Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(7):1313

Should I wear a seat belt while I’m pregnant?

Yes, you should always wear a seat belt. Wearing your seat belt protects you and your baby. The most common reason a fetus dies after a car crash is because the mother dies.

Be sure to wear your seat belt correctly. The lap and shoulder belts keep you from being thrown from the car. The shoulder strap also keeps the pressure of your body off of the baby after a crash. You should wear a seat belt no matter where you sit in the car.

How should I wear my seat belt?

The seat belt should be a three-point restraint (that means it should have a lap strap and a shoulder strap). The lap strap should go under your belly, across your hips, and as high as possible on your thighs. The shoulder strap should go between your breasts, and off to the side of your belly. Seat belt straps should never go directly across your belly. The seat belt should fit snugly.

What should I do if I am in a car crash?

You should get treatment right away, even if you think you are not hurt. Most injuries to the baby happen within a few hours after a crash. Your doctor needs to check you and your baby as soon as possible after a crash, especially if you are more than six months pregnant.

What about air bags?

Most experts agree that air bags are safe and can protect the mother from head injury. The air bags in your car should not be turned off because you are pregnant. Airbags are not a substitute for a seat belt, so always wear your seat belt even if your car has air bags.

Where should I sit if I’m a passenger?

If you are not driving, you should sit in the back seat. Injuries from car crashes tend to be less serious to people who are sitting in the back seat. It is still important to wear a seat belt, though. Where a mother sits has not been shown to affect the safety of an unborn baby in a crash.

What danger signs should I watch for after a car crash?

Call your doctor right away if you have pain in your belly, blood or fluid leaking from your vagina, or contractions.

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