Halloween Horror Nights. Howl-O-Scream. Scary movies and events galore. If you love getting a rush during October but have a baby on board this year, you may be wondering if you can still visit a haunted house while pregnant. In a normal year, it’s considered totally safe — as long as you don’t get too physical in the tight quarters of a haunted mansion. But since the pandemic began in 2020, there are some COVID precautions to keep in mind this year.
Brittney Pohler, PA-C, MPH, at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station, tells Romper in an interview that expectant mamas can still enjoy some spooks and scares during the Halloween season. “In general, we consider them safe. For most haunted houses, the length of time is usually less than 30 minutes to an hour, and that’s kind of the same as moderate physical exercise. I don’t think just the heart rate aspect alone is worrisome for the mom or baby.”
“Unless the haunted house requires physical activity that the woman cannot do, like crawling on the floor at an advanced stage of pregnancy, they are safe,” adds Alicia Johnson, MSN, RNC-EFM, certified nurse midwife at Lone Tree OB-GYN and Midwives in Denver, in an interview with Romper.
Victor R. Klein, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN at Northwell Health and vice chairman of Obstetrics & Gynecology at North Shore University Hospital, specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Like the other experts, he tells Romper that he wouldn’t be worried about a pregnant woman deciding to visit haunted houses. His main concern would be bumping the baby bump. It’s crucial for pregnant women to avoid slips, falls, and physical injury to themselves and their bellies. “Haunted houses may be dark and in closed spaces with fog machines, creating potential hazards of falls,” he says.
Pohler agrees, and says, “Haunted houses have props everywhere and are poorly lit, so we don’t want you tripping or falling. We don’t want you to be pushed. I think if you’re going, be careful and aware of those things, and maybe have someone whose arm you can hold onto. We just want to avoid trauma to the belly.”
Now that COVID-19 exists, is it still safe for pregnant women to line up for some scares? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that vaccinated people can resume activities as they normally would prior to the pandemic, but that you should still follow any masking rules at your local haunted house and stay home if you have COVID symptoms.
But breakthrough cases are being reported now as a result of the delta variant, meaning that while the vaccine might prevent these patients from becoming seriously ill, they still became infected. So, for pregnant people, regardless of your vaccination status, doctors recommend you take precautions.
“I would be concerned about potential for COVID exposure while in the haunted house,” says Klein. “With closed spaces, social distancing may be difficult to maintain, as people may be in a dark environment and close together. Maintaining masks over the costumes must be adhered to prevent potential spread.”
Klein adds that while pregnant women have not been shown to contract COVID-19 more easily than others, the condition can be serious for them. “Pregnant women are not at increased risk of contracting COVID. However, pregnant women were found to be hospitalized more frequently if they contract the virus, as in many illnesses. There is one report of a newborn contracting COVID from its mother,” he says.
So, if you’re unvaccinated and pregnant, and decide to visit a haunted house this month, maybe call ahead to ask if their performers will be wearing masks. Practice mask wearing and social distancing to the best of your ability, per the CDC.
Also, Pohler recommends listening to your body.
“I tell my patients they’re the best indicator and to listen to their body,” she says. “If they’re getting crampy or feeling uncomfortable, maybe don’t continue all through the night.”
Brittney Pohler, PA-C, MPH, at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station
Alicia Johnson, MSN, RNC-EFM, certified nurse midwife at Lone Tree OB-GYN and Midwives in Denver
Victor R. Klein, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN at Northwell Health and vice chairman of Obstetrics & Gynecology at North Shore University Hospital
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