Can You Skydive While Pregnant?

Thursday, December 22, 2022

We’ve seen it time and time again, you make a skydiving reservation only to find out you’ve got a little bun in the oven! Your first thought might be – should I reschedule my reservation or can I skydive while pregnant? Here is everything you need to know about skydiving and pregnancy.

What to Know About Skydiving While Pregnant

If you ask your doctor “can I skydive pregnant?”, the most likely answer will be a hard “no”. This is because doctors tend to play it as safe as possible and would never want the responsibility or liability that comes with approving an activity that ultimately has risks attached to it (baby or no baby).

With that being said, technically, you can skydive while pregnant and some women do! However, at Skydive Tecumseh, people are discouraged from skydiving while pregnant (especially as a tandem skydiver). The answer can be a little different for licensed skydivers because they are experienced and already know what to expect and the risks associated.

Thanks to Dr. Laura Galdamez and her published article, “Baby Skydiver on Board!” (Parachutist, May 2022) – we can take an even further look into the inherent risks of skydiving while pregnant even as a licensed skydiver.

Increased Risk of Injury and Discomfort

All of the changes and symptoms associated with pregnancy can hinder performance during any physical activity, such as skydiving. Nausea and vomiting in the first six to 12 weeks occurs in 50% to 80% of pregnancies, while 20% of pregnant people experience these symptoms for 20 weeks or more! So you can see why it might be uncomfortable for a pregnant person to be in an airplane, let alone jumping out of one OR spinning around in circles while under canopy.

Exercising while pregnant is known to have many benefits, including decreased rates of Cesarean section, easier postpartum recovery, prevention of excess gestational weight gain, and reduced risk of other pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia.

However, pregnant women do have a higher risk of musculoskeletal injuries because of the increased joint laxity and flexibility as mama’s body prepares for birth. Weight gain can shift your center of gravity, making it hard to keep balance – which can result in falls and/or injuries – and difficult to maintain good form when performing physical activities (like skydiving).

For licensed skydivers, the typical 26 to 44 pounds in gained weight alone can increase wing loading by up to 25%, alter the basic fit of the harness, and increase the fall rate.

Can Skydiving Cause a Miscarriage?

The short answer is that there is actually very little known about the specific risks of skydiving while pregnant. The primary risks of skydiving while pregnant are trauma, hypoxia (from altitude exposure), and environmental heat.

Trauma in Pregnancy

The greatest risk from skydiving while pregnant is the potential trauma during the parachute opening, when you experience a quick decrease in speed, and also during a hard landing. While on your skydive, you’ll be falling at a rate of 120+ mph – when the parachute opens, the fall rate will abruptly decrease to 17-21 mph. In cases of a hard parachute opening, there is some potential for placental abruption. The risk of trauma from a hard landing could cause uterine, placental, or direct fetal injury.

Hypoxia in Pregnancy

risk of skydiving while pregnant

Studies show that pregnant people living at high altitudes have increased rates of miscarriage and complications, but little is known about short-term exposure to high altitudes (such as on your skydive).

In one study, it was found that exposure to altitudes above 8,000 feet during pregnancy had the potential to increase rates of preterm labor and oxygen use by the newborns, however, the overall rate was insignificant over the course of 13 days of exposure.

On a skydive, the plane ride to an altitude only lasts about 15 minutes – so effects of this altitude exposure is likely to be minimal.

Heat in Pregnancy

Core body temperatures above 103 degrees Fahrenheit are known to affect neural-tube development and increase the risk of fetal abnormalities. Pregnant people should stay cool and hydrated, and minimize any strenuous exercise in the heat.

In terms of skydiving and heat – it can get pretty spicy. And the temperature inside the jump planes can get even hotter. 

Skydiving While Pregnant in the First Trimester

Skydiving while pregnant in the first trimester could potentially have lower risks of fetal injury. At around 12 weeks, the pelvis no longer completely protects the uterus, and the risk of fetal injury increases. Some doctors recommend limiting all high-intensity exercises right around 20 weeks.

The decision to go skydiving while pregnant is a very personal one and a sensitive subject, indeed. We recommend having an honest conversation with your doctor and your family before making your decision.

Have more questions about skydiving while pregnant? Contact the dropzone. Blue skies!

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

Best place to skydive in Michigan hands down!! Super friendly and knowledgeable staff make you feel special, comfortable and safe. Our first tandem experience was incredible!!! Definitely coming back soon and recommend friends to go here!!!

Erik Chovan