Is it safe to scuba dive while pregnant?

by spotmydive

Being pregnant is always a great news. However, you have already booked your diving holidays and you ask if it is possible to practice scuba diving during pregnancy. But, do not worry, you are not the only person to have this concern and Spotmydive is here to give you some answers and explain why diving underwater is strongly discouraged.

Short physiology course

A fetus follows its growth inside the uterus by bathing in the amniotic fluid during the traditional nine months of pregnancy. The feeding and breathing of the fetus is done from the placenta through the umbilical cord. The placenta is an organ that physically and biologically connects the embryo to the lining of the uterus. It ensures all exchanges between the fetal and maternal circulation. The placenta is in a way the lung of the fetus. The blood and gaseous balance of the mother is very important for the fetus since he is dependent on it. In this case, if the mother undergoes any disturbance of blood she is transmitted immediately to the fetus. The placenta is very richly vascularized. Enriched, oxygenated and purged fetal blood is carried to the fetus by the umbilical cord, which transfers the blood in one direction or the other. Note that the fetus is in a state of hypoxia throughout the pregnancy.

What happens during a dive

During a dive, water pressure is exerted on all organs and fluids. There is also a considerable increase in partial pressures of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen in relation to depth. However, the human body has its own characteristics. It is therefore impossible to know exactly the gaseous pressures exerted on the placenta with respect to the large pressure differences related to the depth in the mother and the fetus.

The dangers of diving during pregnancy

Danger for the mother while diving

The most common and most dreaded accident is undoubtedly decompression. This accident usually happens if one does not dive respecting the rules of diving or decompression tables. Decompression is a phenomenon that is characterized by the presence of pathogenic nitrogen bubbles in the blood system and have more or less significant consequences on the body. Be aware that in case of decompression, any deficit in the brain of the fetus can cause serious brain damage that can not be discovered only at birth.

Danger for the fetus while diving

If you dive during your pregnancy, the dissolved nitrogen in the maternal blood which passes in the fetus. At the moment scientist are still working on this question but you must know that it is highly likely that the fetus can suffer decompression sickness even if the mother is safe. Considerable risk of malformation, lack of growth or even more serious issues can result of the dive.

Other disturbances

There are other factors, during a dive, that can disrupt pregnancy:
– Animals and plants pungent or provoking hives.

– The dive is a prolonged physical exercise which requires a big muscular expenditure, consumption of oxygen etc … which can harm the good progress of the pregnancy.

– The cold which causes a vasoconstriction of the vessels by decreasing the capacities of gas exchanges and favors the fatigability.

– The adjusted combination that can also have an impact

Pregnancy and Freediving

Apnea do not present the same risk of decompression as scuba diving. Freediving during pregnancy in a natural environment between 3 and 5 meters deep is not a problem as long as you pay attention to hyperventilation.

To understand the risks

The practice of scuba diving while being pregnant is strongly not recommended. However, it is possible to have made several dives without even knowing this state of pregnancy. It is said that fetal malformations can be frequent with repeated dives between 20 and 30 meters during the 1st trimester.

Some references:

Between 0 and 6 weeks: If we respect the levels with rigor and that we dive less than 20 meters deep, there is almost no risk.

Between 6 and 13 weeks: Better avoid diving.

13 weeks and over: Scuba diving is a major risk.

To summarize all this, scuba diving and apnea are strongly discouraged and even prohibited for the pregnant woman to prevent accidents in the fetus.
Shallow dives, with respect for bearings during an incipient and unknown pregnancy, require further monitoring. 4 weeks after the delivery you can start diving again