When I was about 5 months pregnant, my husband and I were offered the chance to go to Disneyland with our friends. It would be my first time at Disneyland (although I had been to Disney World before), and it would be my husband’s first Disney experience ever (crazy, I know). Our friends were Disneyland regulars and had plenty of FastPasses to go around. Needless to say, we were pretty excited. However, as soon as we entered the park, the group made a beeline to Space Mountain, arguably the best ride in the park, and I was quickly reminded of yet another thing I was supposed to avoid during pregnancy. Wine. Deli turkey. Soft cheeses. And now Space Mountain.
I wasn’t surprised, of course; I knew this was coming. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed. Then I started thinking about which rides I could ride that day. It’s a Small World, obviously, was at the top of the list, so we started there. Then I got distracted by the churro cart and forgot all about Space Mountain. Kidding aside, there are so many attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure Park that I really didn’t miss much. And they’re pretty good about posting warnings and advisories on the signs at the ride entrance, so there’s no guessing about which ones are safe.
So, why do pregnant women need to avoid roller coasters and amusement park rides? If you have done any searching online or have spoken with your doctor(s) about this, the recommendation is clear – don’t do it. But the “why” is less documented.
It may seem intuitive that anything jarring or involving sudden starts and stops (like amusement park rides) might be dangerous to mom and/or baby. Apparently, these types of movement may put a pregnant woman at risk for something called placental abruption. 1 This is when the placenta separates from the uterus too early (before birth), which is harmful to both baby and mother. But, again, not much is known about amusement park rides specifically. I visited my usual sources of medical evidence online, and I found very little information specific to pregnant women and rides. This is not surprising, since I doubt anyone would or should take the chance of putting pregnant women and unborn babies in harm’s way by conducting a study on it. Most of what doctors know and recommend about this is extrapolated from car accidents – meaning we should assume that the complications pregnant women can experience after motor vehicle accidents (such as placental abruption)2 are probably the same complications they could have after riding roller coasters. As is the case with many things in pregnancy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So be sure to read those signs before riding.
In the end, we had a great time at Disneyland. We rode some rides (the safe ones, of course), I got the cutest Mickey Mouse pajamas for baby, and our friends got engaged that weekend at the park! All in all, it was a great trip. But next time I go I won’t be pregnant so I can ride Space Mountain.