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Scuba diving while pregnant has crossed your mind. You booked your diving holiday months ago and within a few weeks to start them you discover you are pregnant. You do not have any symptoms yet, and you do not think there’s anything to worry about, do you?
However, you learned pregnant women should not dive during your PADI Open Water Diver course, and you feel frustrated. You do not understand why and you realize how little you know about the impact diving can have on your unborn child.
Then you look up information on the internet and different blogs, and realize that there is very little content about it.
Knowing if scuba diving while pregnant is safe is a topic that should interest both men and women, all of us should have information, especially if you are trying to have a child or know someone in this situation.
Why Can’t You Practice Scuba Diving While Pregnant?
We know that scuba diving while pregnant is completely unwise, but what is the scientific evidence to support this idea? We have to say that there is no scientific evidence for this, and there is little and inconclusive research. The reason is very easy to explain. It is unethical to do research with pregnant women to check for possible harmful effects, nor for tobacco, nor for alcohol, nor for, of course, diving. Yes, there is some research on animals, but we cannot use their results to understand the consequences of diving on human females.
Regarding the few studies that are known, the cases in which there were problems in pregnancy are a fact. However, they are not significant compared with the average, and none of these troubles can be considered a direct consequence of diving.
Similarly, there is no scientific evidence to support that the fetus will not suffer consequences if a pregnant woman suffers from decompression illness, pulmonary barotrauma or arterial embolism. However, we do know that it is harder for a pregnant woman to breathe. Also, as the fetus grows, the pressure on the diaphragm increases. Not to mention that the decompression tables do not contemplate the pregnancy variable.
According to some research from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC), the fetus may even suffer harm if the mother has to be treated in a hyperbaric chamber.
Separately, DAN says that it can increase the risk of arterial gas embolism because the exchange of gases does not occur in the fetus’s lungs but through the placenta.
There are also some additional facts we should consider scuba diving while pregnant. For example, the difficulty the mother will have in moving around wearing diving gear.
This especially happens in advanced stages of pregnancy. On the other hand, during the first months, women usually feel dizzy and nauseous. As we know, diving is not indicated if you have either of these two symptoms.
Possible infections and fluid retention are other aspects to consider with respect to scuba diving while pregnant. In the latter case, the mother may have difficulty compensating the ears.
Scuba Diving While Pregnant: Other Options
When expecting a child, the best advice you can follow is from your doctor. He or she will tell you when you can dive again and what other sports you can do to continue enjoying the sea.
We know that being in the water is a pleasure for many pregnant women, where they can reduce fatigue and relieve weight, so even if scuba diving while pregnant is not an option, why not try snorkeling?