If you are used to shooting guns recreationally but have recently become pregnant or are thinking about getting pregnant, you may be wondering how pregnancy might impact your ability to shoot.
After all, shooting is a sport that requires a lot of practice, so being out of the game for up to 9 months is not a decision serious shooters take lightly.
Many people worry about the potential safety implications of shooting guns during pregnancy, but are these concerns legitimate or unfounded?
I’ll be answering that question in this article and offering some tips for continuing to shoot safely while pregnant if you choose to do so.
Can You Shoot While Pregnant?
First of all, let’s get the big question out of the way: is it a good idea to shoot guns while pregnant?
There are 2 primary concerns related to shooting during pregnancy, which are noise and lead exposure.
Exposure to lead, which is found in the residue of gunpowder and can be easily inhaled, has been shown to be dangerous to human health. Once the lead enters your system, it can pass on to your unborn child.
Research has shown that lead exposure during pregnancy is correlated with lower birth weights. This, in turn, correlates with instances of miscarriage, preeclampsia, and premature birth.
Because it isn’t yet known what the safe limit for lead exposure is for unborn babies, this is definitely a concern.
Shooting also exposes you and your unborn child to a lot of noise. What many people don’t know is that noise exposure can lead to similar consequences as lead exposure in babies, including low birth weights and premature delivery.
Additionally, babies who are exposed to more than 80 dB for 8 hours per day have been shown to be at an increased risk of hearing loss. For context, the average gunshot is 140 dB.
As you can see, there are valid reasons to be concerned about the impact shooting guns might have on your unborn baby while you’re pregnant.
However, as I will explain in the next section, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hang up your gun for the entirety of your pregnancy.
Safety Precautions For Shooting During Pregnancy
Being pregnant doesn’t automatically mean you have to stop shooting for the duration of your pregnancy. However, due to the concerns outlined above, it’s best to take extra care if you want to keep shooting while pregnant.
To keep yourself and your baby safe on the range while you’re pregnant, you should commit to the following safety precautions:
1. Speak To Your Doctor
Before you decide to keep shooting during your pregnancy, please consult your doctor. They will be able to do a thorough physical examination to ensure that you and your baby are in good enough health to withstand the potential risks posed by the gun range.
Your doctor may also be able to give you some helpful advice about shooting safely during pregnancy in addition to the tips you’ll find in this article.
2. Use A Suppressor
If it is legal to use a suppressor on a firearm in your state, you should consider using one to minimize noise exposure and prevent gunpowder from blowing back in your face while shooting.
Using a suppressor reduces the risk of your baby being harmed by excessive noise levels and lead exposure, so please consider using this method if it won’t get you in trouble with the law.
3. Choose Lead-Free Ammo
Where possible, try to use lead-free ammunition. This will significantly reduce the amount of lead that both you and your baby are exposed to as a result of shooting guns.
4. Wear Protective Gear
Ideally, when you’re pregnant, you should wear as much protective gear as you can. After all, you can never be too careful when it comes to your baby’s health and safety.
You should wear a mask on the range to reduce the amount of lead that you inhale. Gloves are also a good idea to prevent lead from getting onto the exposed skin of your hands.
5. Don’t Collect Your Casings
Speaking of your hands, don’t pick up your casings after shooting. If possible, have somebody else do this for you so that you don’t expose yourself to more lead.
If you don’t have someone to pick up casings for you, please let a member of staff know as leftover casings can be a slipping hazard.
6. Wash After Shooting
As soon as you can after shooting, remove your clothes and put them in to wash separately from other items.
Then, have a thorough shower, making sure to wash your hair as well. If possible, try to wash with cool water rather than hot since hot water opens up your pores and can get more gunpowder residue (lead) into your skin.
7. Don’t Clean Your Firearm Yourself
To avoid exposing yourself to lead after shooting, ask (or pay) somebody else to clean your firearm for you.
8. Consider Stopping For The 3rd Trimester
Some medical professionals recommend stopping shooting during the 3rd trimester to reduce the risk of premature birth.
This means you don’t have to stop shooting for the whole 9 months but can still keep your baby safe and healthy during a critical time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Shoot Guns While Breastfeeding?
If you plan to shoot while breastfeeding, always wash your entire body thoroughly after shooting before you breastfeed your baby.
While there is no scientific proof that inhaled lead can pass to your baby through breast milk in dangerous amounts, you should still wear a mask while shooting to be safe.
Can I Shoot At An Indoor Range While Pregnant?
Stick to outdoor ranges if you’re shooting while pregnant. Indoor ranges will increase the concentration of lead that you inhale, meaning that your baby will be exposed to more lead.
Can I Hunt During Pregnancy?
If you choose to hunt while pregnant, please do so safely and don’t exert yourself significantly more than you did before your pregnancy. Also, use lead-free ammunition to avoid food contamination.
There are risks associated with shooting while pregnant, mainly lead exposure and noise exposure, which can lead to complications ranging from hearing loss to premature birth.
If you decide to keep shooting during your pregnancy, use a suppressor (if allowed in your state), wear protective gear, use lead-free ammunition, avoid handling anything contaminated by lead, and wash thoroughly as soon as possible afterward.