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How should I wear my seat belt when pregnant?

December 6, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Learn the proper way to adjust your seat belt to accommodate your pregnancy’s growing belly and how to protect you and your unborn child in case of a car accident


I received a question the other day from a friend of mine who’s pregnant.  It’s about a concern that effects so many, but one we don’t hear much about.  She wanted to know how to wear her seat belt to accommodate her growing belly.
This is a great safety question.  The concern is staying protected by your seat belt, yet also keeping your little one from being harmed by the seatbelt in case you are involved in a car accident.  As an auto accident attorney who writes often about safety and car seats, I thought it was a great question and to share my answer for other expectant mothers and family members who may be wondering.

To start, everyone, including pregnant women, should wear their seat belts when riding in a motor vehicle. The seat belts are designed to be worn by women who are pregnant (even if many women don’t feel the same way).  When used properly, seat belts unequivocally help save lives and can lower the changes of you suffering a serious injury from a car accident.

But when you’re pregnant, there are a few modifications you can also make while wearing the seat belt, according to the March of Dimes, “Seatbelts during pregnancy”:

  • Always wear both the lap belt and the shoulder strap. Make sure they both fit you snugly.
  • Buckle the lap belt under your belly and over your hips. Remember to never place the lap belt across your belly.
  • Put the shoulder strap between your breasts and off to the side of your belly. Remember to never place the shoulder strap under your arm.

Here’s a safety video that demonstrates the correct method on how to wear your seat belt while pregnant:


How a car accident can affect your pregnancy

Depending on how badly you’re injured, being in a serious car accident can increase your risk for serious complications during pregnancy, such as preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, placental abruption, and even miscarriage or still birth.  As an injury attorney, these have been some of the hardest cases I have litigated because they are so painful and emotional.  Unlike a physical injury that resolves and heals, the pain from losing a child lingers on for years.

No expectant mother wants to hear this – or have one more thing to worry about as they’re preparing for birth.

The good news is, wearing your seat belt correctly when expecting can help protect both you and your baby from injury. Please, wear your seat belt all throughout your pregnancy any time you ride in a car.

Related info:

Does being pregnant increase your risk of a car crash?

Preventing seat belt entanglement

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