Pros: Keeps seatbelt safely and comfortably positioned on hips; can stay in seat at all times.
Cons: Fastens/unfastens mid-crotch; base tends to slide off seat at times (not during use).
Around my fifth month of pregnancy, my husband and I decided to partake in the modern tradition of the gift registry and giddily drove to our nearest Babies R Us store. He immediately commandeered the bar code gun (a small price to pay to keep him happy and close by) and we were off. I had a good mental list going of the things we needed to register for - bouncy seat, swing, high chair, and the other normal baby stuff. And, having been quite interested in baby gear for some time anyway, I was a bit surprised to stumble across something I had never heard of before.
We saw the Mom-to-Be Maternity Seat Belt Positioning Device by Theodore Bean stacked on an endcap near the carseats, and I had to stop and take a look. Already the seatbelts in my car were twisting awkwardly around my expanding middle. The U.S. Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that during pregnancy "lap belts, as well as the lap portion of a lap-shoulder belt combination, should be placed low, across the hips and over the upper thighs. They must lie snugly over the pelvis. Never place the belt over the abdomen."
No amount of pushing and shoving was keeping my seatbelt lying flat against my hips at this point, and I decided that this positioner couldn't wait for the registry; $19.99 later, we were out of the store and I was opening the box before we even reached the car.
~* Installation *~
The Mom-to-Be Maternity Seat Belt Positioning Device is comprised of two parts; a base which remains in the seat and a seatbelt attachment which remains clipped to the seatbelt.
The base is a black rectangular cushion with just a bit of padding inside. It is very lightweight and has the product name embroidered on the right side of the pad with a red arrow pointing to the front of the base. In the center there is a black plastic clip, the kind commonly found on carseat and stroller harnesses.
The seatbelt attachment is a rectangular cushion which folds neatly in half with the lap portion of the seatbelt in between, snapping in place around the belt. A three-pronged clip extends from the lower portion of the cushion.
~* How To Use *~
This seat belt positioner is remarkably easy to use: the base is placed in the seat - driver's or passenger's - near the front edge. Upon entering the vehicle, the pregnant woman will actually sit on the base with the clip between her legs.
When the seatbelt is pulled across the body and buckled, the seatbelt attachment will line up in the middle of the mommy-to-be's abdomen. The three-pronged clip on the seatbelt attachment locks into the buckle on the base, pulling the seatbelt downward, below the belly and resting comfortably on the hips. An adjustment strap on the seatbelt attachment allows each user to adjust the height of the seatbelt for maximum comfort.
~* One Mommy's Experience *~
From the very beginning, I felt more safe while using the Mom-to-Be Maternity Seat Belt Positioning Device. I knew that if I should happen to be in an accident, the pressure of the seatbelt would be applied mainly to my pelvis rather than around my middle, my daughter. While I make every effort to be a good and safe driver, there is no accounting for the drivers around you after all.
The positioner took no time at all to move from one seat to another on the occasion that my husband drove my car - simply toss the base onto the other side, unsnap the seatbelt attachment and snap it onto the opposite seatbelt. I was quite often frustrated at my husband when he drove my car without me, however - he tended to throw both base and belt attachment into the backseat, leaving me to dig for them the next time I drove. Picky husband aside, I left the base and seatbelt attachment in the same place at all times.
The base being so lightweight, it did tend to slide into the floorboard - or out of the car - as I got out of the vehicle, but only a few times. For the most part it stayed in place rather well on my cloth seats, although I imagine it may slide more in a vehicle with a leather interior. (While driving, of course, the base can not possibly slide as the weight sitting on top of it holds it securely in place.)
Sliding aside, I have only one small complaint with the inherent design of this positioner. If you've been paying attention, you'll remember that you get in the car, sit on the base, and fasten the seatbelt positioner to the clip between your legs. Yes, between your legs. See where I'm going with this one? To the casual observer outside the vehicle, I can only imagine that, with all the fiddling down there, it appears that you're having a good scratch before departing (or indeed, when arriving as the positioner must be released before you can unbuckle). And the drama doesn't decrease with a passenger in your vehicle, as you're faced with explaining the seatbelt positioner (as you fiddle in your crotch to fasten the thing) or just decide to leave it unfastened this trip.
Sliding and crotch-fiddling just aren't big enough issues to make me cross this item off my must-have baby gear list, though. I used mine from the very night we purchased ours until the day we made that oh-so-scary drive to the hospital to have my labor induced. Upon bringing our new bundle home, I put the positioner back in its original box and packed it away with my maternity clothes and copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting. If and when we're blessed with a second child, it will be one of the first things unpacked - even before I need the maternity clothes next time, I'll feel so much better knowing that the precious cargo riding with me is safe from harm.
~* Disclaimer-Slash-Reality Check *~
The packaging of this product clearly states: "The Mom-to-Be Seat Belt accessory is designed to increase the users comfort and maintain automobile safety through proper seat belt usage and should only be used in conjunction with stock automobile manufacturer seat belts.
There is no guarantee, expressed or implied that the use of the Mom-to-Be seat belt positioner can totally eliminate all potential for injury. Furthermore, serious injuries are unavoidable in some motor vehicle accidents no matter how well designed the restraint system may be."
~* Contact Information *~
Visit Theodore Bean online at www.theodorebean.com, call toll free 1-877-68-TBEAN or write to:
Theodore Bean/Motion Import, Inc.
P.O. Box 271
Temecula, CA 92593-0271