Pregnancy & Diving
Can you dive when pregnant? The short answer is, unfortunately, no. Along with smoking and drinking, women should stop scuba diving for the term of their pregnancy.
While this may be disappointing news for dedicated female scuba divers (such as myself), it is the best advice, given what research is available.
Medical research into this topic is somewhat limited, with not too many Mums-to-be very keen to become test subjects. However, what human research does exist, combined with research undertaken on sheep, which have the closest placenta to humans, suggests scuba diving can cause harm to your developing child and possibly result in miscarriage or birth defects.
This makes it a no-brainer. Put scuba diving behind you for a while and focus on some land based activities instead.
I suppose for most women, like myself, this does not come up until you are actually planning a family. I read a lot of material on the internet and then asked my obstetrician for advice. He told me that scuba diving was strictly off limits for the duration of my pregnancy.
Snorkelling was acceptable, as long as I stuck to floating on the surface with strictly no diving down to any depth at all. I accept this advice and follow it to the letter, as at no point in time do I want to endanger my baby and its development.
Note: For anyone like me who suffers from sea sickness, another thing to take into consideration is pregnancy and medication. I cannot take my usual sea sickness preventative medication (Kwells) whilst pregnant. This means for me, I am now totally out of the water for the duration of my pregnancy, unless it is a really calm day.
So why is pregnancy and diving a no go? There are a few different reasons, as follows:
- The risk to a fetus if it suffers from decompression sickness is high and can be fatal.
- The fetus does not have lungs to filter nitrogen. If the mother gets decompression illness and passes it on to her fetus, the fetus does not have any way to expel any bubbles that may form.
Studies have shown that women who dive while pregnant may suffer from miscarriage, or their babies may suffer from birth defects, including neonatal respiratory difficulties and heart abnormalities.
How long do I need to wait to scuba dive after my baby has arrived?
This will vary from woman to woman, pending your general health, labour, delivery and baby.
Generally speaking, women who have had a natural birth should not scuba dive for at least four weeks after the arrival of their baby. For women who have had a caesarean, it may be longer.
I hope this page is of some assistance for expectant mothers. Pregnancy is a journey and something we all want to complete safely, being able to make informed decisions regarding our actions and their possible impacts on our unborn children.
This information has been gathered from my own online research and by speaking to my doctors. The best advice is to seek your own advice from a medical professional on all and any matters pertaining to safety and your pregnancy.
Congratulations and just think, you and your water baby will be blowing bubbles together before you know it.