The slogan, "Seat belts save lives" is embedded deeply in the subconsciousness of many Americans. People generally have gotten better about buckling up than they once were -- thanks to aggressive advertising, safety education and (quite frankly) car features that remind them they should be wearing their safety restraints whenever a car is in motion.
However, a lot of pregnant women struggle with seat belts. Aside from the fact that their changing bodies make buckling up harder than normal, many pregnant women worry that the seat belt will actually prove dangerous to the baby if they do get into an accident.
However, even minor car accidents can pose a serious problem for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. The jolt from a simple fender bender can send an unrestrained mother-to-be forward into the steering wheel or against the dashboard with sufficient force to cause a number of complications, including:
- Rupture of the membrane sac surrounding the baby (which occurs naturally when a woman's "water breaks" during delivery -- but not before)
- Preterm labor (labor prior to 37 weeks of gestation)
- Placental abruption, which can lead to bleeding and death to both the mother and child
- Miscarriage, when the accident happens in the early stages of a pregnancy
The experts all say that wearing a seat belt can save your baby's life -- not just your own. So, if you're pregnant, you need to learn how to buckle up the right way. According to the experts at the March of Dimes, this is what you need to do:
- Use both the shoulder strap and the lap belt at all time. If you're having trouble fitting inside either of these due to your growing belly, there are extension kits that are sold at many auto supply stores that can easily add the inches you need to your existing restraints.
- Place the lap belt under your belly, not over it. It should fit snugly around your hips. That's the number one thing to remember when buckling up while pregnant.
- Guide the shoulder strap so that it lays between your breasts and around your stomach.
If you're in a car accident while you're pregnant, don't agree to any settlement the insurance company pushes at you until after you've had a chance to talk to an attorney. You may not actually know the extent of your injuries until after you deliver.