Preparing yourself for a crisis situation is good practice, both for women in law enforcement and for the average civilian. Whether you work with firearms or not, pregnant women want the ability to protect that which is most important to them.

A pregnancy is one of the greatest experiences of our lives, compelling us to seek out safety for ourselves and our children. So naturally, it’s important to make sure we’re keeping our child safe in all circumstances.

When we want the best protection, we naturally consider our skills with firearms and for most of us, well, we could use some practice! But before we throw on the ammo belt and combat boots let us consider what pregnant women should know before stepping into the range.

Using firearms means being exposed to elements which can be harmful to ourselves and therefore the unborn child. Lead and noise exposure are the two primary factors we need to prepare for when considering the safety of the unborn child.


The noise produced by firearms is very loud. It is important to wear a type of ear protection to protect the sensitive tissues within our own ears. If you don’t have earplugs simply covering your ears can reduce sound if someone else is shooting a gun.

For our unborn child, covering them up is the best course of action to reducing noise exposure. Wrapping your abdomen with a dense or heavy clothing can act as an ear muff and will help reduce noise exposure to your child.

Similar to lead exposure, using an outdoor shooting range is optimal for mitigating noise exposure. An outdoor shooting range helps disperse the sound of a gun. So it is naturally preferred by expecting mothers rather than an indoor range where exposure is more concentrated.

Another solution to reducing exposure is to choose a time at the shooting range when there are fewer people using their firearms. Nearby shooters can produce the same volume of noise that is harmful to your child.

There were studies done on sheep and how it affects the babies inside them. They showed a lower function in lambs born to mothers who were subjected to constant and loud sounds. This showed that loud chronic noises are dangerous to your unborn baby.

Silencers, although not so easy to get, would be effective at reducing the noise experienced by the fetus. Wearing heavy clothing around the torso is a more realistic solution to reducing the noise and protecting your baby.

Lead and harmful chemicals

Humans are sensitive to lead, especially in the womb. Using firearms exposes us to lead and other harmful chemicals. We all know that after a day at the shooting range, it’s important to rid our hands, clothes and bodies of any lead residue.

Lead can cause severe issues to a fetus even at low levels. Some problems lead can cause are: decreased head circumference, child behavioral issues, premature delivery and even miscarriage.

First, lets focus on why we make contact with lead and other dangerous chemicals when using firearms. Ammunition often contains lead bullets or lead primers.

When someone fires a round out of a gun they are causing a tiny explosion, releasing tiny lead particles into the air which make contact with your body and clothing. Sweeping up spent ammunition stirs up all the lead that has fallen to the floor, increasing risk of inhalation.

When you clean your weapon after use you must be very careful because gun cleaning solvents contain copper, arsenic and barium, heavy metals and chemicals you do not want to expose to you or your baby.

To decrease lead exposure it is recommended that pregnant women use lead free ammo and lead free primers. If lead free ammunition is not possible, then wearing a respirator or mask will help prevent inhalation.

To further prevent inhalation and body contact with lead, much like reducing noise, it is recommended to fire as few rounds as possible and to use an outdoor range at a time when there are the least amount of other shooters. The outdoor range is better because air flow allows lead particles to scatter in the wind instead of being contained indoors.

It is also important not to eat or drink while using firearms to avoid food contamination. In fact, when you are done shooting it is best to vigorously wash your hands (a shower may be more appropriate), change your clothes and avoid eating or drinking for an hour afterwards. Again, covering your abdomen will always help reduce unwanted exposure to your unborn child.

After your baby is born

The baby has been born, but guess what? Birth is not the green light to get to the range and let loose.

Breastfeeding requires that you maintain the same attention to what goes into your body as you did when you were pregnant because lead can contaminate your breastmilk and pass on to your infant while feeding.

Again, cleaning firearms exposes you to chemicals besides lead such as cleaning solvents and heavy metals like barium, copper and arsenic which you do not want to pass on to your infant.

It’s also important to begin locking up your weapons.  Get into the habit of keeping your guns secure, so when your child grows up, they cannot get access to any firearms.


The best way to keep you and your child safe is to understand where the dangers are and how to mitigate them. Limiting exposure is the surest way to minimize dangers of noise and lead to you and your baby.

My recommendation is to avoid shooting while pregnant. But, in some cases due to your occupation, you may be required to shoot.

If you must practice using firearms try simulators such as FATS virtual simulators, electronic dry firing marksmanship training devices like LaserLyte, and Airmunition, a product which offers a much safer shooting experience by incorporating air cartridges instead of traditional metal (often lead based) ammunitions.

To protect you and your baby there are certain foods which will help keep your body clean. Foods high in calcium such as milk, cheese and leafy vegetables are a great choice. Iron and vitamin C are great vitamins as well. You can get It is important to remember that pregnancy is temporary so it is best to not overly endanger you and your baby.

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Leave a Comment:

Maria says December 13, 2016

Thank you so much for your excellent insight into the dangers of lead- and chemical poisoning while handling firearms. I was not aware of the implications. Thanks for the link to “Hunting with Non- Lead”. The thought of having to wear a respirator and mask while heavily pregnant is somewhat daunting. I guess, I would stick with your recommendation to avoid shooting while pregnant is the best solution. Again, thanks for a very informative article.

Roch says December 16, 2016

Very informative article. Sometimes we can forget that babies are so much more fragile than adults and what they can actually tolerate. Some great practical tips in there to think about. Thanks for sharing.

GB says January 19, 2017

Great information! The affects of noise and even a small amount of lead on the unborn is something I wouldn’t have given any consideration to had I not come across your website. I will definitely share with as many people as I can. Thanks!

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