Driving with a baby on board

14 July 2019 | Motors

Your journey to parenthood is an exciting time that requires much preparation, and also includes staying safe on the road. During pregnancy, mothers-to-be need to continuously make in-vehicle adjustments to ensure optimal positioning and safety while driving.

To help engineers better understand the needs of expectant mothers, Ford Motor Company designed an “empathy belly” – or pregnancy suit. This pregnancy suit adds an extra 13.6 kg of weight (the average weight gained during pregnancy) and simulates the bulkiness and discomfort experienced in the third trimester of pregnancy, which assists engineers design vehicles that enable expectant mothers and a broad range of drivers, to make necessary adjustments that support safe driving.

Based on the insights gained from wearing the empathy belly, the following top tips from Ford have been developed to further assist you on your journey to motherhood.

• Seat belt safety

First remove coats or any bulky clothing to ensure a snug fit. Pull the seat belt over your shoulder, between the breasts and to the side of your belly. The lap portion of the belt should be located at your hip and below, not across your abdomen. Make sure the belt lies as flat as possible under the curve of your belly. Never put the shoulder belt behind you or under your arm, as this can cause serious injury in the event of an accident.

• Make proper vehicle adjustments

Move your seat back to a comfortable distance from the pedals, ideally sitting about 25 cm away from the steering wheel. This will protect your abdomen if the airbag deploys in an accident. If your car's steering wheel is adjustable, point the centre of the steering wheel away from your belly and towards your chest. After changing your seat position, be sure to adjust your rear view and outside mirrors. Should you suffer from backache, place a small round pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back to improve comfort while driving.

• From snack attacks…to nausea

Food cravings and “morning” sickness, can happen at any time of day. Be sure to pack plenty of water and your favourite snacks to satisfy those cravings. Keep extra “nausea bags” in your handbag and glove compartment. Pull over to a safe place when hunger or sickness strikes, avoiding being distracted while driving.

• Have a rest…or avoid driving

The “pregnant brain” endures more strain than usual, so it's best to plan and map out your trips in advance. If possible, avoid driving long distances and take frequent breaks to promote blood circulation in your feet. During pregnancy feet and ankles swell easily when sitting for extended periods of time. So take a break, stretch and move your legs, feet and toes.

For expectant mothers, the middle rear seat is the safest place in a car (as long as it offers a shoulder and lap belt). However, if you sit in the front passenger seat, push it back as far as possible, to protect your belly if the airbag deploys.

Now that you're prepared for safer driving on the road, it's time to find the perfect child safety seat for the first ride home with your baby. – Quickpic.co.za

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