The question of whether you can scuba dive while pregnant comes up frequently in diving circles. If you think back to your Open Water training, you’ll remember that they discourage women from diving while pregnant. But the exact reasons are not always explained. Mostly, there are limitations to the research that is possible. Experimenting with pregnant women is far from ethical.
The majority of studies conducted about scuba diving and pregnancy are limited to surveys of female divers who have recently given birth. In one study, 69 women who hadn’t dived during their pregnancy and 109 women who had were surveyed. Those who hadn’t been scuba diving while pregnant reported no congenital disabilities. Those who had reported a defect incidence of 5.5% in their babies.
But as stated by the author, 5.5% is within the normal range of birth defect incidence for the general population. Also, the small sample size of women and their likelihood of selection bias makes the survey results difficult to interpret accurately. So, while this study established a correlation for doing scuba while pregnant, it cannot confirm a causal relationship that diving caused the defect.
As with any health-related issue, it’s vital that women who are pregnant – or trying to conceive – consult with their doctors prior. Your doctor will be able to advise you of the latest pregnancy-related scuba diving research findings and recommendations. They will also be able to advise when it’s safe to return to the sport after giving birth.