I was pregnant just couple of days before our Philippines trip so I had to research about diving and pregnancy.
My husband is a scuba diving instructor and I am a PADI rescue diver, we met on diving six years ago so for us this is a big thing that we do together! Scuba diving in the Philippines is one of the best in the word so I was super excited about this. When I found I was pregnant I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to be able to go diving or no. Bojan knows that diving and pregnancy don’t go together, but we didn’t know the official advice. We first started from the beginning – our association – PADI official advice:
PADI says that there is not enough data out there to prove if its risky or not
They would like to learn move via survey if you have dived while pregnant. Ok.. so PADI doesn’t have real official advice so we turned to the second and maybe more relevant organization DAN (divers alert network). DAN has more elaborated text on the subject, but also starts that there are simply not a lot of data. More are needed so conclusion can be made. They state that some experiments were made on rats in hyperbaric chamber. Tests proved that the babies rates born later had no consequences from their mother being exposed to the pressure change. However some different experiments showed that baby fetus needs more time to decompress rather than average human body. Also the “silent bubbles” much harder leave the circulation of an adult than the fetus.
Probably the best source of experiments is the one done on sheeps.
It says that Twelve sheep with dated pregnancies were exposed for 20 min to hyperbaric pressure comparable to 165 feet of sea water weekly between the 49th and 133rd days of pregnancy. Six were decompressed in stages and six directly without decompression stops. Those that were decompressed gradually delivered normally at or near term. One lamb was abnormal, but the relationship to pressurization is unclear. Three of those decompressed rapidly aborted dead fetuses, and two others delivered mature, but affected, lambs. Under the conditions of this study staged decompression after repeated hyperbaric exposures protected the fetuses from the destructive effects of rapid decompression. Hyperbaric pressure did not alter gross anatomic development.
So one sheep had abnormalities but it can’t be associated with normal decompression.
Last and most important were the experiences of mothers from online sources. Most of them that dived were ok but one mother had a child with heart abnormalities. She is not sure if its because she went diving while pregnant but she will never know or stop wandering.
So – the conclusion is that if you go diving while pregnant you will probably be ok. But risk of damaging the fetus is bigger and simply its not worth it!
You can always go diving after childbirth but if you have a baby with a defect even if not likely there is no turning back. No “good genes” will save a baby if the bubble is formed so I decided just to skip it. There is still some fun for a future mother, you can always snorkel without any risk for you or for baby! Check my GoPro photo with a Whale Shark
There is a lot of fun in the water in the shallows!