How to wear a seatbelt when you're pregnant
Driving with a baby bump can be awkward. We take a look at how mums-to-be can remain comfortable behind the wheel.
It goes without saying that when you're in a car you must wear your seatbelt.
But a bug bear of many expectant mothers is how uncomfortable it can be to drive.
We take a look at ways you can remain relaxed and comfortable on your daily drives whilst pregnant.
Driving while pregnant
"Pregnancy affects women in very different ways," says registered midwife Denise Linay.
"Some breeze through it, have no difficulties and are comfortable driving until the day they deliver.
"But others face problems such as severe morning sickness, which means it's not safe for them to drive at certain times.
"It's best for them to adapt as they go along and take advice from their midwife on any specific health concerns."
Baby bump and seatbelt
One aspect of pregnancy that's going to affect all expectant mothers is developing a baby bump.
This means the seatbelt will have to be positioned differently as incorrect use can harm the baby in the event of a collision.
"The key advice is 'belt under the bump, not across the middle'," says Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
"The belt should be placed flat across the thighs and tight up against the hip bones with the cross belt between the breasts."
Clunk click every trip
Wearing a seatbelt is required by law which doesn’t change when you’re pregnant.
Greig says that expectant mothers should resist the temptation to drive without wearing a seatbelt.
"In an accident, a person is far more likely to die by being ejected from a vehicle or hitting the inside of the car, than be injured by the belt itself," Greig explains.
The UK government road safety campaign has produced a free, downloadable leaflet, entitled Buckle up for baby and you.
It has illustrations of the correct way that the seatbelt should be worn during pregnancy.
Specially adapted seatbelts for pregnant women
It’s possible to buy seatbelts specifically adapted for use by pregnant women.
There are pregnancy seat belts you can buy which essentially extend it to fit comfortably around your bump.
However, midwife Linay believes that most women will be fine using the regular seatbelt.
She says: "Pregnancy and having a new baby can be an expensive time, and there's no need to spend extra money on extra items that you might not get much use out of."
Morning sickness and driving
Some mums-to-be suffer with morning sickness, but during the parts of the day when the expectant mother feels fine there is no reason why she shouldn’t drive.
However, it's important not to do so when in the grip of nausea, or when the expectant mother has reason to believe she'll feel unwell during the journey.
"If anything is going to be distracting then it's best not to get behind the wheel," says Linay.
"I know that this can be very difficult, especially for women who need to get to work or have other children to take to school, but safety always has to take priority."
Driving tips for pregnant women
As the mum-to-be gets bigger she might want to move the car seat back and that’s fine as long as the mirrors are adjusted accordingly and she can still reach the pedals.
"The vast majority of women remain flexible enough to turn in their seat to do manoeuvres and can climb in and out of the car without difficulty," says Greig.
"But if it does start to be a struggle then it's advisable to stop driving."
Swollen ankles and leg cramps can be additional symptoms of pregnancy, and if they cause discomfort when driving then it's best to confine motoring to short trips or stop altogether.
First published on the 19th of March 2013