Is Watching Movies in a Theater Safe While Pregnant?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Expectant moms give up lots of things for the health of their babies, and most do it gladly. Fortunately, going to the movies isn’t something you’ll need to give up. It’s a popular question, though – and you might be wondering if all that noise can affect your baby (or if it’s a good environment to be in if you’re pregnant).

Watching movies in a theater is generally safe for pregnant women. However, there are some things to consider before heading out of the door, including whether or not you’ll need ear protection, how full the theater is likely to be, and how comfortable you’ll be in the seats.

In this article, I’ll give you some information on what doctors say about going to the cinema while pregnant, what the CDC says about loud noises and a few other things you might want to know. Keep reading to find out more.

Watching Movies in a Theater When Pregnant: Is It Safe?

As long as the theatre you’re visiting has a reputation for being a clean, safe place, then watching movies there should be perfectly safe. However, you must also consider the other people visiting the theater and what illnesses they may bring in with them.

These days, people are more cognizant than ever of how sickness can spread between people who have only casual contact with each other.

If you’re going to the movies, be sure to take proper precautions. Wear a mask if you feel like you need to – people are certainly used to seeing them more than ever. Avoid sitting too close to other patrons, and try not to walk or sit near anyone who’s coughing, sneezing, or otherwise showing signs of illness. 

What they have probably isn’t serious – but it’s best to try and avoid getting sick when you’re pregnant, regardless.

pregnant woman with her family watching a movie in a theater

Next, consider how full the theater is likely to be. For instance, if you’re headed out to see the new Marvel movie, you may want to wait until the hype has died down some instead of going to the theatre on the first day.

Otherwise, you’re likely to be walking into a theater full of people of all ages, and not everyone is going to pay attention and realize you’re pregnant. 

That could mean they bump into you, accidentally jostle you and put you off-balance while walking by, or any other number of things. Additionally, some of them may be sick without you realizing it, and you’ll be exposed to that as well.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the movies – it just means you need to be more selective about when you decide to see something.

Now, let’s look at the number one reason most women fear going to the movies while pregnant: the loud noises. According to the CDC, there are three main reasons to be concerned about loud noises while you’re pregnant:

  • Loud noises can cause maternal stress. Significant stress can negatively impact your body and your unborn baby’s development. Movies usually don’t cause high levels of stress (depending on what you’re watching), but bear this in mind. You can read about watching scary or disturbing movies during pregnancy here.
  • If the noises are too loud, they can travel through and reach your baby’s ears. This is very unlikely, but it can happen, and if it does, it can potentially damage your baby’s hearing. This is unlikely, though – since movie theaters are mindful of safe noise volumes for their audiences – which we’ll cover shortly.
  • You can use ear protection to help save your hearing. There’s no way to provide that same protection for your unborn child. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

All of those things are true and can certainly cause problems for your baby. 

However, the sound at the movies doesn’t get loud enough to cause issues. In the same article by the CDC, they recommend not exposing yourself – and by extension, your developing baby – to sounds above 115 decibels. 

Movie theaters tend to keep their sounds at around 80 decibels, with the loudest, most extreme sounds – such as crashes and explosions in action movies – getting as loud as 100 decibels. (Source: University of South Carolina)

That means the occasional movie now and then, even the loud ones, should be fine for you and your little one. Your body and the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby should keep him or her safe.

However, if you’re prone to headaches, you may still want to wear ear protection to help muffle the noise. While doing so won’t help your baby, it’s still good for your own ears! 

In an interview with Romper, Dr. Michele Cherry of Marshall Medical Center agrees, pointing out that pregnant women are no more sensitive to sound than other women.

She also explains that “sitting in a movie theater for two to three hours… is within the recommended time limitations for exposure to loud sounds, and short exposure like this should also not affect the fetal hearing.” (Source: Marshall Medical Center)

If you take all of that into account and take proper precautions, your time at the movies should be safe and fun. However, you may want to avoid going to the movies in your third trimester. It isn’t any less safe than any other time, but those movie chairs can get super uncomfortable, and having to sit in them for a few hours while heavily pregnant probably isn’t going to be much fun. If you think you can manage it, then you can go ahead – it’s really a matter of comfort.

If going to the movies is one of your favorite hobbies or date night ideas with your partner, don’t worry – you can still go. Just take proper precautions, be safe, and enjoy yourself!