How To Properly Wear Your Seatbelt During Pregnancy

Seatbelt

Let’s be very blunt here: There is absolutely no reason for you ever to not wear your seatbelt while you are in a car that is moving. A seatbelt that is worn properly will prevent serious injury to you and your baby and can save both your lives if you are in a car crash.

Accidents while riding in a motor vehicle are one of the leading causes of death and injury for pregnant women. Motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon for pregnant women. A 2009 survey of women conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 1.5 out of every 100 women said they had been injured in a car accident during their most recent pregnancy. The survey found that car accidents that caused injuries were more common in younger pregnant women.

If you are in any kind of a car accident, wearing your seatbelt greatly reduces your risk of injury or death. You may still be injured, but you would almost certainly be hurt much worse if you were not wearing a seatbelt.

Wearing Your Seatbelt Properly

The proper way to wear your seatbelt is to buckle the lap portion of the belt low across your hips, touching your thighs, so that it is under your belly. The diagonal portion of the belt should be positioned so that it crosses between your breasts and then is off to the side of your belly, not crossing your belly. When you wear a seatbelt this way, it keeps you securely in your seat. (And this is the proper way to wear a seatbelt whether you are pregnant or not.)

Do not wear only the lap portion of your seatbelt. Wearing both the lap and shoulder portions of the belt gives you and your baby the greatest amount of safety in the event of an accident.

This advice goes for seatbelts in airplanes as well. As with car seatbelts, you should wear the belt buckled low across your hips, under your belly and snug up against your hip bones. Even if the seatbelt light is not on, you should stay belted while you are in your seat because there is always the possibility of unexpected air turbulence that can start without warning.

Airbags

If you have airbags that can be switched off, make sure they are on. Airbags offer an increased amount of protection in a serious car crash. If you are in the driver’s seat, position your seat as far back as you can and still be able to reach the gas and brake pedals. Your breastbone, the spot where your shoulder belt crosses between your breasts, should be at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel. If you are in the passenger seat, there should be at least 10 inches of space between your breastbone and the dashboard. If your car has a tilting steering wheel, tilt it further up.

A website from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has multiple diagrams of how to properly wear your seatbelt from Safercar.gov- make sure to check them out!

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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