Yes. Due to the risk of car accidents, doctors recommend seatbelts for pregnant drivers and passengers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
“Buckling up through all stages of your pregnancy is the single most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your unborn child in a crash.”
What’s the Right Way to Wear My Seatbelt While Pregnant?
Buckle the lap belt under your belly and over your hips and place your shoulder strap between your breasts and to the side of your belly. Never place the lap belt over your belly or the shoulder strap under your arm.
Adjust your seat to minimize the gap between your shoulder and the seatbelt and remove any slack from the seatbelt. Make sure you are upright and comfortable and keep as much distance as possible between your belly and the steering wheel. If you can, always keep at least 10 inches of space between your breastbone and the steering wheel and point the steering wheel at your breastbone instead of your belly.
Should I Leave My Airbag On?
Yes, but having airbags is not a replacement for wearing your seatbelt properly. Airbags and seatbelts work together to protect you and your unborn child, and doctors recommend that pregnant women wear seatbelts and leave their airbags on whenever they drive or ride in a car.
Safety Tips for Driving While Pregnant
Do not drive if you feel extra tired, nauseated, or dizzy. If these symptoms come on while you are behind the wheel, pull over safely and rest or walk around until you feel better. Keep snacks and water with you to stay hydrated and minimize nausea (morning sickness is always worse on an empty stomach).
Remember that you may feel different than normal during pregnancy and have less focus and mental clarity than you normally would. Avoid driving if you feel “foggy” and try to minimize distractions behind the wheel. NEVER use your cell phone while driving and avoid driving in bad weather or heavy traffic.
Try to limit your driving to 5 or 6 hours per day and plan frequent breaks. Even for shorter drives, give yourself 10 to 15 extra minutes for unexpected bathroom breaks – and so you don’t feel rushed and pressured to speed while getting to your destination.
If your belly grows too large to allow you to turn comfortably, reach the pedals, or drive safely, take a break from driving. Let others drive you until the baby is born and ride in the back seat for extra protection.
The less time you spend in cars, the less likely you are to be in a car accident, so you may even want to adjust your lifestyle if possible. For example, many pregnant women eliminate their everyday commutes by choosing to work from home.
What Should I Do If I am Involved in a Crash?
If you are involved in a crash as either a driver or a passenger, seek immediate medical attention even if you think you are not injured.
For more information on what to do after an accident, read our blog, “What Happens If You Get into a Car Crash While Pregnant?”
Unfortunately, car accidents are a leading cause of fetal injury and death and maternal injury morbidity and mortality. If you or your unborn child gets hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can help you navigate the aftermath.
We have over 100 years of combined experience and offer personalized, attentive service for injured and grieving mothers and families.
Let us fight for you – call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to discuss the next steps during a free consultation.