Girls that Scuba is home to many Mums that Scuba and we wanted to start highlighting more mums that have managed to continue their passion and also turn a business into it. We recently met Laura Tryrrell owner of Cabo Private Guide at our GTS event in Los Cabo who spoke to us about her journey as a mum in the scuba dive industry.
I think I was about 6 weeks pregnant when I found out. Actually, I think I had just come back from feeling particularly nauseous during a deep dive specialty when I decided to take the test. Or 3 tests actually. A few phone calls to family and friends later and I realised my life had changed completely. Of course it was daunting but I was cool with it; I was lucky to be in relationship with a great guy and my 35 year old ovaries had been screaming at me to grow a human for a few years by now.
But I’m a dive pro. What path does my life take now?
Is Diving Possible when Pregnant?
Girls that Scuba have covered this in detail, but in my opinion I too think it IS a risk and I personally wouldn’t. There isn’t enough research into the effects of nitrogen on the foetus and if you overexert yourself who knows what could happen? As a guide you can endanger yourself, your baby and other divers in a panic situation because you won’t be able rescue anyone.
How Can You Work in Diving during Pregnancy?
As the manager of a dive centre I was able to continue office work and join the team on the boat when the morning sickness went away. There were occasions where I would don a wetsuit and help out in pool training or as surface support. The predominantly male dive team I worked with were fantastic and this was a big help.
Working in the dive environment when pregnant is entirely dependent on how your pregnancy is going. There is always other work to do and I got all the boring jobs done such as inventories, accounting and promotions. Sometimes I went on the boat to help with customer service. I was extremely sick with morning sickness for about a week and needed a place to hide for an hour in the morning. My male, childless director was so understanding and let me die quietly in the corner whenever I needed to. Check your rights as a pregnant worker and check your maternity leave entitlement.
I had an ‘easy’ delivery. Oh how I want to wipe the smile off the midwife’s face when she tells me that. But apparently the delivery was textbook stuff and I was up and doing cartwheels again after 4 weeks. Hormones were also doing cartwheels and after a traumatic airplane journey back to my dive job in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico (I cried more than the baby) I was lucky enough to be able to work. I could lift tanks and I could climb up ladders. I found it easier to stop breast-feeding in order to make all this happen (leaky rash guard boobs? No thanks) and I still beat myself up about this sometimes.
Apart from the usual crazy emotions in the first few months your brain is in hyper survival mode. Diving is a risky sport. You baby must live, therefore you must live. Which is why I had 2 mild panics on the standard reef that we always dive on. I dealt with it rather well I think but, for 30 seconds, I had perceptual narrowing and my brain just told me to go up. The first time deep diving again made me paranoid that it would happen again. It didn’t and now I’m back to normal. My experience is corroborated by other non-pro mothers that have gone so far as to quit their hobby over this phenomenon.
Living in Paradise with Your Child
I started a Scuba and Snorkel business when my child was one year old and my partner is out working himself to the bone on the Socorro Island live-aboards as we want to provide for his future. We are raising him in a place where he can play in the waves, snorkel with tropical fish and one day go dive with the sea lions at the colony only 5 minutes by boat. Maybe he’ll grow up to be the next Jacques Cousteau, or maybe he’ll just rebel against his mum and dad and become an accountant. Who knows? But he has the choice.
The Ticking Clock
If you are thinking about starting a family and have been wandering how on Earth you’re supposed to do this and be a dive pro at the same time let me tell you that it’s probably going to be easier than you think. In my limited experience it’s completely doable. If you have time to plan for a while then I would recommend looking for work in a good company that pays for leave and health benefits, keep in mind you may not be able to go back to work straight away and find out about day care centres in the area – they are truly life savers!
Please keep in mind that this article is written from the subjective opinion of one person. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. If you are a new mother reading this and you haven’t been able to return to work or haven’t been coping in some way, just remember, you are doing a great job. You are doing the most important job. Follow your instincts and don’t compare yourself to other mums. It gets easier.
About the Author
Laura is from the UK and has been traveling the world as a dive pro for almost 10 years. She is now living in Baja California with her partner and 2 year-old son where she operates a diving and adventure snorkelling tour company; Cabo Private Guide.