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New campaign encourages pregnant women to wear seat belts

A new campaign has been launched in Co Mayo to inform to mothers-to-be of the dangers of driving without wearing a seatbelt.

Image: Katie Collins/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A NEW CAMPAIGN has been launched in Co Mayo to inform to mothers-to-be of the dangers of driving without wearing a seatbelt.

The campaign follows a recent number incidents involving pregnant women who were admitted to Mayo General Hospital after been involved in road traffic accidents which “potentially life-treating for both mother and child”, say organisers.

Now, as part of the National Road Safety Week, expectant mothers are being reminded about the importance of belting up in vehicles.

Consultant Obstetrician Dr Ulrich Bartels, Mayo General Hospital, said the campaign aimed at reducing the traumatic effects a car collision can have on an expectant mother and her child as there is very little recorded data on this issue: “You can take almost identical collisions and the baby will be injured and the mother will be fine, or vice versa,” she said. ”The feeling is that during a collision there are strong shear forces that separate the uterus and placenta, reducing the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the baby”.

“You can have partial or severe separation, and babies can continue to have healthy gestation with partial separation. But with any separation there is some foetal distress and the closer it is to full term the greater the chance of premature delivery, as the shock releases hormones prompting birth; any baby born early is at risk of breathing problems.”

Also commenting on the campaign, Noel Gibbons -Road Safety Officer at Mayo County Council – said he hoped the campaign would dispel the myth that wearing a seat belt is harmful for the foetus. “Women radically overhaul their lifestyles to ensure they have a healthy pregnancy, yet by failing to belt up many are putting their own lives and those of their unborn babies in jeopardy,” he said. “All mothers would be horrified at the thought of their unborn or newly-born child being harmed or even crushed to death in a crash, yet many are risking just this because of a lack of understanding about the life-saving importance of properly restraining themselves and their children.”

Frances Burke, Childbirth Educator at MGH said: “A few simple steps taken by pregnant women and new mothers will save lives on our roads. It’s essential that expectant mothers follow government advice and wear a seat belt – for all journeys no matter how long. Research shows that the majority of crashes happen on roads close to home so even for a quick trip to the shops.”

Mothers-to-be are advised that:

  • Wearing a safetybelt won’t bring harm to the baby, which is encircled with amniotic fluid from all sides; it protects her from strong blows, which are dangerous for the foetus
  • It is illegal not to wear a seat belt unless you have a current certificate signed by a medical practitioner exempting you due to medical reasons - pregnancy does not in itself automatically provide exemption from the law
  • Even if your own injuries are slight in a crash, there is still a risk of losing your baby – wearing a seatbelt reduces this risk
  • People who don’t wear a seatbelt can injure other people in the vehicle as well as themselves in a crash

Pregnant women are advised to speak to their doctor or midwife about any concerns they might have.

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