According to research, the best way for a pregnant woman to safeguard her unborn child is to first protect herself. Car crashes kill thousands of people in the U.S. each year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found wearing a seat belt reduces chance of injury and death by 50%. While a car accident can cause injury to a pregnant woman and her unborn child, it is far safer to wear a seat belt while pregnant than not.
A study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System found 62% of accidents that result in serious health consequences to the unborn baby are caused because the mother did not wear her seat belt. Another study, conducted by Dr. Mark Pearlman, found that 80% of women who did not wear a seat belt either lost their unborn child, or the baby suffered serious complications. Pregnant women who wore their seat belt incorrectly saw 50% loss or injury to the unborn baby, whereas only 29% of women who wore their seat belt correctly suffered loss or serious injury to the baby.
While wearing a seat belt is definitely a safer option, for both the mother-to-be and her child, seat belts can still be dangerous if not worn properly. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests pregnant women wear their seat belt securely around the belly. The shoulder strap should fit between the breasts and to the side of the belly, while the lap strip should go under the belly, across the hips. There are also other devices available that divert the pressure of the belt away from the belly, and onto the legs, or up to the chest. Always discuss these alternative options with your doctor to decide if they are right for you and your baby.
Also, be sure your belly is a safe distance from the steering wheel. Driving safety regulations suggest all drivers sit with their chest 10 inches from the steering wheel, however, you may need more space as your belly grows.
In the event of an accident, it is always best to seek medical help to ensure the safety of you and your baby, especially if you are more than 6 months pregnant. Warning signs include belly pain, contractions, painful urination, dizziness, severe headache, change in the baby’s movement, or blood or fluid discharge from the vagina. However, even if you do not experience these symptoms, you should still see your doctor immediately.
For a free case review regarding your car accident and pregnancy injury, or loss of your unborn child, contact The Kelleher Firm.