Can I Ride Roller Coasters While Pregnant?

Roller coaster

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Spending the day at the amusement park is a fun and entertaining way to pass a sunny summer day with kids. Between the rides, the snacks, and the games, children are guaranteed to be spent (in a good way) by the time you climb into the car to head home.

While you might typically enjoy going upside down and experiencing the stomach-leaving-your-body feeling of a big drop, if you're pregnant, it's best to stand on the sidelines. Here, learn why experts don’t recommend riding roller coasters while pregnant and what you can do for fun at the amusement park instead.

Riding Roller Coasters During Pregnancy

While it may be an activity you enjoyed in the past, the swoops, drops, and twists of a roller coaster are not safe for a pregnant person. “I do not recommend roller coaster rides or any activities that include forceful stop and go motions, as those can harm the baby,” says Salome Masghati, MD, FACOG, an OB/GYN based in Maryland.

Indeed, while someone who is pregnant may think they can handle the pulse-pumping thrills of a roller coaster, they should abstain because of the risks it poses for the baby. Specifically, there is the risk of placental abruption, plus the additional risks presented by the crowded environment and the physical after-effects of such a ride.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about riding roller coasters while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

Expecting parents should avoid riding roller coasters throughout their pregnancy because it isn't safe for baby. Placental abruption, depending on the severity, can cause vaginal bleeding and increases the risk of a stillborn baby, especially if the abruption occurs before the baby is viable at 24 weeks.

Why You Should Not Ride Roller Coasters While Pregnant

The biggest risk of riding roller coasters during pregnancy is placental abruption. “The jerky movements and strong G forces (sudden, fast acceleration) make the roller coaster potentially dangerous. The placenta could pull away [from the wall of the uterus], which is called an abruption,” explains OB/GYN Kimberly Langdon, MD, who has nearly 20 years of clinical experience. When this happens, the baby is deprived of oxygen and all the necessary nourishment it receives through the placenta.

“Basically, any jarring force can cause placental abruption,” says Dr. Masghati. Whether you’re considering a coaster with long abrupt drops, sharp jerky turns, or corkscrews that send riders upside down, all the forces at play could be potentially dangerous.

On top of this risk to the baby, the pregnant person may experience symptoms like vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain or tenderness, or tetanic contractions, which are essentially extreme contractions that last longer than 90 seconds and can cause the baby distress.

In addition to roller coasters, there are a few other rides at the amusement park that pose the same risks for pregnant people. You should also steer clear of pendulum rides, free-fall rides, swing rides, spinning rides (including the teacups), bumper cars, and water slides. “Water slides harbor the risk of a direct splash of water against the belly,” says Dr. Masghati, which can be as forceful and as potentially dangerous during the third trimester as getting hit in the stomach.

“Any ride that causes balance disturbances should be avoided as well,” notes Dr. Langdon. “Your equilibrium is off in pregnancy." Rides with loops or spins that leave you feeling off-balance when you exit the car will increase your risk of tripping or falling and causing injury to your baby.

This is less of a concern during the first trimester, while the uterine wall is thick and the bones of the pelvis are providing protection, and in the second trimester, when the high volume of amniotic fluid is protecting the fetus. However, once the uterus is extended well past the pelvis, the walls are thinner, and there is less fluid around the baby—which happens during the third trimester—the potential for injury to your baby goes up.

Additionally, simply standing in line for a popular ride surrounded by children jostling to get onto the next train that slides to a halt in front of them poses a risk of your belly being bumped or someone hitting or elbowing you in the stomach. “Being in large crowds increases the risk of direct trauma to the belly,” Dr. Masghati notes.

When Can I Resume Riding Roller Coasters?

As soon as you have delivered your baby, the possibility of placental abruption is gone, eliminating the primary risk of riding roller coasters while pregnant. That said, giving birth, whether vaginally or via Cesarean section (C-section), is traumatic for the body and it needs time to recover.

You can view riding roller coasters the same way you would exercise after pregnancy. If you had a typical vaginal delivery and you feel ready, you can begin exercising again as soon as a few days after giving birth (with permission and guidance from your healthcare provider, of course). But if you have a C-section or any complications, it’s best to hold off on exercise or rollercoaster rides until you get the all-clear from your provider.

Pregnancy-Safe Alternatives

The good news is that being pregnant doesn’t mean the only thing you can do at the amusement park is watch. There are a few rides that get the all-clear from healthcare providers. “Rides that can be safe are those where there is no excessive spinning or drop from a height,” notes Dr. Masghati. “A slow spinning carousel ride can be deemed safe, or railroad rides or rides that don't involve sudden drops in height.”

Stick to rides that move at slow, consistent speeds and don’t generate any G force or send your body jerking back and forth. As always, confirm with your personal healthcare provider what rides are safe and which to avoid before heading out to the amusement park.

A Word From Verywell

If you're pregnant, you should avoid riding roller coasters. Any ride with sudden drops, jerky turns, or lots of force on the body increases the risk of placental abruption, which can be life-threatening for a baby. Other hazards around these thrill rides, including the large crowds and balance disturbances post-ride, can also be dangerous for you and your baby. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about amusement park rides and your specific pregnancy.

3 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. Ananth CV, Lavery JA, Vintzileos AM, et al. Severe placental abruption: clinical definition and associations with maternal complicationsAmerican Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2016;214(2):272.e1-272.e9.

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

  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise After Pregnancy Frequently Asked Questions.

Originally written by
Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.
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