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Pregnancy Weeks 33-37 - Page 6

Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter
Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter - Safe Passage

Mother's car safety

Are you wearing your seat belt every time you get in the car? Fear of injury to their unborn baby may make women question the wisdom of using safety belts during pregnancy. They may wonder if the pressure of a safety belt will increase the risk of injury to the baby or cause a miscarriage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is no evidence that safety belts increase the chance of injury to the baby, uterus, or placenta, no matter how severe the collision.

Your body provides many cushions to protect your unborn baby. Bones, muscles, organs, and amniotic fluid surrounding the baby soften the blow. In a crash, the pressure of the safety belt may briefly squeeze the baby in the amniotic sac. However, the main risk to the baby is injury or death of its mother. Mothers who wear safety belts sustain fewer injuries than those who do not, reducing the risk to the baby. Air bags are designed to supplement your seat belts. They are not designed to inflate in side, rear, or rollover crashes. You need both for the best all-around protection.

Here are some important tips on wearing your seat belt while pregnant:

  • Lap belts, as well as the lap portion of a lap-shoulder belt combination, should be placed low, across your hips and over your upper thighs.
  • The belts must lie snugly over the pelvis, one of the stronger bones of your body.
  • Never place the belt over your abdomen.
  • Adjust the shoulder belt for a snug fit. If it cuts across your neck, reposition your car seat for a better fit.

Infant's car safety

All states have laws requiring babies and children to travel in an approved car safety seat. Purchase your baby's car seat now. Choose a seat that you find easy to use and that fits in your vehicle.

Look for a seat you can use as long as possible that faces the rear. Read the labels to check weight limits, as some are made to carry a baby over 20 pounds facing the rear. If you buy an infant-only seat, you will need a convertible seat later. When you purchase a car seat, look for the instructions on proper installation.

Car safety seat guidelines for infants
(From NHTSA)

Use a rear-facing infant only child safety seat:

  • Certified for use from birth up to 20 to 22 pounds (top of baby's head must be below top edge of seat).
  • Use REAR-FACING only.*
  • NEVER place a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat with a front passenger air bag.
  • Some infant-only seats are sold as part of a stroller system.
  • Some have detachable bases that can be left in the vehicle, etc.

*There are some infant seats, used for special needs purposes, which are designed to allow the infant to lie flat.

Properly restrained infant in rear-facing infant only child safety seat:

  • Place harness straps at or below infant's shoulders.
  • Keep harness straps snug.
  • Place chest clip at infant's armpit level to keep harness straps in place.
  • If necessary, place rolled towel around baby's head and neck for support.
  • Do not put heavy clothing or jacket on baby. This prevents harness straps from being snug.
  • Never place any extra cushioning under or behind your baby. This also prevents harness straps from being snug. If additional padding is needed, use only the padding that comes with your child safety seat.
  • Secure infant in seat and then place blanket over infant (do NOT cover infant's head).


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