The importance of wearing a seatbelt correctly when pregnant has been highlighted by Britain's Royal College of Midwives (RCM), after a survey revealed nearly half of women expecting a baby didn't know this.
Research commissioned by U.K. child safety group Clippasafe of 500 mums found that 45.9 percent didn't know the correct way to wear a seatbelt. It also found that almost a fifth (19.4 percent) said they sometimes chose not to wear a seatbelt at all during pregnancy because of the discomfort.
And when asked whether they found it uncomfortable to wear a seatbelt during pregnancy, 80.49 percent of the women either answered "often" or "sometimes".
"The results of this research have been combined with findings from a similar study in 2014, and the RCM welcomes the role of this type of research in highlighting the importance of wearing a seatbelt correctly in pregnancy," said Mervi Jokinen, professional advisor at the RCM.
Jokinen continued: "NHS Choices advises women to wear their seatbelt with the cross strap between their breasts and the lap strap across their pelvis under their bump, not across bump — and the RCM supports this advice.
"If in any doubt about this, women should speak to their midwife who will be able to offer further advice and support."
Foetal injury or miscarriage are common when pregnant women are involved in even minor vehicle collisions. Dr Karen Joash, a consultant obstetrician who works with patients at the U.K.'s Imperial College NHS Trust explained the dangers of incorrectly positioned seatbelts during pregnancy: "It can lead to a deceleration injury where the strap has contact," she said. "This is similar to being struck across the bump with extreme force and pressure. Major injuries can lead to the waters breaking too early.
"It can also result in placental injuries leading to bleeding and early placental separation, reducing the oxygen supply and in extreme cases, unfortunately the death of the unborn baby."
Dr Joash also advised expectant mothers to take seatbelt-wear seriously, and said that keeping it in the right position will not only reduce the danger to unborn babies, but will also make it more comfortable.