Traveling for Two: Advice for Pregnant Vacationers
Seat Belts and Air Bags Can Save Your Fetus' Life
Approximately 2% of car crashes involving a pregnant woman --
or about 2,500 accidents -- will result in an adverse outcome for the
pregnancy, he says, so "regardless of the severity of the traffic accident,
pregnant mothers involved in a crash should be seen by a doctor right
Pearlman tells WebMD that years of specialized research looking
at how traffic fatalities occur among pregnant travelers has shown that what is
true for the general population is true for mom and her fetus: Seat belts and
air bags work.
"Seat belts are protective not only for the mother but also
separately for the fetus," he tells WebMD. "When we looked at crashes
of similar speed and similar injury to the mom, proper use of seat belts
separately protected the fetus. If you had two moms in similar crashes, the one
who was wearing the seat belt would be more likely to have a good fetal
The same goes for air bags. "It appears that when women are
in a car crash in which an air bag deploys, it does not result in an increase
in fetal injury and may add an additional protection," Pearlman tells
Since most air bags are housed in the steering wheel, Pearlman
advises pregnant women behind the wheel to adjust the wheel so that it is aimed
at the chest. "That is where the air bag will function best, and it won't
deploy right over the abdomen," he says.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, or ACOG,
cautions that seat belts worn too loosely or too high on the abdomen can cause
broken ribs or injury to the abdomen. The lap belt should be placed under the
abdomen and across the upper thighs so that it fits as snugly and comfortably
as possible, ACOG recommends.
The shoulder belt should be placed between the breasts and
across the shoulder. Never slip the shoulder belt off your shoulders, the group
The organization also offers the following general
recommendations to pregnant women traveling by car or plane:
- Wear comfortable shoes, support stockings, and clothing that doesn't bind.
Choose natural fabrics like cotton or wool that absorb sweat.
- Take some crackers, juice or other light snacks to prevent nausea.
- Do not take motion-sickness pills or laxatives without consulting with a
ACOG also offers the following specific recommendations for
- Try to get an aisle seat so that you can walk around and get to the
bathroom easily. The front of the plane often has a smoother ride. A seat just
behind the wall that divides first class and coach has extra leg room.
- The cabin can be both hot and cold even on a short flight. Wear a few
layers of light clothing that will allow you to bundle up or remove a layer or
- Eat lightly to avoid being sick. Because the air in the cabin is dry, drink
plenty of fluids.