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While some people might say that watching a horror movie while pregnant would be too much for their nerves and could lead to nightmares or even worse, things aren’t so black and white.
Scary movies themselves aren’t dangerous to pregnancy, but you should consider how you typically react to those types of films. If you’re generally comfortable with scary movies, there’s a good chance things will be fine.
The key thing is what type of film you’re viewing. Slasher or gore-filled movies are designed specifically for fear, which may trigger an anxiety attack in some people. Suspenseful movies may be a safer bet, as the effects they have on your body build more gradually. Look for a title that has suspenseful moments instead of over-the-top scares.
Will watching horror movies affect my baby?
Fear activates your nervous system to produce adrenaline hormones. Adrenaline will increase your heart rate and your breathing becomes more shallow and faster. Your blood pressure may increase as well.
Currently, there is no scientific proof that watching horror movies in pregnancy are harmful to a baby in utero. Short, loud noises do not usually affect your fetus as he/she is surrounded by amniotic fluid and buffered from the noises. (So no cranking 8 hour raves on the regular, I’m sorry!)
Make sure to speak with your doctor or midwife to make sure there are no other factors that could impact your pregnancy while watching scary movies, like an already increased blood pressure or challenges with anxiety. In these cases, you may be best to postpone the horror flick until after pregnancy.
When is the safest time to watch scary movies while pregnant?
The first trimester of pregnancy would be the best time to watch a scary movie as far as your baby is concerned. During the first three months of pregnancy, the baby has more overall physical protection from direct effects on your body.
For yourself, however, pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on your body and mind. Take note of any mood swings or lingering feelings you’re having, and consider these when deciding whether to, and when to, watch a scary movie. It might be that something you thought you could comfortably handle before is much more challenging now that you’re pregnant.
Again, watching a scary movie has a short-term effect on you as far as elevating stress hormones and blood pressure etc. Provided you’re generally comfortable with this type of film, and you’re not having daily horror movie marathons, the short-term effect on your body shouldn’t upset baby regardless of what trimester you’re in.
How can I stay calmer if I watch scary movies while pregnant?
- Consider what you’re eating while watching. Water, or another caffeine-free drink is the best bet, as it won’t augment the effects of the film on your adrenaline. Plus it will help you stay hydrated, which is something we should all be doing anyway, pregnant or not!
- Try to distract yourself with other thoughts. Give counting the number of times that character jumps out at you a try. Come up with your own scary story for the pictures on screen! If it’s really bothering you, then stop watching and do something else.
- Look for shorter films. When you’re pregnant, it’s important to keep moving as much as you can. Sitting in one position while watching a film could get uncomfortable, giving you one more thing to worry about. (and some of those cinema seats are so uncomfortable! Gold Class, much?)
- Watch scary movies in the morning. If you sit down to watch when you’re less likely to be tired, you are more likely to have the energy to handle the effect the movie has on you.
- Take your time to unwind before watching, and before bedtime. Get some good stretches in before watching so that you can reduce the tension your body may feel during the film. After the film, take a bath. Put on your favorite music and dim the lights to help you relax.
- Pick movies with subgenres you’re comfortable with. If you’re okay with gore, but not with hostage situations for example, (this is me!) spend a little more time before deciding what to watch.
- Watch with a partner or friend. Find someone to enjoy the movie with who’s also into scary movies so you can chat about it afterward and not be scared alone!
- Take mid-film intermission breaks, or stop watching altogether. Sometimes it can help to take a break in the middle of a movie. It can help you to come back with a fresh mindset and renewed energy when it’s time for round two!
- Choose a comedy-horror film. There are plenty of options out there for scary/horror films which also include comedy. That comic relief is exactly that – relief.
- Watch a horror film that’s no longer in theaters. If the film has been around for a while, there’s a good chance you can read the synopsis or a more comprehensive summary prior to sitting down to watch it. Do a Google search or jump on IMDB to find out more about a film before you watch it.
Can I play video games that have jump scares when I’m pregnant?
As is with scary movies, the effects of scares during a game are short-term so there shouldn’t be a long-term effect on you. If you’re generally comfortable with this type of game, it shouldn’t upset your baby regardless of what trimester you’re in.
You are more actively engaged while playing a game than you are during the passive experience of watching a film. You may find that the effects of the horror or scary parts are more significant when playing a game than they would be during a movie.
If you find this is the case for you, stop playing! Taking a complete break or switching out with another player can help to create an opportunity for your body to calm back down.
What you should do if you’re still craving a scare while pregnant!
If you want a scare while pregnant, but don’t want to commit to a whole film, try some of these options!
- Listen to suspenseful podcasts. Popular ones include “Welcome to Night Vale” and “The Black Tapes”
- Read scary stories out loud. Check out CreepyPasta for some professional and independent author stories.
- Look at horror art online. There is a great list of horror artists over at Creative Bloq that might tickle your fancy.
There is a lot to consider when pregnant, but you’re doing the right thing by researching it.
Can you watch scary movies while pregnant? Yes, but be sure to do your research. There are plenty of horror films out there that can satisfy your craving for a scare without fear of long-term effects on the baby, as well as alternatives in case you’re not feeling up to it.
Curious about what else you can or shouldn’t do during pregnancy? Check out these articles!
Can I Eat Cinnamon While Pregnant? How to Enjoy Your Favorite Foods During Pregnancy
Is Wasabi Safe During Pregnancy?
Wishing you the very best for your pregnancy and birth!