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Seat Belt Safety and Pregnancy

Updated on May 5, 2012

Seat belts protect mothers & unborn babies

Many women believe that seat belts could hurt an unborn baby, when in fact they protect both the mother and baby.
Many women believe that seat belts could hurt an unborn baby, when in fact they protect both the mother and baby. | Source

Seat belts save lives and should be worn during pregnancy

Let's face it. Wearing a seat belt while pregnant, with your belly expanding on a daily basis may seem difficult and uncomfortable. And some women believe that a seat belt may even injure their unborn baby. This could not be further from the truth.

In fact, wearing your seat belt while pregnant not only protects the mother, but also the baby.

In this article the myth that seat belts can harm the unborn baby will be dispelled, and you will learn the proper way to wear a seat belt when you are pregnant.

The importance of wearing a seat belt while pregnant

The importance of wearing a seat belt whether or not you are pregnant cannot be stressed enough. (See: Why Absolutely Everyone Should Wear a Seat Belt Every Time)

But when pregnant, women justifiably take into consideration the effects of all their actions on their ever-growing unborn baby. Some worry that the safety belt itself could injure their fetus in the event of an auto accident. But nature itself has provided the perfect cocoon of amniotic fluid to guard the fetus from many traumas. However, the impact of your pregnant belly against any other object during a car accident or even a sudden stop can cause fetal death.

University of Michigan Health System study shows that wearing a seat belt while pregnant clearly protects the baby

Seat belt statistics and pregnancy

So, how do you lessen the blow from a collision or sudden stop? Quite simply put, you wear a seat belt 100% of the time. The impact of your unrestrained body can be deadly to you, as well as your baby. According to the seat belt statistics from, each year 170,000 auto accidents involve pregnant women. Sadly, up to 369 fetuses die as a result.

Many women, however, are under the misguided impression that the seat belt itself will cause injury. However, when the seat belt is worn properly, it is very safe and is estimated that 200 fetuses could be saved per year, as stated in the April 2008 American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

How to wear a seatbelt during pregnancy

Seat belts worn correctly and air bags turned on are recommended during pregnancy.
Seat belts worn correctly and air bags turned on are recommended during pregnancy. | Source

The correct way to wear a seat belt while pregnant

Dr. Richard Jones, director of the maternal fetal medicine program at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas explains that pregnant women need to be properly wearing seat belts, and he says that the 3-point harness type of belt found in most cars, is best. (See: And a University of Michigan study (see video above) reported that when pregnant women wear a seat belt regularly, fetal deaths and injuries are reduced by 84%.

What is the proper way to put on a seat belt when pregnant?

  • The shoulder strap (the diagonal one) should be be against the chest and not the neck
  • The shoulder strap should cross between the breasts
  • The lap portion of the belt should be under your abdomen (under the baby bump) and be as low on your hips as possible. (see diagram above)
  • The belt should fit snugly and nothing should obstruct it from retracting freely

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