With the chance to see beautiful marine life, the ability to explore parts of the world that are normally off-limits and its overall sense of adventure, it’s hardly surprising that scuba diving is popular with millions of people.
But if you have recently become pregnant, you are probably wondering if this exciting past-time is something you should avoid while you are expecting.
According to experts, pregnant women should avoid diving while pregnant, as well as while trying to get pregnant, because there is not enough evidence to suggest that diving is safe.
Here’s all you need to know.
Table of Contents
Can You Scuba Dive During Pregnancy?
As with most pregnancy-related questions, the best place to start is by looking at what those who are really in the know advise.
The recommendation from both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is that pregnant women should avoid diving while pregnant and while trying to conceive.
Let’s take a look at the reasons behind this advice.
Why Is Scuba Diving Not Advised?
Risks To The Fetus
First up, it’s probably worth highlighting that there is little to no reliable human data or research that can rule out that diving is dangerous for a fetus.
With this in mind, the advice from the expert bodies above, as well as many others such as the NHS, is essentially based on the thinking that you’d rather be safe than sorry.
Research on animals suggest that there are possible negative effects on a fetus when diving, due to decompression illness, decompression sickness and hyperbaric oxygen exposure.
Research on humans, as you’d expect, is limited, given reliable data would require significant numbers of pregnant women to take part in trials and partake in an activity which is not recommended.
Given the above, there is simply no way of knowing for sure how safe or dangerous scuba diving is for a pregnant woman.
Yes, there is no scientific evidence that proves diving can cause fetal defects, but at the same time there is also no scientific evidence that proves it doesn’t carry a risk.
Your unborn baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream), and given a developing fetus is not protected from nitrogen bubbles, there is – at the very least – a theoretical risk of injury.
Whether you are pregnant or not, scuba diving also has some well-known, established risks, which include:
- Decompression Sickness
- Arterial Air Embolism
- Nitrogen Narcosis
- Ear Barotrauma
- Oxygen Toxicity
Just like skiing and snowboarding – which is also best avoided during pregnant – scuba diving is generally considered to be a low-risk activity, which is why it’s such a common activity across the globe.
It does however involve some levels of risk and danger, and these are likely to also be a factor when deciding whether or not to go free diving or scuba diving during your pregnancy.
What Can You Do Instead?
It might be frustrating to read that you should not scuba dive while pregnant, but doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun while on vacation!
Snorkelling is considered to be safe for pregnant women, and so is a day trip on a boat, and both of these can be great ways to enjoy the ocean and all the wonders that lie beneath.
Help – I’ve Recently Gone Diving
Unsurprisingly, is not uncommon for women to go diving while they are unaware that they are pregnant, and if this is the case for you, it’s only natural to worry.
If you are looking for reassurance then the good news is there is nothing so suggest that you should consider having an elective termination of the pregnancy or an abortion.
Inadvertent exposure to recreational diving or scuba diving in early pregnancy, for example if you’ve gone scuba diving while 4 weeks pregnant, is not a reason for pregnancy termination.
We hope that helps clear things up if you are considering scuba diving while pregnant.
We’ve seen that experts advise that pregnant women avoid diving while conceiving and throughout their pregnancy, but as a final point it’s worth noting that another reason for not diving during pregnancy is down to phycology.
Miscarriages and other negative outcomes are a fact of life, and the last thing you’ll want to do is put yourself in a position where you could blame yourself if you think your decision to dive could have resulted in any negative pregnancy outcome.
- Can You Jet Ski While Pregnant? (Main Risks & What To Consider)
- Effect of Cold Water During Pregnancy (Bath, Shower, Swim, Drinks)
- Sunburn While Pregnant (Risks & How To Treat A Burn)