Seatbelts and pregnancy: how to buckle up safely
If you're pregnant and involved in a car accident you can reduce the risk of foetal injury significantly if you are wearing your seatbelt correctly.
Global chairperson of the International Organisation for Standardisation
Lotta Jakobsson says the most common potential injury risks for unborn babies in car crashes are separated placenta (most documented), leading to Foetal distress and early delivery, leading to breathing and nervous system disorders.
We ask Lotta for her tips on seatbelt safety while pregnant.
Why is it important to wear your seatbelt correctly if pregnant?
The seatbelt is the primary safety system, protecting you in any crash situation. Using the seat belt is essential for everyone riding in the car, even when pregnant.
What are the risks to the unborn baby in an accident?
The highest risk for the unborn baby is if you are injured. So, the highest priority is to make sure that you are protected optimally. As for everyone, it is essential that the lap portion of the seat belt lies over the thighs, below the belly, and the shoulder portion of the belt across the shoulder.
If unrestrained, the crash will cause high forces, and potentially injuries, when impacting the steering wheel or the car interior. Also, if the belt lies across the belly, direct forces to the belly can injure the unborn baby, so always make sure that the belt stays under the belly, over the thighs.
What is the most common way to wear seatbelts incorrectly?
The most common mistake is that they forget to adjust the belt position. Make sure to always adjust the position of the belt.
Tips to prevent seatbelt injuries to mums and unborn babies
- Remove bulky clothes so that the safety belt can be placed as close to the body as possible.
- Pull the lap belt over the thighs, lying flat under the belly.
- Make sure the torso belt is positioned between the breasts.
- Pull tight.
- First adjust the seat so you can reach the pedals comfortably with as much distance between your belly and the steering wheel as possible.
- Pull the lap belt over your thighs, buckle it in and pull tight. Make sure the lap belt does not run across the belly, but lies as flat as possible under the curve.
- Position the torso belt across your chest, between the breasts to the side of the belly and pull tight.
- Never tuck the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back - that can hurt both you and the baby.