It is an extremely dangerous misconception that pregnant women should not wear seat belts. However, the fear that a safety belt can press on the uterus and harm the baby in the event of a car accident has some truth. How does a mother protect herself and her child while driving in Georgia with these two conflicting issues? She must use the seat belt properly during pregnancy. Here’s how to wear a seat belt while pregnant to best prevent injury to yourself and your unborn baby.
Always Wear a Seat belt
First, always wear a seat belt while in a vehicle during all stages of your pregnancy. No matter how short the drive is, put your seat belt on. Seat belts help prevent serious injuries during the human collision in a crash. The human collision is the one between your body and an element inside or outside of the vehicle that halts your forward motion. When the human collision occurs between you and your seat belt (when worn correctly), you minimize your odds of a serious injury.
Without your seat belt, your body can collide with the steering wheel, the windshield, a window, or the road if the crash ejects you from the vehicle. This could kill you and your unborn baby. There is no excuse not to wear a safety belt while driving or riding in a car. It does not matter if you’re a good driver, if you have airbags, or if the seat belt is uncomfortable during pregnancy. It’s not only against the law in Georgia to not wear your belt, but you’re also endangering your life and that of your child. Always wear your seat belt!
Place the Lap Belt at the Top of the Thighs
Pregnant women should not wear their seat belts any differently than other drivers and passengers. The lap part of the belt should lie flat on the tops of the thighs – not the abdomen. Crossing the belt over your abdomen while pregnant could cause pressure on the uterus, crushing and damaging the vulnerable organs in your body as well as those of the fetus. Reduce your risk of internal injuries and damage to the placenta by moving the belt down over your thighs, not around your belly.
Put the Belt Across Your Chest and Around Your Belly
Pregnant women will also wear the top strap of the seat belt the same way as non-pregnant women. Wear the shoulder harness across your shoulder and chest with minimal to no slack. Do not wear the top of the belt behind your back or under your arm. Sit upright with your back against the seat and the feet on the ground. The shoulder harness should not cross over your belly. Instead, it should cross to the left or right of the belly, depending on your position in the vehicle. Point the steering wheel up and away from the belly as much as possible.
Don’t Allow Any Slack in the Belt
Your safety belt should fit snugly across your thighs and chest, with little to no slack. Remove thick clothing, such as winter coats, while in the car to make sure the belt is tight enough. Slack in the belt can make it ineffective in a collision. Do not use safety belt positioning devices for pregnant women. Devices promising to make seat belts more comfortable while pregnant do not have any federal safety approvals. Do not use anything that puts your belt in a different position or produces slack in the belt, as these could increase your risk of injury.
For other general seat belt safety myths, click here.