Can you shoot a gun while you’re pregnant? It’s probably not a question many of us think about, but is something we need to be more aware of.
Whether you shoot for fun or for protection, it’s a valuable skill to many of us here in North Dakota.
So waiting a whole 9 months to pull that trigger again might not seem very realistic.
I talked to a OBGYN and asked her that question. She told me there really is no simple yes or no answer.
OBGYN At Mid Dakota Clinic, Dr. Heather Sandness Nelson says, “Shooting while pregnant can be safe if its done properly.”
The two largest risks we found in our research was the affect of the loud sound a gun produces.
And the potential for lead poisoning.  
During the 2nd trimester of pregnancy a baby will have developed their full hearing creating a potential risk for hearing loss.
“Relative cut off is around 80 to 75 to 85 decibels. Studies that looked at exposure higher to that found that their could be hearing loss in the baby after delivery. Generally exposure less than that are less risk, there’s never a no risk but there’s less risk,” says Dr. Sandness Nelson. 
She tells me the average shot gun can produce anywhere from a 140 to 180 decibels. However, she adds that still doesn’t mean pregnant women couldn’t shoot a shot gun.
“That being said we are talking about chronic exposure, like when we talk about that occupational exposure we are talking about 8 hour shifts chronic exposure, not intermittent exposure.”
Studies show women that were exposed to a continuous loud noise at 80 decibels daily for 8 hours had babies that  were born with hearing loss, decreased birth weight, and even suffered a risk of early birth.
Chronic exposure to guns could also increase lead toxicity for your child.
“If you want to wear gloves if you want to clean your hands or your gun or have someone else clean it for you while your pregnant or nursing because lead can cross the placenta and get into breast milk,” says Dr. Sandness Nelson. 
Doctors still don’t know what is a safe amount of exposure to lead is for children.

Dr. Sandness Nelson says she’s is no stranger to guns and even grew up working on her father’s gun range.
We asked him if pregnant women ever come in to shoot.
“I wouldn’t say a lot but you do see a few people that come in when they are pregnant and come out and shoot, yes,” says Mark Sandness, says father and owner of Capital City Sporting Clays.
He says the most important thing he does is makes sure they have talked to their doctor first.
But there is one problem he sees in women that are pregnant.
“The more they advance in the pregnancy their face and their body gains weight which throws off their normal shotgun fit,” says Sandness. 
He says while he will never know what it feels like to shoot a gun when you’re pregnant–he showed me some things women can do to help their stance if they decide to use a gun.
“An average shooter will have that stance forward like the Leaning Tower of Pisa,” says Sandness. “Where pregnant women will be counteracting that body. What they want to do is keep that weight and their shoulders in front of their hips which is going to be a little bit difficult to do which is what I am trying to remind them. Because when they are shooting like this during the year that weight is going to change and its going to bring their heads up.”
Dr. Sandness Nelson says no matter what research or studies you read to always just talk to your physician before you go out to shoot.