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Chapter 1. Can a deployed airbag harm my unborn child?
What is an airbag and how does it work?
To start, let’s define exactly what an airbag is. An airbag is of course, a car safety device found in most modern cars. If working correctly, it will inflate upon an impact, with the aim to provide a softening and protective cushion between the occupant and the steering wheel or dash and windscreen.
As effective as they are in saving lives and reducing injuries, airbags have also been known to cause facial and chest injuries, in the process of saving your life. Because of this and the fact that with a new body shape, many pregnant women may wonder if they are safe, particularly in the case of a light collision resulting in an airbag deployment. The short answer is, you shouldn’t be worried. This is mainly due to the fact that it is far more likely that an airbag is saving you from serious harm, rather than potentially causing harm. If you’re in a collision strong enough to deploy the airbags, you’re going to be glad they deployed in the first place.
The main thing is to be correctly wearing your seatbelt.
“Make sure the lap belt secured below your bump and across your hips. It should lie snugly over your pelvis. Always use the shoulder belt, too. It should fit snugly over your bump and between your breasts. If it cuts across your neck, try repositioning your seat so the belt fits better. Never wear the belt across your belly – during a crash, the sudden jolt could cause the placenta to separate from your uterus.” // babycenter.com.au
If you are very concerned, you can potentially minimise the risk of injury by ensuring your seat is far back from the wheel (within safe operating reason, of course) and slightly tilted back.
“A gap of at least 25cm to the seat in front or steering wheel is best. This will create a safe distance between your chest and the steering wheel.” // babycenter.com.au
Tilting the wheel so that it is pointed toward your chest rather than your head or belly is another good idea, and sit back in the seat as much as possible. If you don’t have to drive, rather than sitting in the passenger seat, sit in the back seats, as it’s known to be the safest place to be in the unfortunate event of a collision.
So in a nutshell, you will be much safer with the airbag than without. A University of Washington study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that airbags were safe for pregnant women. In saying that, as you near the end of your pregnancy, if you can avoid being the driver of a car, take a back seat – literally!