12 mothers were not wearing a seat belt. Of the unrestrained group, 25 percent or (3) fetuses died.
The March of Dimes offers more seat belt and air bag guidelines for pregnant women:
- Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
- Never place the lap belt across your belly.
- Rest the shoulder belt between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.
- Never place the shoulder belt under your arm.
- If possible, adjust the shoulder belt height to fit you correctly.
- Make sure the seat belt fits snugly.
- Driving can be tiring for anyone. Try to limit driving to no more than 5-6 hours per day.
- Never turn off the air bags if your car has them. Instead, tilt your car seat and move it as far as possible from the dashboard or steering wheel.
- If you are in a crash, get treatment right away to protect yourself and your baby.
- Call your health provider at once if you have contractions, pain in your belly, or blood or fluid leaking from your vagina.
Researchers found that first time mothers were the least likely to use a seat belt. Brown noted it's possible that the habit of buckling in children might prompt mothers to put on their own seatbelt.
Mothers-to-be also worry about airbags and whether they could harm the fetus if a crash causes deployment.
In the study, airbags came out in 17 of the accidents, and in those cases the mother was more likely to experience the placenta separating from the uterus - a condition that can be fatal for the mother or the fetus.
Another researcher, not involved in the study, suggested to Reuters Health that the severity of the accidents, and not the airbags, might have been the cause of the serious consequences.
Brown said some women will disarm the airbag for fear that it will damage the baby in case of a crash, but "it's not the smart thing to do because it will save your life if the airbag comes out."
A study, from researchers in Washington State, found that airbags did not increase the risk of most pregnancy-related injuries.
No one likes to think about the damage a car accident can cause, but the reality is that seat belts and air bags save lives. Mothers-to-be, like everyone else, should use theirs when driving or riding in a car. You may need to make some adjustments so that your seat belt fits safely and correctly and the air bag is not right up next to your stomach, but taking those few extra steps could mean the difference between life and death.