pregnancy and indoor shooting range


December 26, 2006, 09:57 PM
I got a new .22 and tried it out for about an hour in an indoor shooting range. I'm 32 weeks pregnant. This was my first time in an indoor shooting range and I was ignorant of the potential risks to pregnant women. I called my OB/GYN and she said I had nothing to worry to about--the sound was muffled by my heavy clothes, tissue, muscle, etc. I didn't ask about lead exposure. I've asked several other people: their answers range from no worries to you better moniter the growth of your fetus. I'm wondering if women here have had any experience shooting in an indoor range and pregnancy. I'm really very worried that I did damage to either my little one's ears or exposed her to dangerous levels of lead in that one hour. Help!

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December 26, 2006, 10:01 PM
I would be much more worried about the lead exposure than the noise levels. Is it really worth even the slighest risk? Just take a bit of a hiatus and use that time to stock up on ammunition for a good celibration after the baby is born.

I seriously doubt you did any harm with just one trip (not any worse than eating a can of tuna). But I wouldn't make a habit of going to the range while pregnant

Welcome to THR!

December 26, 2006, 10:22 PM
I doubt very seriously if an hour at the range would harm your baby, so don't waste anxiety on that. Just don't do it again!!! If you must, use an outdoor range.

I'm rather surprised that the employees at the range would have let you go in there. Did they ever once question you going in?:confused:

December 26, 2006, 10:43 PM
I am not so sure your gynecologist gave good advice. Generally they will tell patients to avoid shooting while pregnant because it can cause problems with hearing. Remember, sound is transmitted better through water (amniotic fluid in this case) than air. As for the lead exposure, I think it would be minimal with only one hour of time there.

Dysfunctional Individual
December 26, 2006, 10:44 PM
I would imagine that the sound of others' firearms would be diminished enough by tissue and amniotic fluid, but I don't know about your gun. Sound travels much better through liquids and solids, so direct contact of the gun and your body could potentially aggravate the problem. Then again, if it's only a .22, it might not be a big deal.

December 26, 2006, 10:46 PM
A fetus can hear at least for the last two months. More significant is lead .DON'T take the risk, it isn't worth it !!

December 26, 2006, 10:48 PM
Congrats on the baby!

December 26, 2006, 10:52 PM
1. Congrats on being 32 weeks pregnant
2. Lead exposure for you and the child at this point and any point in the pregnancy is bad m'kay
3. Sound also bad but probably muffled for the most part.

Prince Yamato
December 26, 2006, 10:52 PM
I think the risk comes more from touching leaded bullets and then licking your hands afterwords. The precautions you read on boxes are for manufacturers liability purposes. I wouldn't lose any sleep. Remember, women gave birth to perfectly healthy babies living in warzones or heck, living in homes with lead paint on the walls for the past 100 or so years. The only harm comes, when you ingest it in vast quantities (or, in the case of children, quantities large enough to effect them). To play it safe though, I'd avoid a gun range while pregnant. I don't know what sound pressure levels could do to your condition. Plus, what if someone had a ND and the bullet went your direction?

December 26, 2006, 10:56 PM
I think indoor ranges have pretty stringent OSHA regulations as far as ventilation and lead exposure go. And a .22 doesn't generate that much noise and concussion. But now that you've tried out your new .22 (what is it?) take it easy.

Congratulations on your new family member. We're 'expecting' our first grandchild in March. Mrs G says she's too pretty to be a grandmother - no argument from me.

December 26, 2006, 11:01 PM
All good advise, don't worry about the past. Think happy thoughts.
You will have a healthy baby. "But no more shooting untill you do."
Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! and God Bless you and your new one.

December 26, 2006, 11:19 PM
The sound isn't muffled by the tissue and amnion. If anything it's a bit louder since water transmits sound better than air does.

The lead danger isn't just from handling RNL bullets. Some is vaporized when the bullet is fired. Most primers contain nasty heavy metals. And even if you're using CleanFire not everyone else at the range is. OSHA funding for enforcement has been cut to the bone, and the EPA is relaxing airborne lead standards. I've been at plenty of ranges where you could taste the sweetness of lead in the air. I got out as quickly as possible.

It's just for a few weeks. You'd probably be better off not exposing your baby to the risks.

December 26, 2006, 11:33 PM
eat well, take your *prenatal* vitamins, limit caffeine,... drink lots of water, wash your hands often, avoid too much sun, avoid raw eggs/fish/meat/cheese, avoid domestic violence, avoid excessive worrying/sleep well, read a good book on how to have a healthy baby. don't do illegal drugs, especially cocaine, :)
disclaimer= I'm not an MD, but these seem like the important things to me

December 26, 2006, 11:42 PM
The sound isn't muffled by the tissue and amnion. If anything it's a bit louder since water transmits sound better than air does.

People should try this experiment -- though I would wait until summer. Go to a pool and dive under water, and hold your breath. Have a friend replicate a gunshot, or make a loud, sudden noise.
I think you will find that while you might hear it, it will be considerably muffled.
Tellner is right that water transmits sound better than air, but he's forgetting that the gunshots come from outside. In the pool example, much of the sound will reflect off the surface of the water. A fetus might hear, but much of what it hears will be body noises. It will hear it's mother's voice because that voice starts inside the body and will be transmited largely though body tissues and the circulatory system.
Loud external sounds, like gunshots, will be largely reflected. Not all, of course, but I doubt one exposure will bother the fetus.
Yeah ... worry more about the lead exposure.

December 26, 2006, 11:43 PM
Congrats on the kid!

Being a temporary situation, and the issues not being well understood, and having good arguments on both sides, I'd say just stay away from lead and excessively loud noises for the time being.

Sounds like a good time to explore lead-free ammo, subsonics, and silencers. If nothing else, a good excuse to do so.

December 26, 2006, 11:44 PM
Pistol packin' mama!!!

Take a break from the range for now until the little one is born.

Make sure you teach your baby the 4 rules! Welcome.

December 27, 2006, 12:15 AM
If you must go avoid the indoor range and opt for an outdoor one, you'll have lower lead and other chemical exposure, also make sure your ammo doesn't have any exposed lead and make sure you wash your hands well.

Our indoor range will not allow a pregnant woman to shoot at their range.

Just like cell phones no one can really say for sure it is harmful but no one can say it isn't either. People can speculate on the effect of sound but no one hear really knows.

Risks can be managed, the best way to manage them in this case is probably to avoid it completely for a few more weeks and do lots of dry fire, you'll save money and be a better shot when you do get to go :D.

December 27, 2006, 03:10 AM
As I was beated to it, it's good time to get the silencer (if only it wouldn't take much longer than a simple trip to store, like in Finland), this would keep the baby's ears safe&sound.

Zach S
December 27, 2006, 07:33 AM
I wouldn't worry about that hour too much, but you shouldnt be shooting, mainly because of lead exposure. Keep this in mind even after the baby is born and nursing (if you chose to breastfeed).

You would be better off asking your doctor what harm could have been done, he could (hopefully) answer that better than all of us. Ask about lead exposure specificly.

As far as noise goes, indoor ranges are the worst, since the noise is confined.

Anyway, congrats on the inbound little one. My first is due June 22, we're hoping to find out if its a girl or boy next friday.

December 27, 2006, 10:48 AM
I would be more concerned with handling ammunition and not washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Also, use jacketed ammo. If airborne lead is a concern, avoid the range when it is busy. I am sure the owner could let you know the best times. Make sure you wash your hands though even after messing with ammo at home.

I am by no means an expert. I do remember having black residue in my phlegm and nose after visiting the range during busy hours. Not fun to think about. I can't imagine it being worse than smoking or other stuff though.

December 27, 2006, 01:54 PM
Thanks, everyone, for all the responses! I appreciate all the help. I didn't touch the spent bullets that much (I'm too big to bend over comfortably to pick them up), my nose didn't turn black, and I always wash my hands, but I still will not go in an indoor range again whilst pregnant or breast feeding, just to be safe. It would be sad that I stopped skydiving to protect my little one only to hurt her out of ignorance of another sport I thought would be safer. I am surprised that the employees at the range didn't at least caution me! I spent quite awhile talking to them about my gun and when I asked if I could try out my gun, they said I could try it out in their indoor range and handed me goggles and ear protection. I am a rather thin person, but my belly is huge. They couldn't have missed the fact that I am pregnant! Now I know some of the potential risks.

Thanks again. I'll let you know how everything turns out with the little one!

p.s. I got a Walther P22. It's the very first gun I own myself. Now I just have to wait to use it. . . .

December 27, 2006, 02:11 PM
I was building my house while my wife was 8 months pregnant and she would often come and "supervise".......

our daughter in the womb would DEFINATELY RESPOND via. sudden kicks and movement, when I fired the pneumatic nailer.

The nail gun is probably louder than a .22, but not as loud as a rifle or pistol.

She left the area whenever I was nailing after that......

I'm no doctor, but based on this experience, I'd recommend that you stay away from loud noises while pregnant.

December 27, 2006, 02:15 PM
Probably been said, but pretty much every doctor i've spoken to says it's a bad idea to be around extremely loud noises during pregnancy as the baby is extremely susceptible to loud exterior noises while in the womb.

December 27, 2006, 03:45 PM
My wife is a genetic counselor, and works with patients exposed to teratogens. I'll ask her about lead exposure. The noise would be an issue, but the deed is done.

December 27, 2006, 04:46 PM
Congratulations Skyflier. My wife and I pray that you will have an easy delivery and a healthy baby.

Just out of curiosity have you decided to use a parachute for a receiving blanket, and will you be naming her "Annie"? :)

December 27, 2006, 05:38 PM
OK. Wife says lead is not an issue unless Mom has lead poisoning. Unless you ate lead, you're gonna be OK, especially from just one outing.

Noise . . . there's no data on noise and its effects on unborns. Women come to see her who work in loud factories, and share the same concern. She tells them, if you don't have to do a risky activity when pregnant, avoid doing it.

Your one hour outing likely had no effect.

December 28, 2006, 12:54 AM
you have the range to yourselves, please do not engage in activities likely to distract other people with guns.


December 28, 2006, 12:58 AM
Thanks for checking on this for me. You don't know how much it helps ease my mind. I appreciate it! Really, this has been the most helpful and informative forum.
December 28, 2006, 01:20 AM
Good luck!

Having gone through the experience as a bystander I'm constantly amazed at how fear mongering many folks are about prenatal care yet those same folks will act as though every difficulty you face as a parent from that point on is "just a phase".
I figure that if a person can't tell me the ratio of similac to water they've forgotten just how viceral the experience of parenting is (perhaps their advice would be more cheritable if they did).

I think it's great that you're looking for your own answers to be a good parent. Welcome to THR, I hope you enjoy our rowdy mix!

December 28, 2006, 01:32 AM
I have to echo Tommygunn, all my experience tells me that noises coming from outside water are greatly muffled inside it. That said, it almost certainly won't hurt to avoid shooting, while it might hurt to do it.

December 28, 2006, 07:35 AM
One trip to a indoor range and length of time spent there is nothing to worry about. My wife shoot a little bit while she was expecting with our son. It was all outdoors and I loaded the mags for her and used D-lead wipes to clean her hands immediately after she finished. Hygeine is the biggest factor in reducing lead exposure. Wash thoroughly and no eating or drinking until you do so. You (the collective you) are constantly being exposed to lead everyday in things you would think should not have lead at all. I ran a few spot checks around the house (I'm a scientist;) ) and found detectable amounts of lead in 3 cups my wife was using, several electrical devices, and a few plastic toys given to us for the kiddo'. As for sound, I highly doubt any injury from such a short range session. Bottom line has to do with real vs perceived risk. The real risk is to you and you baby was the car ride to the range. Much more likely something bad will happen in the car than at the range. You can have your OB or family doc give you a quick lead check if you are concerned, but if it is high mostly likely it was high befor your range session. Congrats on the little one, they are great :D

December 28, 2006, 08:37 AM
Well I can tell you that the first time I took my wife shooting, she was pregnant. Somewhere around 25-30 weeks. And our son has no problems whatsoever thus far.

This is something they don't really teach in medical school. Many physicians aren't familiar with the risks b/c they're completely ignorant about shooting. So unless you find an OB/GYN who's encountered the situation before, you're not likely to get a great answer.

The risks, as you mentioned, would be lead exposure and possibly noise. If the range is well ventillated (as it should be), then that should minimize your risk from lead. Also, wash your hands after shooting to remove any lead residue.

The noise factor would be difficult to assess in terms of its effect on your baby. Sound travels much faster under water, but when the sound originates outside the water, it's muffled by the interface of the air & water. For example, if someone yells at you from above the surface while you're under water, it sounds muffled & quieter. On the other hand, if you scuba dive and someone taps a diving knife on his/her tank, it's a crisp, loud sound that travels so fast it's difficult to figure out where it's originating.

If you're at all worried, just don't go to the range much until you deliver. Less frequent trips will minimize risk.

December 28, 2006, 09:59 AM
First off, Congratulations on the baby!
The only thing I can add, is that I went to the indoor range at least 2 times a week the whole time I was pregnant. I was even going to go the day I delivered Audrey. But she decided that it was time to be born. So I had to skip out on that day.:D
She was born healthy and happy. And turned 2 years old on Dec 22.:)
I wouldn't worry too much. Just be sure to wash your hands really good just as soon as you finish shooting. And of course be sure to not take any food or drink with you into the range. And get someone else to do the gun cleaning or be sure to wear gloves. Those are just a couple of the things I did while I was pregnant. (And I still do them.) Just use some common sense and you should be just fine.Best of luck to you. :)

December 28, 2006, 09:34 PM
to my fellow THR colleagues,
it is easy to find opinions;
wisdom is harder to come by.

i thought i learned my lesson previously. [right, Pax?]
suffice it to say that i am indeed an OB/GYN (no, really)
(my contact info is below, feel free to verify).
and a shooter--
i have other creds as well, but i doubt they make any difference...

as Juna points out

This is something they don't really teach in medical school. Many physicians aren't familiar with the risks b/c they're completely ignorant about shooting. So unless you find an OB/GYN who's encountered the situation before, you're not likely to get a great answer.

The risks, as you mentioned, would be lead exposure and possibly noise.

i have encountered the situation of pregnant women shooting many times before.
and i must be able to assess risk to the mom & fetus; its what i do

many physicians are ignorant about guns and shooting: true.
most physicians have little interest or training in teratogenics: true
(they have little use for the information;
except OB/GYNs who must asses risks for moms -teratogenic or otherwise-).
many physicians 'err on the side of caution' and recommend against
possibly situations of which they have little knowledge or understanding:
true, and correctly so.

ionized lead in large quantities is teratogenic, especially if ingested.
shooters ALREADY have lead in their systems; stable & unionized, mostly bound to bone.
lead is not cleared if a prenant woman stop shooting for, say, 9 months.
with normal precautions (hand washing, etc) the incremental increase in
exposure to lead from shooting and the resultant risk is infinitesimal.
(so pregnant moms can shoot from the lead risk perspective.
however, prenant moms can also certainly shoot 'green' lead free ammo
and forgo ANY risk and contraversy in that regard)

though sound is well transmitted through water or air,
it is not amplified in water but dissapates just like in air.
sound, however is VERY POORLY transmitted across interfaces of differing materials.
hence, the sound recieved by the fetus is not at a level near that
of the shooter. (i have used the swimming pool analogy which TommyGun cites many times.
i usually use a hot tub with the jets on...bear in mind, too, that the uterine environment is not silent.)

further there are many exponentially louder environments wherein
pregnant women are exposed to prolonged high sound pressure levels
(stamping plants, baggage/cargo loading on airport tarmac)
so since women can work in the factory or on the tarmac with only
ear protection for themselves and no prohibition from OHSA or
other safety authorities, it is safe for women to shoot from the noise perspective.

The thread in which I previously posted on this topic at length is:

I would be happy to e-corresond or speak to you by phone to address any of your fears and concerns.



Peter L. Stevenson, MD FACOG
Assoc Clinical Professor
Wayne State University
School of Medicine
Detroit, Michigan

313.278.3900 (office)

"Always willing to assist in the defense of the righteous against the loud."
Jim Simmons, Esq

December 28, 2006, 09:53 PM
^ there we go, great post. The short of it-
1. Shooters already have lead in their systems. It doesn't clear well. The lead that was in your system from before you got pregnant is still there, so whatever tiny amount you added made no difference.

2. Sound travels well across water, but it transfers between differing materials extremely poorly, so it would be very muffled for your baby. Only if the sound orginated in water is it a concern, when it needs to be transferred by the air into water it is greatly muffled so the sound was much quieter for your baby than you.

December 28, 2006, 11:04 PM
I wish my mother would have taken me to the range like you did. I would probly score a little better from the experence. In the small town i live in the city crew still finds lead water lines going into homes. yes pure lead. it holds up much better in frost than other materials from its day.
My 6 year old grandson know witch deer stand is his, I built it when his mother was 7-month, she loves to shoot, and so dose that little rascal.
Someone should ask me about my daughters 1st deer, (the shot she made)


December 30, 2006, 07:42 PM
Unfortunately, the effects of gunshot reports on developing foetuses have not been studied.

In utero lead exposure, however, has been researched-- and the conclusions aren't pleasant. Should you decide to go shooting while pregnant, be sure to wear a respirator and wash thoroughly after eash session.

There is no safe lead threshold for children. Any exposure dramatically increases the risks of cognitive or developmental disorders arising later in childhood.

December 30, 2006, 08:57 PM
Congrads on the baby!

It sounds like you only have another month left or so, if it was my wife I would ask her (borderline demand) not to shoot until the baby is born. For all the right reasons, one month of not shooting is certainly worth a healthy baby.

Wait it out your almost there! :D

Dave R
December 30, 2006, 09:23 PM
I hate to add controversial comments, but the indoor range I go to (Impact Guns) doesn't allow pregnant women in the range. Probably just a paranoid lawyer, but its a data point I thought you'd want.

December 30, 2006, 10:39 PM
Yeah. I'm not going to do it again! I had never been to an indoor range before, so I was a little unsure what to expect. But I wish the range owners would have cautioned me or had signs listing the rules of the range, including cautions to pregnant women. I figured the sound would be muffled and didn't even think about the lead. After reading more about it on the web and reading that several ranges don't allow pregnant women, I started to question how safe it really was. It probably is ok, but I don't know for sure.

After reading other research and talking to a bunch of people and seeing my doctor yesterday, I doubt I did any damage, but to be on the safe side, I think I will wait to go backto the range!

Thanks again for all the help.

December 30, 2006, 11:56 PM
Here is my somewhat educated position on a pregnant woman in an INDOOR range. I too am a physician but my area of practice is sports medicine/orthopedics.

My concerns are about possible toxicity from lead vapors both for the mother and especially for the developing fetus. If you were my patient or my relative I would strongly advise against shooting/being in an INDOOR range until you have delivered AND finished breast feeding. Lead toxicity is rather serious.

The noise issue is not so much of a concern (unless) possibly from a high caliber in a confined space.

The risks associated with lead toxicity or noise are much smaller if shooting outdoors.

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