Is It Safe To Watch Scary Movies While Pregnant?

Watching Horror Movies During Pregnancy – Safe or Not?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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During pregnancy, the emotional and psychological well-being of the mother is paramount, as it can impact the health of both the mother and the baby. While it’s commonly advised to avoid watching scary thrillers or horror movies due to their potential to induce stress, the extent of their effect on pregnancy outcomes remains debated. Some believe that exposure to frightening content could elevate stress levels, potentially affecting the baby’s development, while others argue that occasional viewing may not pose significant harm if balanced with relaxation techniques and overall healthy habits. Understanding individual sensitivities and preferences during pregnancy is therefore essential, including when it comes to watching horror movies in pregnancy.

Can Pregnant Women Watch Horror Movies?

Being a woman, a question that must have occurred to you at least once in your lifetime is ‘is it bad to watch scary movies while pregnant’? Most people, especially those with a conventional mindset, would always suggest you not to go for one when you are pregnant. But the obvious question that arises is whether there is indeed any logic behind this or whether this too, is merely a myth.

The number of myths related to pregnancy is indeed uncountable and varied. While some of them say that the food you have during pregnancy affects your baby’s food habits in the long run, some others state that the pictures you watch during this period will affect the physical appearance of your baby, completely negating the role of genetics. So, certain myths related to pregnancy undoubtedly have no scientific justification whatsoever and are completely baseless.

Horror movies, in general, can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions for a person, whether or not she is pregnant. The effect of a horror movie on a pregnant woman therefore largely depends on the amount of stress that the movie exerts on her. In fact, any kind of movie that exerts stress on the expecting mother would be better to avoid.

Will Watching Horror Movies When Pregnant Affect the Unborn Baby?

The major and perhaps the only reason why watching a horror movie is discouraged during pregnancy is that it might cause stress to the mother. Stress in the expecting mother can cause hormonal changes in her body which, in turn, can affect the unborn child. Some of these problems may include the inability to concentrate or pay attention during childhood being restless or getting freaked out very easily. Too much stress, in rare cases, can also lead to premature delivery or stillbirth. The primary concern that needs to be addressed in this regard, however, is whether horror movies indeed can be so stressful to the mother.

In simple words, if the mother is not comfortable watching a horror movie under normal circumstances, she should certainly avoid going for it while she is pregnant. However, if she enjoys it and finds it to be a pleasurable experience, it wouldn’t be harmful to the unborn baby in any way. In fact, this is true not only in the case of a horror movie but also for any other genre of movie, or any other general stimulus for that matter. Anything that causes stress in the mother should be avoided during pregnancy.

Things to Consider While Watching Scary Movies in Pregnancy

It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the period of pregnancy which is one of the most crucial periods of one’s life. Therefore, the following things should be kept in mind for the well-being of the baby at large:

  • If a horror movie (or any movie for that matter) stresses you out or causes emotional turbulence in you, it is better that you avoid it during pregnancy.
  • After about 24 weeks of pregnancy, the sense organs of the baby begin to develop. After this period, loud noises can be disturbing for the unborn baby. This area should be considered before the mother goes for a movie.
  • If sitting straight for a couple of hours or so in the movie theatre seems to be exhausting during the advanced stages, it is better that you avoid doing so.
  • Consider the impact of jump scares or intense scenes on your heart rate and overall stress levels, as heightened anxiety may not be beneficial for you or your baby.
  • Take into account the potential for sleep disturbances or nightmares after watching a scary movie, as adequate rest is crucial for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider to gain personalized advice and recommendations based on your individual pregnancy health.

Alternatives of Horror Movies While Pregnant

During pregnancy, it’s important to prioritize activities and entertainment that promote relaxation and well-being. Instead of subjecting yourself to the stress and anxiety that can come with watching horror movies, consider alternative forms of entertainment that are gentle and soothing. Here are some alternatives to horror movies to enjoy during pregnancy:

  • Seek out activities devoid of fright: Delve into pastimes like reading, engaging in crafts, or practicing prenatal yoga to unwind and savor your leisure time without encountering any alarming content.
  • Opt for light-hearted comedies or heartwarming films: These options have the power to uplift your mood and induce laughter, offering valuable benefits throughout pregnancy.
  • Broaden your entertainment horizons: Expand your viewing preferences to encompass genres known for eliciting positive feelings, such as romantic comedies, dramas, or insightful documentaries.

FAQs

1. Can horror movies induce labor?

There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that horror movies while pregnant can directly induce labor. However, excessive stress or anxiety, which could be triggered by watching intense films, may theoretically contribute to early labor in some cases.

2. Are there any benefits to watching horror movies during pregnancy?

While there’s no direct benefit to watching horror movies during pregnancy, some argue that occasional exposure to mild fright may help desensitize expectant mothers to fear, potentially aiding in coping with the anxieties of childbirth.

3. Should I avoid certain types of horror movies during pregnancy?

It’s generally advisable to avoid extremely graphic or intense horror movies during pregnancy, as they could provoke heightened stress or anxiety. Opt for milder options or consider alternative forms of entertainment that promote relaxation and positivity.

To sum up, pregnancy is all about what gives you pleasure and keeps you happy. So, if a horror movie can lift up your mood, there is no reason why you should avoid it. However, if you think that it can be stressful for you, it is always better to avoid it during this period.

References/Resources:

1. UC research examines the impact of maternal stress during pregnancy on child’s health; University of Cincinnati; https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2023/04/university-of-cincinnati-research-examines-the-impact-of-maternal-stress-during-pregnancy-on-childs-health.html

2. Pearson. R, Lightman. S, Evans. J; Emotional sensitivity for motherhood: late pregnancy is associated with enhanced accuracy to encode emotional faces (Hormones and Behavior); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19786033/; November 2009

3. DiPietro. J, Hilton. S, Hawkins. M, Costigan. K, Pressman. E; Maternal stress and affect influence fetal neurobehavioral development (Developmental Psychology); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12220045/; September  2022

4. Capron. L, The Impact of Maternal Antenatal Anxiety and Depression on Child Development: Examining Underlying Mechanisms; Imperial College London; https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/bitstream/10044/1/67815/3/Capron-L-2016-PhD-Thesis.pdf; February 2016

5. Littleton. H, Bye. K, Buck. K, Amacker. A; Psychosocial stress during pregnancy and perinatal outcomes: a meta-analytic review (Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21039328/; December 2010

6. Kinsella. M, Monk. C; Impact of Maternal Stress, Depression & Anxiety on Fetal Neurobehavioral Development (Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710585/; July 2013

7. Lautarescu. A, Craig. M, Glover. V; Chapter Two – Prenatal stress: Effects on fetal and child brain development (International Review of Neurobiology); Science Direct; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0074774219301199

Also Read:

Loud Noise during Pregnancy
TV Shows to Watch while Pregnant
Pregnancy Movies to Watch When Expecting

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