For women who are or may become pregnant, diving is a possibly dangerous activity. Every diver knows the activity can be a dangerous one. However it has particular concerns for pregnant individuals. Simply put, diving can put pressure on the body and on the fetus as well. Because this is unnecessary pressure, it is best to avoid the activity if at all possible. Most well educated instructors of diving do what they can to stop pregnant women from diving. However, it is better if one knows why it may be unsafe for them, rather than simply being told it is dangerous.
Recent studies show that women who are pregnant are prone to DCS (decompression sickness). DCS is a term used for the bubbles that form from solution inside one’s body. When this occurs, there are a myriad of symptoms that can occur such as nausea, pain, rashes, and paralysis. Another worry is that the bubbles in a fetus are possible. For those women who are in their second or third trimester, this is especially worrisome. Within a fetus, these bubbles can become extremely dangerous as they can migrate to vital organs. Damage to the fetus’s brain or organs can cause birth defects or even incite a miscarriage.
Studies have not been wholly conclusive when it comes to humans because in-depth testing cannot be done. No woman wants to chance her potential child to a series of test that could involve death. Because of this, only animal studies have been done in hyperbaric. The studies have shown some adverse effects, but it is not easy to tell if they would translate to human impact. Few studies have been done on women who were pregnant after deep diving. These studies came back inconclusive. While some showed an increased risk of birth defects, another showed no raised likelihood. Until there are particular tests done directly on pregnant females, there is no definitive answer.
There is no real necessity to diving. Even if one dives for work, maternity leave or temporary job migration is standard. This is directly because the possible effects on the pregnant woman’s body. More importantly, since there is no necessity to dive, there is no reason to put a fetus or woman at risk. Why risk your body or your potential child’s when you can simply wait out the terms and return to diving? If diving is simply a hobby you cannot live without, try open-ocean snorkeling. While it certainly will not give you every advantage of deep-water diving, you will still be able to partake in your general hobby. And what is nine months of waiting when afterwards you can teach and share the fun of diving with your child. Again, the risk and reward is simply not worth it. A healthy pregnancy is a responsibility. The fun of diving will still be around when you are done with that responsibility.