How do I wear a seatbelt safely when I’m pregnant?

Seatbelts are a legal requirement and essential at any time - even more so in pregnancy. But where exactly should you put the seatbelt when you're pregnant?

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In a nutshell: Advice to MadeForMums from Nick Lloyd, Road Safety Manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), and confirmed by the NHS, is that pregnant women should wear a 3-point lap and shoulder safety belt, with the belt positioned below the bump, touching the thighs, low and snug on the hip bones.

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Nick adds that it’s also a good idea to move the seat away from the steering wheel, while still maintaining control of the vehicle.

In addition he advises that you should never use any pregnancy accessories as these may affect the seatbelt working in the event of a crash.

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New study shows 50% of pregnant women aren’t wearing their seatbelts correctly

We thought it was important to give a reminder on how to position a seatbelt safely when we read about a recent UK study from Clippasafe, shared in Nursery Today, which revealed that almost 50% of women didn’t know how to position a seatbelt when pregnant, and 20% of women admitted to not wearing a seatbelt at all when pregnant.

Why the position of your seatbelt when you’re pregnant is so important

As Dr Karen Joash from Imperial College NHS Trust explains that, if you’re in a car accident when pregnant (which hopefully you won’t be), wearing a seatbelt over you bump “can lead to a deceleration injury where the strap has contact.” This is similar to being struck across the bump with extreme force and pressure.

“Major injuries can lead to the waters breaking too early…and placental injuries,” she adds. In some cases these can very seriously affect the health of your unborn baby.

Though Dr Joash points out that it is still vital for pregnant women to wear their seatbelts – but that they need to do so in the right way.

“Minor road traffic accidents are not uncommon…a seatbelt should be worn at all times,” she confirms, “but mums-to-be must find other ways to wear the seatbelt more comfortably and not across the bump.”

And Roger Cheetham, Managing Director of Clippasafe, says pregnant women definitely shouldn’t be put off from wearing a seatbelt because of the injuries it can cause. There just needs to be more awareness of where to place a seatbelt when you’re pregnant.

“Seatbelts are not inherently dangerous during pregnancy as long as they are worn correctly,” he says. He’s in agreement with RoSPA that they must be kept below the bump so that any shock from a collision can be absorbed by the hips.

How to keep your seatbelt in a safe position when you’re pregnant

There are products that can help to keep your belt below the bump – like these Clippasafe Bump Belts.

And no – it hasn’t escaped us that this study was commissioned by a company that produces a solution for keeping your seatbelt under your bump. 

But their advice about how to wear a seatbelt does concur with what the NHS says. Plus, we have evidence that  pregnant women are disproportionately at risk of being involved in car accidents. 

For example, a study carried out in Canada in 2014 showed that female drivers in their second trimester were 42% more likely than other female drivers to be involved in a multi-vehicle collision – possibly due to cognitive lapses, fatigue, nausea and sleep deprivation.

if you’re not keen on buying anything extra, it’s worth simply taking time to ensure your seatbelt’s positioned below your bump before you drive, and if you can, try and remember to check it ever now and then on your journey.

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