Driving With a Due Date

For a safe ride, a mom-to-be should place her seat belt under her baby bump in the car.

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As your baby bump grows and grows with your pregnancy, we're sure this question is going to cross your mind: Should I continue wearing my seat belt. In short: Yes, always!

An estimated 800 fetuses die each year in the United States when their mothers are involved in vehicle accidents, according to federal statistics. That's eight times as many babies and children up to age 4 who are killed in crashes.

The biggest danger occurs when the steering wheel strikes a pregnant woman's abdomen, causing the placenta to detach, says Stefan Duma, Ph.D., head of the biomedical engineering department at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburgh, Va.

Here are three ways to protect your baby-to-be, from Duma and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Move your seat as far as possible. You should maintain at least a 10-inch distance between the center of your chest and the steering wheel. If you're short, talk to your car dealer about installing a pedal extender.

Wear your seat belt correctly. The shoulder belt should lie between your breasts and away from your neck. Secure the lap belt below your belly, across your hips and pelvic bone.

Don't turn off your airbag. Your airbag is more likely to protect, rather than hurt, both you and your baby in an accident.