There's absolutely no doubt that seat belts save lives -- that's why they're required by law. Under the right circumstances, however, seat belts can also end up being the cause of unexpected injuries, particularly among pregnant women.
If you're pregnant, you need to know how to safely wear seat belts and the type of injuries that can occur in a wreck.
What type of injuries do seat belts cause during pregnancy?
Seat belts can generally cause bruising and whiplash-type injuries on anybody. The sheer force of an accident is enough to damage any human body against a restraint.
However, pregnant women face additional risks, including:
- Placental abruption, where the placenta is suddenly torn away from the wall of the mother's uterus, depriving the baby of oxygen and nutrients
- Premature rupture of the water sac that protects the baby
- Early labor, which could cause the baby to be born to early to survive or with health issues
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
It's important to understand that you should still wear your seat belt at all times while you are pregnant. It's still your best chance in an accident of avoiding harm to either yourself or your baby. You just have to know how to wear the seat belt correctly in order to minimize your chances of harm.
How do you properly wear seat belts during pregnancy?
When you're pregnant, take the following steps for seat belt safety:
- Always wear a shoulder harness as well as the lap belt. If you're a passenger in the back seat of a car that doesn't have shoulder straps with the lap belts pre-installed, you can buy an adaptable belt at an auto supply store.
- Put the shoulder strap across your chest and around the side of your stomach.
- Place the lap belt below your stomach, over your hips.
It's important to generally keep your time in a car to a minimum while you're pregnant. Staying out of harm's way is half the battle!
If you are injured in a car accident while you're pregnant, don't hesitate to call your doctor immediately -- even if you don't think you are hurt. A small tear in the placenta or the sac of amniotic fluid can be painless and easily overlooked in the early stages.
Source: FindLaw, "Car Accident Seat Belt Injuries," accessed June 14, 2018