Roller Coasters and Placental Abruption

An Unbiased Look at the Risks and Complications

Roller coaster

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Riding a roller coaster may give you the thrill of a lifetime, but can all of the twisting, turning, and plummeting be more than you (or your baby) can handle during pregnancy?

From a statistical standpoint, there has yet to be any published research warning against this or any other type of amusement ride. On the other hand, we do know that harm can and does arise from the rapid deceleration of moving vehicles.

But the question is this: does this type of information fairly translate to the heart-thumping frivolity of a roller coaster? Or is it just an old wives' tale that needs debunking?

Understanding Placental Abruption

Placental abruption, also known as abruptio placentae, is a complication of pregnancy where the placental lining separates from the uterus. The effects on the mother and baby can vary, ranging from blood loss and low birth weight to maternal death and stillbirth.

In most cases, abruption is caused by placental disorders or arterial bleeding that can tear the placenta from the uterine wall. Less commonly, placental abruption is caused by trauma, of which automobile accidents are a prime example.

Lack of airbags and seatbelts are seen to be contributing factors, and even minor injuries to a pregnant woman can cause significant complications for a baby.

In many cases, no outward signs of injury were noted if the accident was considered minor. It was only later when internal hemorrhaging became apparent that the abruption was finally identified.

Rollercoasters and Pregnancy

As a rule of thumb, riding a roller coaster during pregnancy is not a good idea. This is most definitely the case in later pregnancy.

On the other hand, taking a roller coaster role during the first trimester is probably not likely to cause a miscarriage or abruption. At this stage, the placenta is still developing and is far less likely to be affected by jarring movements.

Ultimately, the question is whether the ride is can worth the risk? We know, for example, that other factors contribute to placental abruption, including multiple pregnancies, chronic hypertension, and deep vein thrombosis. Even age plays a part, with women under 20 and those over 35 at greatest risk. All of these factors contribute and in no small part. Moreover, the risk of placental abruption increases if a person has had a previous abruption.

A Word From Verywell

Because no study has yet examined the likelihood of first-trimester miscarriage after a roller coaster ride, no one can say for certain exactly what is safe or not safe. This holds true for any other ride that might whip you around or launch you rapidly into the air.

If you are pregnant and decide to take a ride, go immediately to an emergency room if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • The sudden and rapid onset of abdominal pain
  • Pain in the abdomen and back
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Contractions that seem continuous and do not stop

Immediate action is key to ensuring you have a safe and healthy delivery.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schmidt P, Skelly CL, Raines DA. Placental Abruption (Abruptio Placentae). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Updated May 23, 2019.

  2. Murphy NJ, Quinlan JD. Trauma in pregnancy: Assessment, management, and prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2014;90(10):717-724.

  3. Vladutiu CJ, Weiss HB. Motor vehicle safety during pregnancy. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2012;6(3):241-249. doi:10.1177/1559827611421304

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