During pregnancy, many women wonder if it is a good idea to wear seat belt at all? Here are some points to remember when you are pregnant and wondering about the safety of using seat belts:
1) Yes, it is important that you always wear a seatbelt, when driving or as a passenger, including when you are pregnant. Ideally, you are required by law to wear a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt is a leading cause of car crash death.
2) Wearing a seatbelt during pregnancy will not harm your baby if you wear it the right way. Your body and the amniotic fluid around your baby acts as a cushioning agent and help keep your baby safe. Therefore, best way to protect your growing baby is to protect yourself by wearing a seatbelt.
3) It is always safer for you and your baby to use a three-point restraint which means the seatbelt should have a lap strap and a shoulder strap.
4) The safest and most comfortable way to correctly wear a seatbelt is to:
• Sit back in the seat so that if you are in a car crash your forward movement is reduced and the air bag can inflate correctly.
• Place the lap-belt under your baby as low as possible. It should sit over the upper thighs/pelvis and never wear the belt across or above your belly.
• Position the shoulder strap over your collar bone and snuggly between your breasts. Never wear the shoulder strap under the arm or behind your back. If the shoulder belt cuts across the neck, reposition yourself or the belt so it fits better.
• Make sure the seatbelt lies flat, is not twisted and fits firmly.
• Don’t use a cushion between your body and the seatbelt
5) If you are driving adjust your steering wheel so that it is aimed up and away (at least 25cm) from your abdomen so that if the air bag opens it is directed toward your chest not your baby.
6) When driving, adjust the front seat so it’s as far away as possible from the steering wheel and dashboard but you should be able to reach the pedals comfortably.
7) The risk of injury to you and your baby from an air bag that opens in a car crash is low. Air bags do not replace the need to wear your seatbelt correctly, it supplements your seatbelt. In fact, an air bag can be dangerous if it opens and you’re not securely buckled up.
Remember- you should seek medical advice right away if you are involved in a car crash, even if it’s a minor one and you are feeling fine. It is important to check that both you and your baby are unharmed.
A survey in India in 2017 showed that women drivers skipping the mandatory rule of wearing seatbelts while driving is higher at 81% in comparison to their male counterparts at 68%. This is rather shocking and unfathomable when global studies have shown that, wearing of seatbelts reduces risk of death by 45% and cut risks of serious injury by 50%. Moreover, people not wearing seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be thrown out of a vehicle in a crash.
So, every time you get into the car, whether as a driver or a passenger, front or back seat, any time of pregnancy- remember to buckle up the right way to protect you and your growing baby.
Info source: Queensland clinical Guidelines, Seatbelt and pregnancy,Department of Health, Australia