It may be tricky to buckle up now that you’re pregnant. (Over the belly or under?) You might be thinking of forgoing a seat belt because it seems uncomfortable or because you think it could smush baby, but don’t even think about it. The March of Dimes reports that there are nearly 170,000 car crashes involving pregnant women each year, and according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), research suggests that four out of five babies that were lost in car accidents would’ve been saved if their pregnant mothers had worn safety belts. So you should always wear one — it may save your life or protect you from serious injury if you get in a car accident.
So here’s how to do it most safely — and comfortably! ACOG suggests wearing the lap belt portion low on your hip bones and below your belly. You should put the shoulder belt portion to the side of your belly and across the center of your chest. Make sure the belt fits snugly and don’t place the shoulder belt under your arm. Wearing a safety belt too loosely or too high on your belly can cause broken ribs or other injuries if you’re in a car crash.
And if you’re the driver, you should take a few more precautions too. ACOG recommends limiting driving to no more than five or six hours each day, and if you’re driving for that long, make plenty of stops so you can stretch and relax. Make sure the steering wheel is at least 10 inches from your breastbone. If you can’t create that much space between your bigger belly and the steering wheel, tilt the steering wheel so it’s angled toward your breastbone — that way, if you’re in an accident, your car’s air bag can protect you properly.
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