You Might Be Wearing Your Seatbelt Wrong While Pregnant – Here’s What Experts Suggest

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Pregnancy obviously produces a whole host of physical changes- some uncomfortable, some puzzling, & some just downright bizarre. We’re talking morning sickness, stretch marks, hormones running rampant, & for some poor souls, lightning crotch pain– sharp shooting pains running through your tender lady bits.

Pregnancy is quite a blast, in’it??

While we attempt to educate ourselves on all of the ways we need to adapt to our burgeoning bellies, there’s an obvious one that many of “us” (Me. It’s me. And likely you, too.) may have overlooked.

According to the Road Safety Authority, there is a specific way in which pregnant women should be wearing their car seatbelt, & many of us have probably been doing it wrong.

Who knew??

Buckling up for safety is obviously always important, but apparently the way you buckle up matters during pregnancy.

Despite the fact that you’ve likely automatically clipped your seat belt on thousands of times prior to pregnancy, it turns out that there are some areas to consider before buckling in your baby belly.

The Irish Road Side Authority (RSA) has issued directives on the safest way for pregnant women to wear their seatbelts. And while it may seem obvious, the positioning of the belt DOES matter.

The RSA recommends that pregnant women adhere to these three steps:

Place the diagonal section of the belt across the torso (chest area) with the strap resting over the shoulder, not the neck.

It’s important that the seatbelt not be resting against your neck, which many of us actually do often. Adjusting your car seat’s incline and distance from the steering wheel can also help.

Place the lap section of the belt flat on the thighs, fitting comfortably beneath the baby bump, and over the pelvis (not the bump).

Photo Credit: The Car Seat Lady (thecarseatlady.com)

THIS is the part that gave me pause. I’ve been pregnant six times, & I can honestly say that I’m sure there were many times when the waist portion of my seatbelt was lying horizontally right across my belly rather than my thighs.

The reasoning for securing the seatbelt over the thighs rather than across the belly is that the belt remains on the hip bones rather than vulnerable organs (and baby).

Wear the seatbelt as tightly as possible as in this way, the forces applied in a sudden impact can be absorbed by the body’s frame.

This point may seem like common sense, but it bears repeating- a loose seatbelt may seem more comfortable when you’ve got a big ‘ole belly, but slack in your belt can be extremely dangerous in the event of a car accident.

A 2008 study conducted by Kathleen DeSantis Klinich for the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that:

Proper maternal belt-restraint use (with or without airbag deployment) is associated with acceptable fetal outcome (odds ratio = 4.5, P = .033).

In short, research indicated that fetal outcome was highly dependent on crash severity, maternal injury, and most importantly: these results strongly support recommendations that pregnant women use properly positioned seatbelts.

And how about those seatbelt positioning devices?

Although seatbelt positioning devices are designed to create more space to fit your pregnant belly, they are not actually recommended for optimal safety.

According to the website The Car Seat Lady, seatbelt extenders/positioners are not regulated by specific government standards, which means that they cannot guarantee safety… and in fact, could hinder it.

While clipping a seatbelt may seem like second nature to seasoned drivers, it’s important to take a “pregnant pause” & buckle your baby belly up correctly. We can’t always control what happens to us on the road -especially when involving other drivers- but we can minimize the risks by ensuring that our seatbelt is properly positioned.

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