When it comes to designing cars at Ford Motor Company, comfort for expectant mothers is high on the agenda. Ford engineers and designers go to great lengths to understand the driving constraints women face while pregnant, even getting behind the wheel wearing an “Empathy Belly” – a suit which features belly weight inserts, a six-pound pouch that applies pressure to the bladder, and compartments for water and ball bearings that mimic mild fetal kicking.
Experiencing life in the driver’s seat wearing the Empathy Belly prompted design changes to benefit expectant mothers as well as offering the following tips to improve safety and comfort while driving. After researching and studying the experience of expectant mothers while driving, Ford has devised safety tips for mothers-to-be.
- Wearing Your Seatbelt Correctly – Make sure that your seatbelt is positioned below your abdomen, across your hips. The shoulder strap should be between your breasts, and make sure to tug on the belt to make sure it’s nice and snug.
- Move Back – Move your seat back to a comfortable distance when you are driving. Reclining the seat slightly can also help. Doing this will protect your stomach in the event of an airbag deployment.
- Support Your Back –If you have pregnancy related back pain, place a small circular back pillow to support your lower back or use a rolled up towel. This will help increase comfort while you’re driving.
- Take a Break – If you’re driving for a lengthy period, take regular breaks to increase blood flow to your feet. Feet and ankle are prone to swelling and it can worsen by sitting for long periods. Take a break to gently move your feet around, rotate your ankles, and wiggle your toes.
- Be the Passenger – When possible, be a passenger. Sitting in the backseat is the safest spot in the car for an expectant mother. If you sit in the front seat, make sure to push the seat back as far as you can to protect from airbag deployment.
- Have Your Information –Wherever you go, make sure to bring a long your pregnancy record card, which includes a detailed list of medical information, test results, and emergency contacts.
Remember that car safety is always important, and even more so when you’re pregnant. Make sure to follow these tips to ensure your safety as well as that of your future child. For a live demonstration of the “Empathy Suit” and the design features to benefit expectant mothers.