Seat Belt Use During Pregnancy
Protecting yourself protects your baby in a car crash
- Always use your seat belt. A lap-shoulder belt gives much more protection than a lap belt alone. An air bag will help, too. The biggest danger to an unborn baby in a crash is the mother’s injury.
- If you are in a crash, even a minor one, get checked at a hospital emergency room. Your unborn baby could be seriously injured even if you do not seem to be hurt.
- Use the safety belt correctly. Push the lap belt down as far as possible below your belly. Check to make sure it stays low. Both lap and shoulder belts should be snug. If you are wearing a heavy coat, open it and pull it to both sides, away from your belly. This helps the lap part of the belt fit correctly.
- Sit as far back from the steering wheel as possible. Hitting the steering wheel in a crash can cause injury. Tilt it toward your chest.
- Let others do the driving as much as possible during the last few months of pregnancy. Avoid unnecessary trips. When you ride in the car, sit in the back seat if you can use a lap-shoulder belt there.
Choosing a car seat for your baby
- Never carry a baby in your arms. It is impossible to hold onto a baby in a crash. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are two years of age or until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their seat.
- Try the car seat in your vehicle before buying it. Make sure it can be installed tightly in the back seat using the seat belt or LATCH attachments.
- Beware of second-hand car seats; they often have safety problems, missing parts, no instructions. If the car seat has been used in a crash, it should not be used again.
To learn more about car safety for babies
National Auto Safety Hotline: Basic information and reporting defects: www.nhtsa.gov • 888-DASH-2-DOT (327-4236) • 800-424-9153 (TTY)
- SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. Helpline: Answers to specific questions, www.carseat.org • 800-745-SAFE (7233)
- Finding a local car seat inspection station, checking for recalls: www.nhtsa.gov or www.seatcheck.org • 866-SEAT-CHECK
- American Academy of Pediatrics