I’m an audio engineer and an electric violinist for a metal band, and just found out that I’m pregnant. It’s early days, but do I need to cancel gigs after a certain point? As an engineer, I experience up to 105db at work, but generally staying under 90db. As a musician, though, I’m onstage next to drum kits and loud amps, including my own, for an average set of 50 minutes.
Playing with my band is really important to me, and I would love to show my child a picture of their mom rocking out with them inside me. Is there anything I can do to keep them safe without cancelling gigs? – M.J.
Congrats on your future metal-loving baby! First, a big disclaimer: I am in no way a doctor and dispensing medical advice is not my forte. That being said, I was able to dig up some information on what doctors seem to know about noise during pregnancy that I can share. But of course, head to your doctor to see what they recommend, especially in terms of timing later in the pregnancy.
From what I can tell, it’s recommended that pregnant people should not be routinely exposed to noise louder than 115 dBA, which for your engineering gigs sounds doable. I’m not sure how much louder your musician gigs get though, so you may need to proceed with caution in those situations. There are a few more guidelines I found from the CDC about rumbling noise and noises enhanced by proximity and contact to your body as well. Here’s an excerpt for context…
Protect your developing baby from very loud noise:
- Your hearing protection will not fully protect your developing baby’s ears from noise. Noise travels through the body to the womb. A baby’s ears are mostly developed by about the 20th week of pregnancy, and babies start responding to sounds around the 24th week.
- Sounds from outside the mother’s body are quieter inside the womb. Based on this, some experts think that pregnant women should not be routinely exposed to noise louder than 115 dBA. This is roughly as loud as operating a chainsaw. Areas that are very loud (more than 115 dBA) should be avoided during pregnancy as much as possible, even if you are wearing hearing protection.
- Noises that you can feel as a rumble or vibration are very low frequency sounds. We do not know for sure if developing babies are affected by this noise, but these sounds travel through your body easily and can cause changes in your body that could affect your developing baby. Avoid this kind of noise if possible.
- Sudden loud noises (impact or impulse noise) that are loud enough for you to need hearing protection or that startle you should be avoided during pregnancy.
- Sounds are stronger to your developing baby when your belly is closer to the source of the noise. Do not lean up against or put your body in contact with a source of noise. You should also avoid leaning against a source of vibration.
If you’re really wanting to get some good photos pregnant, maybe schedule a more intimate jam session with a small crowd that won’t be quite so jarring, noise-wise. It’s not ideal, but it’ll be the safer route. And then once metal baby is born, you can snag your favorite pair of noise-cancelling baby headphones and let them see you in action.
Any actual docs on hand to give additional advice? Is there a doctor in the house?!