PREGNANT ON THE PLAYA
FAQ - Pregnant at Burning Man
Q. I'm pregnant ... should I come to Burning Man?
A. The best advice to this question comes from your doctor. In general it is advised that any woman who is pregnant and planning on going to BM to discuss with her doctor whether or not she is high-risk(e.g. history of ectopics, diabetic, previous miscarriages, history of eclampsia, history of pre-term labor or delivery, incompetent cervix, preeclampsia, PROM etc.). All the Ob/Gyn doctor needs to know is the minimum about BM, that is, a week long outdoor experience in the high desert with limited local medical facilities, and with the closest hospital 100 miles away. Given this basic information about Burning Man and the specific considerations for your pregnancy, they will be able to give you the best advise possible.
The playa can be a harsh environment. The combination of low humidity, high temperatures, dust, and long days of activity can be taxing on a body. The pregnant body needs more than a regular body: more food, more water, more rest. As always when you are pregnant, it is important to take good care of yourself because how you treat your body is ultimately how you are treating your baby's body. The following are some concerns about the playa and pregnancy that we'd like to address:
Q. What about all the dust and dirt? How will that affect me and my baby?
A. There is a worry that the playa environment with all its dust and lack of bathing water is bad for a pregnant person. Remember that people have been having babies in every conceivable type of environment for millions of years. The human body is a marvelous thing and if you take the care to eat well and drink lots of fluids (once you experience the thirst sensation you are already 5% dehydrated), wash your hands as appropriate, and rest when it's time to, your body will respond by being healthy. Your baby will respond in kind.
Q. Will the desert heat harm my pregnancy?
A. The playa is a hot place. And then you have a little "oven" in your belly. The heat is a tough thing to handle when you are pregnant because you feel big and round and hot already. Our body has a thermostat though, so that when we get hot we sweat to cool down our bodies. When you are pregnant you are less able to compensate for heat because of already dilated arteries due to the higher levels of estrogen in your body. Again, drink lots of water and if you feel too warm, get out of the sun.
Q. What if I have a high-risk pregnancy?
A. Be sure to talked with your Ob/Gyn about the risks and considerations specific for your pregnancy. Be gentle with yourself and your baby. If you are having problems with your pregnancy, being on the playa places you several hours away from medical facilities equipped with the resources and medical experts to help you. Make wise decisions based on that fact.
Q. The dust on the playa is highly alkaline. Is that bad for me and my baby?
A. I've researched this a fair bit. There is no evidence that I can find that the alkaline dust is detrimental to anyone, pregnant or otherwise.
Pregnancy is a marvelous and natural event. Listen to your body and you will do well. But if you do experience any bleeding, cramping, or other problems on the playa, please don't hesitate to contact someone at one of the medical outposts (3:00, 9:00, and Center Camp) for an evaluation.
For more information, please write to 911(at)burningman(dot)com.