Seatbelts during pregnancy
Experts agree that everyone, including pregnant women, should wear a seat belt when riding in a car. When used properly, seat belts save lives and lower the chances of severe injury during car crashes.
Depending on how severe the car accident is, pregnant women could be at risk for miscarriage, preterm labor and other serious complications. In fact, the more injuries a mother has during a car accident, the greater the risk to her unborn baby. If the pregnant woman is wearing her seat belt properly at the time of the accident, she and her baby will face fewer injuries.
There are nearly 170,000 car crashes involving pregnant women every year. So it's important for moms in all stages of pregnancy to properly wear seat belts at all times when traveling in a car.
How should you wear your seatbelt?
- Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
- Buckle the lap strap under your belly and over your hips.
- 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.
What other ways can you keep safe when driving?
- 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.
Last reviewed June 2008
Most common questions
Is air travel safe during pregnancy?
If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s usually safe to travel by plane. Follow these tips when traveling by air:
- Ask your airline if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy. You can fly on most airlines up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. But if you’re flying out of the country, the cut-off time may be earlier.
- If you’ve had morning sickness during pregnancy, ask your provider if you can take medicine to help with nausea.
- Book an aisle seat so you don't have to climb over other passengers when you need to get up to use the restroom or walk around. Try sitting towards the front of the plane where the ride feels smoother.
- Drink plenty of water. Don’t drink carbonated drinks, such as soda. And don’t eat foods, such as beans, that may cause gas.Gas in your belly can expand at high altitudes and make you feel uncomfortable.
- Fasten your seat belt when you’re in your seat. This can help keep you from getting hurt in case of turbulence. Turbulence happens when the air around a flying plane causes a bumpy ride.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Flex your ankles during the flight, and take a walk when it's safe to leave your seat. Doing these things can help your blood flow and lower your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot inside a vein. Sitting for long stretches of time during any kind of travel raises your chances of having DVT. Ask your health care provider if you should wear support stockings during your flight. They may help prevent DVT. But if you have diabetes or problems with blood circulation, you probably shouldn’t wear them.
- Tell the flight attendant if you feel sick or very uncomfortable during your flight. Contact your health care provider as soon as you can.
Is it safe to get or have a tattoo during pregnancy?
It's best to wait until after having your baby to get one. Here's why: Hepatitis B, a dangerous liver infection, and HIV/AIDS are two of many diseases that can be passed along through bodily fluids. This means you can catch these diseases if you get a tattoo from someone who uses a dirty needle. And you can pass these diseases along to your baby during pregnancy.
We don't know how tattoo dyes and inks affect a developing baby. Small amounts of chemicals that might be harmless to an adult can have a much bigger impact on a growing baby.
Most healthcare providers will give an epidural to a woman with a tattoo on her lower back. But they may decide not to if the tattoo is recent and fresh. If you have a tattoo on your back and are considering getting an epidural for pain relief during childbirth, find out what the hospital's policy is before you're admitted.
Is it safe to get spa treatments during pregnancy?
Some spa treatments are safe. Others may be more painful than usual. And some - like mud baths - are a bad idea while you're pregnant.
Any spa treatments that raise your body temperature (like mud baths, hot wax and seaweed wraps) are almost always unsafe during pregnancy. Steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas also raise your body temperature. They can make you dehydrated and overheated. This can be dangerous for you and your baby. Avoid these treatments while you're pregnant.
Be careful with skin treatments like facials and body scrubs. During pregnancy, your skin changes a lot and may be extra sensitive. Before you cover your whole body with a product, test it on a small area of skin to be sure it doesn't irritate.
Getting your eyebrows done and having your bikini line waxed are usually safe during pregnancy, but they may feel more painful to your sensitive skin.