DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Return To Diving After Giving Birth

I'm a dive instructor. I would like to return to teaching as soon as I can after my child is born. When can I return to diving?

Diving, like any other sport, requires a certain degree of conditioning and fitness. Divers who want to return to diving postpartum (after having a child) should follow the guidelines suggested for other sports and activities.

Fitness and Diving Issues
After a vaginal delivery, women can usually resume light to moderate activity within one to three weeks. This depends of several factors: prior level of conditioning; exercise and conditioning during pregnancy; pregnancy-related complications; postpartum fatigue; and anemia, if any. Women who have exercise regimens prior to pregnancy and birth generally resume exercise programs and sports participation in earnest at three to four weeks after giving birth.
Obstetricians generally recommend avoiding sexual intercourse and immersion for 21 days postpartum. This allows the cervix to close, decreasing the risk of introducing infection into the genital tract. A good rule of thumb is to wait four weeks after delivery before returning to diving.
After a cesarean delivery (often called a C-section, made via a surgical incision through the walls of the abdomen and uterus), wound-healing has to be included in the equation. Most obstetricians advise waiting at least four to six weeks after this kind of delivery before resuming full activity. Given the need to regain some measure of lost conditioning, coupled with wound healing, and the significant weight-bearing load of carrying dive gear, it's advisable to wait at least eight weeks after a C-section before returning to diving.
Any moderate or severe medical complication of pregnancy - such as twins, pre-term labor, hypertension or diabetes - may further delay return to diving. Prolonged bed rest in these cases may have led to profound deconditioning and loss of aerobic capacity and muscle mass. For women who have had deliveries with medical complications, a medical screening and clearance are advisable before they return to diving.

Additional Information
Caring for a newborn may interfere with a woman's attempts to recover her strength and stamina. Newborn care, characterized by poor sleep and fatigue, is a rigorous and demanding time in life.