The question should be more like “Should a pregnant woman shoot guns?” If yes, then what are the risk factors? If not, then why? We have all the answers so, you can stop asking yourself “Can I go to the shooting range being pregnant?”
Pregnancy is a condition that puts mothers in a constant state of physical and mental fatigue with countless complications. So while clicking on this article, which you may have searched up out of curiosity or stumbled upon while searching anything related, you may be wondering, “why would pregnant women need to go shooting in the first place?”
Well questions like these occurring in your head are quite expected as the first query in anyone’s mind upon thinking of such a scenario is, “why?”
So for all the nonpregnant people, we’re here to provide an insight to this situation and to answer the question, can a pregnant woman go shooting?
Why Would a Pregnant Woman Want To Shoot Guns?
First we’ll answer your “why?”
A simple answer is maybe you just love shooting and don’t wanna let motherhood be a reason to let go of something you love for 10 months.
Or maybe you are someone working on defense lines, or a woman training in firearms and other responsibilities in related sectors where these females can’t help but operate firearms, sometimes even when they are in these fragile conditions. For them, of course, not touching a gun for nine whole months during the prenatal period is close to impossible.
Aside from that, there are professional shooters, women winning gold for their nations in shooting competitions. There are quite a few target shooters who shoot as a hobby. For these women it’s difficult to let go of something they’re so passionate about. So now that we’ve understood why someone would like to pick up a gun during pregnancy, we can go forth and learn more about the risk factors and precautions related to it.
What Risk Factors Do Pregnant Women Face While Shooting?
Shooting itself has many risk factors which require constant vigilance and precautions. When a gun is shot, there’s a backwards push the gun experiences as the bullet leaves it. This shoving force itself is capable of injuring the shooter.
Then you’ve got all the chemicals in the air at a shooting range, the gunpowder, the dust heavy with lead and the loud firing noises. There’s also debris that can get into your nose, eyes, mouth and cause issues. Now there are ways to minimize these effects for the shooter but for a baby in the womb who is extremely sensitive to all outer stimuli that the mother experiences, this may bring disastrous outcomes.
Let’s take a deeper look at all the risk factors and understand how they’ll affect mother and child.
Exposure To Chemicals In Shooting Range
Gun shooting includes a lot of components, there’s gunpowder, primer, fired shells and so on. All these components emit strong chemical gasses and debris which are inhaled by the shooter. Prolonged contact with these elements leaves behind lasting, sometimes permanent and eventually fatal consequences. Here’s some brief information on different types of chemical poisoning.
When a gun fires out a bullet, a forceful chemical and physical change takes place, emitting fumes, nano dust of broken particles. A mixture of different chemical gasses and aerosol fills the shooting area.
Gasses like CO, CO2, H2O, HCN, NH3, NO, SO2 are emitted in high amounts and keep floating in the air. Exposure to these causes chronic pulmonary problems, cancer and even affects the DNA in lung cells.
Steel core or lead core guns leave behind debris of various toxic elements like Copper(Cu), Zinc(Zn), Lead(Pb), Iron(Fe) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These metals are spread in the form of nanoparticles and they invade your lungs, mouth, eyes, creating issues like coughing, increased C-reactive Protein (CRP) in blood, reduced lung function – all of which are symptoms of metal fever.
Carbon monoxide poisoning at sites with gunpowder, active primers and fired bullets is an expected side effect and although many people may know they’re being exposed to CO, they might not know the complete effects or the damage it’s causing them.
Carbon Monoxide obstructs delivery of oxygen to the developing fetus by reducing the oxygen carrying capacity of the mother’s blood. Studies have shown that longtime exposure to CO increases risk of reduced fetal growth, preterm birth, cardiac birth defects and otoacoustic deficits.
CO poisoning severity depends on the amount and time of exposure to it as well as gestational age during exposure. High exposure to CO exhibits symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tiredness and severe CO poisoning has symptoms like mental confusion, lack of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness. Whenever these symptoms are seen, the mother needs to be taken to an emergency room immediately.
Exposure to lead is a common problem whenever working with lead materials and when guns are fired, a huge amount of lead dust collects in the air you breathe. Prolonged inhalation of lead particles will clog up the cells in your lungs, creating chances of lung cancer. Skin cancer is also a possibility when being exposed to lead for a long time.
Nausea, headache, breathing issues, skin irritation are all common problems caused by lead poisoning. If the mother is constantly inhaling lead, it can reach the fetus mixed with the mother’s blood.
Exposure to Loud Noise
When a gun is fired, there’s a lot of force being expelled and it creates a loud “bang!”. Now most of the time, shooters wear safety goggles and safety headsets to block out this noise and they’re mostly used to it too. But the undeveloped fetus isn’t used to this sudden loud disturbance or the extra force. This will affect the child’s general condition and may shock it or cause any displacement.
Too Much Stress
During shooting, the shooter needs to adjust their posture, fix their aim, judge their standing distance, lift the gun and gears weight and so on. This puts a lot of pressure on the mother’s mind and she gets stressed. Stress itself is already harmful to a baby’s growth and development. Furthermore, the mother’s posture and rash movements will cause the baby discomfort as well.
How Long Can You Still Shoot During Pregnancy?
During the first few weeks, your body doesn’t face many changes and neither is the fetus that well formed. Your body isn’t too fatigued and you can still take part in slight movements.
However, avoid going to any shooting ranges once you have it 13 weeks into your pregnancy. At this stage, your body will start showing noticeable changes and you’ll start to tire out faster. Additionally your baby’s ears will start forming 13-15 weeks into your pregnancy. If you go to a shooting range during this stage, there’s a potential risk of damaging your baby’s hearing.
What Steps Can You Take To Make Shooting Practice Safer?
Here are some precautions you can take to avoid chemical poisoning while you’re at a shooting range:
- Go to a shooting range with a proper ventilation system. Outdoor shooting ranges are preferable.
- Avoid staying at the range for an unnecessarily long time.
- Bring along a spare set of clothes which you can use only at the shooting range. Don’t wear these for too long to avoid toxicity.
- Cover your face with a face mask.
- Always wear gloves while shooting. You’ll avoid direct contact with lead and gunpowder this way.
- Never eat at the shooting range.
So after learning all of this, the question still remains: is it safe to shoot a gun while pregnant?
Technically no. It is unsafe. But the act of shooting practice itself is unsafe and we always take precautions while shooting, don’t we?
As pregnancy is a special, fragile case, we’ll need to be even more cautious and mind our physical conditions and responses.
During pregnancy, mothers need to take precautions when shooting and while at a shooting range. They need to be alert and if they notice any symptoms like nausea, weakness, breathing issues, they should be taken to a hospital as soon as possible.
So yes, you can shoot during pregnancy but be sure to take all the proper precautions and keep in mind the stage up to which you can shoot without causing any harm to your baby.