Ideally, your pregnant wife shouldn\'t be the one to get behind the wheel. But in this fast-paced world, it can\'t be helped sometimes.
With that in mind, Ford Group Philippines invited a few married male motoring journalists to an event that made us experience what it is like to be pregnant, using a pregnancy suit. This suit--composed of belly weight inserts, a chest brace to make wearers short of breath, a 6lb pouch that applies pressure to the bladder, and two giant ball bearings--is meant to simulate what it\'s like to be pregnant.
Ford\'s designers and engineers wear the suit during the design process to make sure that their cars are easy to get into and out of. Areas of concern are the position of the walk-off during egress, the height of the roof, the comfort of the seat, and the placement of the steering wheel. They got it right. Getting into and out of the current-generation Focus was a breeze, even while wearing the unwieldy suit.
For expectant parents, here are a few tips from David Stanley, supervisor of Ford Australia\'s Vehicle Package & Ergonomics and Vehicle Engineering departments, to keep your wife and unborn child safe while on the road.
1. Make sure your wife is wearing her seatbelt correctly. Make sure that the lap belt is positioned below her abdomen, across her hips and not directly over her bump. The shoulder strap should be between her chest, and make sure to tug on the belt to make sure it\'s nice and snug. Never tuck the shoulder belt under her arm or behind her back.
2. Move her seat back. Move her seat back to a comfortable distance when she is driving, while still being able to operate the pedals with arms slightly bent. Reclining the seat slightly and tilting the steering wheel can also help. Doing this will protect her stomach in the event of an airbag deployment.
3. Support her back. If she has pregnancy-related back pain, place a small circular back pillow to support her lower back or use a rolled-up towel. This will help increase comfort while she is driving.
4. Take a break. If she\'s driving for a lengthy period, ask her to take regular breaks to increase blood flow to her feet. Feet and ankles are prone to swelling, and it can worsen by sitting for long periods. Take a break to gently move her feet around, rotate the ankles, and wiggle the toes.
5. Let her be the passenger. When possible, ask your wife to be a passenger. Sitting in the backseat is the safest spot in the car for an expectant mother. If she takes the front seat, make sure to push the seatback as far from her as you can to protect her from airbag deployment.
6. Have information ready. Wherever you go, bring along her pregnancy record card, which includes a detailed list of medical information, test results, and emergency contacts.