9 months ago we found out we were expecting a baby. After a roller coaster of a year with the pandemic, unable to meet our families in Spain, we were blessed with such great news and we were so grateful to embark this journey of pregnancy together once more.
Being pregnant and practicing clay shooting rose a number of questions that I could simply not find answers to, neither online or speaking with doctors and midwives in Sweden and the biggest question of them all was: How safe is it to shoot while pregnant?
I spoke with lots of friends and read different stories online of women who said they continued hunting and shooting throughout their pregnancies, but none of these testimonials made me feel quite confident about shooting during this new period of my life, so I decided to share all the research I did, seeing as though this is a big taboo.
Pregnant women are a very controversial part of the population when it comes to research and science: not too many corporations and doctors dare to do research with them because not too many women are up for putting their babies at risk.
The lack of research, and the fact that a lot of men don't know what women have to go through when we practice shooting but then get pregnant made me write this post. It is hard to give up to your favourite sport and your favourite foods, and your favourite clothes, and well, the list goes on and on but concerning this topic, I think it is a good way of raising awareness of this topic in this small community of hunters and huntresses, and shooters in general.
Even though a baby is a blessing, it also meant that I might have to give up on shooting for a long period of time, which means that all my training, and all the efforts I had been doing to improve in the last year or so would have been somehow in vane (but let me repeat this: always for an incredibly great cause which is creating life!!).
On the other hand, I was also facing the dilemma of sharing my pregnancy through instagram, but that is a story for another time– I might talk about it in a separate video or blog post if people request it and explain why I decided not to share it.
Before talking about the different stages of my research, I will start off by explaining that in Sweden, it is your midwife who is responsible of your monthly check ups as well as the delivery– here we only meet the doctor when there is a problem.
As soon as I got my first appointment, I asked my midwife if I could continue shooting and this was her answer– which as you can see, left me a bit astonished:
After reading her reply, I insisted and asked her to speak with the clinic's doctor because I was really keen on continuing with my shooting but I obviously didn't want to take any risks, and this was her reply, which made me realise nobody had a clue, and there was barely any scientific research on this matter:
On a side note, I am not criticising her whatsoever, I genuinely believe I would have gotten the same reply from any other midwife here because it is a strange topic to discuss as not many women shoot.
As you can imagine, I felt a bit lonely in this aspect, because nobody dared to give me advise due to the lack of research on shooting & pregnancy.
As my pregnancy continued, during the hunting season, Henry and I were invited to a beautiful hunting estate here in Sweden for a pheasant shoot and since it would be my first time, I was very keen on going, but I still had the dilemma of going there and risking my baby's health for a few shots, so I began my research quite throughly:
I started off by asking my friends and some of them advised me to stop shooting because of 3 things that could lead to miscarriage or health problems that the baby could develop:
Vibrations/Expansive or shock wave from each shot breaking through the placenta
Other friends of mine told me they had gone hunting several times while pregnant and their babies were born completely fine.
These 2 different opinions confused me even more, so I decided to call 1177 in Sweden, which is the number you call when you have a medical or a health question, and they literally told me they had no idea. In addition to that, they could not make any recommendation wether I should continue shooting or not, so it was completely up to me– I wish I had recorded the conversation!
This made me continue my research on Google and I found myself amidst an ocean of articles which in the end didn't answer my question really.
Some said babies don't hear until week 21, so even if the high decibel noise could harm the baby, this meant I could probably still shoot until week 21 just because they start listening to some extent after their hearing is developed during week 21.
Other articles said it was recommended to stop shooting because even though the sound is quite strong when we shoot, babies are protected to some extent thanks to the placenta, but the risks of Lead poisoning and the vibrations from the shockwave each time you shoot, were too high– since the placenta is full of liquid, the vibrations here could be stronger. But again, there were lots of different opinions on this.
An example of the type of articles I came across are these– so you can judge for yourselves:
and then this one from shootinguk.co:
So there you have it, 2 articles with different opinions from doctors. What to do? Well, if you find yourself in my situation or if you are thinking of getting pregnant, you will have to make the decision of taking a risk that could affect your child for the rest of his life, or you could just stop shooting for a long period of time but be at ease with yourself, because you are not taking any risks.
To me the answer was very simple. Even though I love shooting and you all know how passionate I am about it, I value my family above anything else, so I would never ever risk any of my children's lives just because I want to shoot.
Always ask your doctor and do research if you don't know what to do, but if you want to know my opinion, you should stop shooting, just because the risks even though they can be small, are there, and to stop shooting is just a small sacrifice you'll have to do, but believe me, the moment you hold your baby in your arms... you will forget about shooting and any other sacrifice you have made during pregnancy, because kids are the most rewarding gift in life.
... and when they grow older... they will most probably go shooting with you, so it is worth it!!
All the best,