Pregnancy and Seat Belts: Buckling Up is Still the Best Option
For years now, women have voiced their concern over the possibly harmful results of wearing a seat belt while pregnant. Seat belts are designed to prevent injury in a crash, providing restriction and added protection should the car and passengers be jolted. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that wearing a seat belt can reduce the chance of injury or death by roughly half. However, the issue is a bit trickier for pregnant women, who have a new developing form to allow for the growth of a child. Many worry that the pressure of the belt can constrict and harm the developing baby within, doing more harm than good. Despite this concern, research shows wearing a seat belt while pregnant is far safer than choosing not to, and here’s why.
What Are the Facts?
As a general rule, when determining what safety procedures to follow as a pregnant woman, its best to think along the lines of: what is best for the mother is best for the child. In fact, 62% of car accidents that resulted in serious injury to the unborn baby were caused because the mother did not wear her seat belt, according to a study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System.
Another study, this conducted by Dr. Mark Pearlman, discovered that the vast majority of pregnant women who did not buckle up, 80%, either lost their baby or the baby faced serious health complications. Additionally, Pearlman’s study revealed that 50% of women who wore their seat belt incorrectly either suffered loss or injury to their unborn child, whereas the women who wore their seat belts correctly only suffered loss or injury to the baby 29% of the time. In short, wearing a seat belt proves far safer for both the unborn child and the mother, and can significantly reduce the chance of injury to the baby.
How to Safely Wear a Seat Belt While Pregnant
While it is safer to wear your seat belt while pregnant, the belt must be worn properly to be effective. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pregnant women should wear their seat belts around their bellies, rather than over them. More specifically, the shoulder strap should rest across the chest, between the breasts, while the lap belt should go across the hips and under the belly.
There are also devices that could make standard vehicle seat belts more accommodating for pregnant women, adding comfort and improving safety. Bearing various designs, each of these devices is engineered to divert pressure away from the belly, safely transferring it to the mother’s legs or chest. This way, should a pregnant woman be involved in a car accident, the seat belt will not directly apply pressure to the unborn child. Before using one of these devices, always consult your doctor.
For pregnant women who are driving, keeping a safe distance from the wheel can also prevent unnecessary harm. The standard rule of thumb states that drivers should sit with their chest at least 10 inches from the steering wheel. Pregnant women should keep at least his much distance, if not more, depending on the size of their belly.
Should you be in an accident while pregnant, always seek medical attention immediately. Even if you feel perfectly fine, your baby could have been harmed in a way you didn’t feel, or you could be in shock, which can sometimes mask any symptoms of injury. To be safe, see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any possible harm.
For legal help following an accident, contact Sanders.Law for a free consultation!