcare provider immediately. Even if you feel you suffered no injuries, you'll want to be absolutely sure that both you and your baby are OK. Take comfort in knowing that your baby is cushioned by the amniotic fluid-filled sac inside your uterus, which is protected by your own muscles, bones, and organs.