The Safest Way to Wear a Seatbelt When Pregnant

Christie Haskell
16

I spend a lot of time talking about car seat safety, but not as much discussing seatbelt safety for us -- the adults. I don't know about you, but my seatbelt doesn't fit me nearly as well as it does my kids. Frankly, I probably need a booster seat because of my height. But one thing I was especially concerned about when I was pregnant was how the seatbelt fit over me and my belly. I had precious cargo inside me -- it's too important to get wrong.

I rounded up some good tips, but also some common misnomers as well.

There things that need to happen when you use a shoulder-and-lap belt -- you need to have the shoulder belt across your chest, between your breasts, and then across your collar bone. Not your shoulder and definitely not across your neck.

You also need to have the lap portion as low as it can go, ideally sitting more on your thighs/hips than the abdomen. Here I wince, because like MANY women, despite moving my seat around and putting the shoulder belt on the lowest setting, I still have it come up on my gut and try to slide up on my neck -- my torso is short, what can I say?

Volvo, who has created their own pregnant dummy named Linda, says that the biggest risk is the lap portion of the belt sliding up, then smashing the belly and causing the placenta to detach from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption). Eek. So your biggest concern is keeping the lap portion as low as possible, never up on your belly. Pulling out some of the slack of the lap portion can help it stay put down low. Some products exist to keep the belt low, but their safety is questionable and could make the belt malfunction.

Also, as your belly gets bigger, adjust your seat accordingly. Get as much distance between your belly and your steering wheel (which you can tilt up) as you can, while still being able to drive safely.

Some people believe that driving without the seatbelt or turning off the airbag is safer. Let's me clear: IT IS NOT SAFER. It is much more dangerous. Instead of a belt catching you on your chest and hips, your belly could smash into something, or you could even fly out of your car entirely. An airbag is better to crash into than the metal of the car. Buckle up and keep that airbag ON.

Some women find towards the end, the belt doesn't fit around them. Sadly, the only recommendation is to avoid the car at all costs.

Do you find the seatbelt uncomfortable during pregnancy?

 

Images via Volvo

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