Tips for riding safely in a car while pregnant
Because of a growing baby bump, many women find wearing a seatbelt uncomfortable during pregnancy. Christina Schwering, MD, shared ways to keep you and your baby comfortably safe while traveling.
Although your baby is protected inside your body, you should wear a lap and shoulder belt every time you travel while you are pregnant for the best protection—even in the final weeks of pregnancy. “You and your baby are much more likely to survive a car crash if you are buckled in,” said Dr. Schwering.
When wearing a seat belt, follow these rules:
- Buckle the lap belt below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
- Place the shoulder belt across your chest (between your breasts) and over the mid-portion of your collar bone (away from your neck).
- Never place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
- Pull any slack (looseness) out of the belt.
If you are in an accident, seek medical attention right away, even if you are not injured.
Follow these tips if your car has air bags:
- Keep 10 inches between the steering wheel and your breastbone.
- If the car has an air bag “on/off” switch, check to be sure it is turned to “on.”
- As your belly grows, you may not be able to keep as much space between you and the steering wheel. If the car has a tilt steering wheel, make sure it is angled toward your breastbone, not your belly or head.
Remember, you cannot take your newborn home from the hospital without a car seat. Plan to have the car seat at least three weeks before your due date so you will have time to install it correctly and learn how to buckle the baby in safely suggests Dr. Schwering.
What should you keep in mind when choosing a car seat?
Know whether your car has the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. Instead of seat belts, special anchors hold the seat in place. If your car and car seat do not have the LATCH system, you will need to use seat belts to install the car seat.
Be careful if considering using or purchasing a used car seat. You don’t know the car seat’s history, whether it has been in a car crash or has missing parts. Do not buy a used car seat if you know it has been in a car crash. Avoid a used car seat that looks old or worn or is missing labels with the model number and company’s name. Keep in mind that car seats have expiration dates that you can check on the car seat company’s website.
The safety of you and your baby is of the utmost importance when traveling in a car. Take all safety precautions to keep you both safe and protected.
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