Using Seatbelts During Pregnancy

Pregnant women may wonder if they should wear a seat belt while they’re pregnant. The answer is YES!  Experts agree that everyone, including pregnant women, should wear a seat belt when riding in a car. It is well documented that seatbelts reduce the risk of maternal and fetal catastrophes and therefore it is imperative that pregnant women use them.

According to the American College of Obstetricians-Gynecologists (ACOG), motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury to pregnant women and can also cause fetal deaths.

Depending on how severe the car accident is pregnant women could be at risk for miscarriage, preterm labor and other serious complications. In fact, the more injuries a mother has during a car accident, the greater the risk to her unborn baby. If the pregnant woman is wearing her seat belt properly at the time of the accident, she and her baby will face fewer injuries.

Guidelines for wearing a seat belt

  • Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
  • Buckle the lap strap under your belly and over your hips.
  • Never place the lap belt across your belly.
  • Rest the shoulder belt between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.
  • Never place the shoulder belt under your arm.
  • If possible, adjust the shoulder belt height to fit you correctly.
  • Make sure the seat belt fits snugly.

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these additional tips:

  • Always wear a three-point seat belt and put the lap belt under your belly.
  • Do not turn off air bags, but do move your seat back as far as is comfortable.
  • If you’re not driving, sit in the back seat.
  • If you are in a car crash, seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t feel injured.
  • Call your health provider at once if you have contractions, pain in your belly, or blood or fluid leaking from your vagina.

Remember:  Wear your seatbelt.  It may save your life or protect you and your baby from serious injury if you get in a car accident.

Kathy Frigge, 
Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist 

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