You're now entering the period of pregnancy which is reported by mother's like yourself to be the most uncomfortable and miserable of the entire pregnancy (short of labor, of course). You may not look pregnant. You may not even feel pregnant. You may, however, feel as though you are dying from the inside out. If you do, you're not alone. If you don't, I'm supremely jealous of you. You may also only experience mild symptoms that are completely livable or last only part of the day and can be easily taken care of with a little extra rest and peppermint tea. If that is the case, I'm both very happy for you and jealous. :D
Bloating, morning sickness, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, cramps and a slew of other symptoms are commonly reported between now and somewhere in the beginning to mid second trimester.
Some women, like myself, also experience what I would call "symptom sensitivity" regarding things carried around their midsection. What I mean by this is that pressure around the abdomen can make the symptoms and discomfort worse. Belts, stiff-waist slacks or jeans are enough to make the nausea, cramping and discomfort that much more unbearable. If this is your case, the best result, then, is to cease from carrying anything in that location and moving instead toward comfy elastic-waist slacks.
But what does this mean for carrying a gun?
It means you do the best you can. If you can stick it out and are dedicated despite your misery you can certainly continue to carry around the waist, but if not, you can seriously consider a carry system that is not centered around the waist as discussed in Week 5.
Also, it may be time to consider what kind of gun you are carrying or going to carry throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
Bear with me as I go against conventional wisdom and recommendations for a few moments as I advise on armed pregnancy guns.
Picking a Gun For An Armed, Expectant Mother
In general, I recommend firearms are that are easy to handle and have a good capacity, can be surely and solidly gripped and easily operated. I generally recommend AGAINST your tiny, little, pocket guns that have low capacity and are not fun to shoot except for as extreme concealment firearms, backup guns or, as you will see, while pregnant. It has been said, and it is true, that having a small gun on your body is better than not having the larger gun you left at home because it was too uncomfortable for carry.
Some people will ask why I don't recommend tiny-frame pocket guns for carry in general and the answer is that a good combat handgun has a full grip; decent, easy to acquire sights; a capacity greater than seven; a good sight radius (distance between the front and rear sights) for longer range accuracy and can easily be controlled for fast follow up shooting.
Those things cannot always be said about your tiny little pocket firearms. In general they have much smaller grips; small, low-drag sights; between two and seven rounds of capacity; a short sight radius and are often much harder to control because of their jumpy nature upon recoil. While some have mastered the art of the pocket pistol and even succeed in shooting to competition accuracy and speed with them your average concealed carrier who dons one does not have that kind of time and expertise with them.
Most of the time, the reason people do not put in the time and energy to get good with these tiny pocket guns is because they can be very uncomfortable to shoot and large round counts through them can not only be painful but literally damaging to the human hand, wrist and elbow. Most people who get proficient with them do long sessions of dry-fire practice (something we will discuss shortly) or use a heavier model of the same firearm with weaker loads to protect against that damage. The latter is not always available to all civilians in an economic crisis.
That being said, these tiny pocket guns are on the market for a reason. They are lighter than some wallets, smaller than some palms and still great little fighting guns when you need them. And when you can no longer carry a large-frame firearm anywhere lower than the bottom of your ribcage they become extremely attractive to a woman in need of such a gun.
During pregnancy your body and clothing may demand you pick a smaller, more concealable and easily carried gun. In the event that this does happen (and it may not), you may find yourself prone to leave your normally carried, larger firearm at home.
So what do you want to consider in a pocket pistol for a pregnant woman? The same things you would consider in purchasing any other firearm, just in a much smaller form.
Size: It's true, you are looking for a smaller firearm to carry, but is there such a thing as too small? Yes! If the firearm limits the ammunition capacity to less than five or drops the caliber to less than .380 ACP I would say the firearm is too small. You should still be able to get your first two and a half or three fingers on the grip and be able to reach and operate all of the controls easily. This is, after all, still a fighting gun.
Caliber: Handgun calibers, in and of themselves, are pretty horrible man-stoppers and once you drop below .380 ACP you are getting into dangerously low terminal ballistics. While many people have still died from being shot with smaller calibers such a .25 or even .22 it is generally accepted that your service calibers (9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Mag, .357 SIG, .45 ACP, etc) preform better (not best) against other human beings. You are already limiting capacity, try not to limit caliber if you can.
Capacity: Gun fights are won with what's already in the gun and many a police officer has been found dead with an empty gun and a spare magazine in hand. This means they were attempting to do a reload and were gunned down in the process. While your average gun fight ends in about 2-3 shots that doesn't mean you won't be on the high end of those statistics and need 5-7 shots to stop a determined attacker. In the trainings I have been to the average number of shots expended per attacker is 2-3. This means if there is more than one attacker the shots needed to neutralize the threat increase by at LEAST two shots per attacker. This means, one attacker? Two shots. Two attackers? Four shots. Three attackers? Six shots. And this is assuming these are very well-placed shots. Knowing what I know, training how I've trained and having read what I have read about ballistics, stopping power, and gun fights I'm not entirely convinced that sixteen rounds of ammunition is sufficient for a single attacker but statistically 5-7 rounds of a decent caliber should send a clear message that you are not going to be a victim.
Recoil Control and Follow Through: Follow through is defined as applying the fundamentals of shooting to include, stance, grip, sight alignment and trigger control, through a shot and into the next. The more recoil you have to control through each shot the longer it is going to take to get back on target and ready to shoot again. There are large caliber pocket guns that have very decent capacity, but the recoil in them is astonishing. Granted, in a life-or-death situation recoil is not going to be something you are going to be worried so much about but it doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered while you are picking out that pocket pistol. The larger the caliber also usually means a drop in capacity which is something to consider.
There are three final things you, as a pregnant woman, must also consider while picking out a smaller, more comfortable carry pistol:
1. You are a woman. 2. You are pregnant. 3. You are pregnant.
1. You are a woman. In general, though it sucks, we women do not have the upper body strength of men. A man can generally control a small pocket pistol far easier than a woman can by the very nature that he has big strong hands and arms. To even the playing field as much as possible do work on strengthening your hands and arms through the use of an exercise ball or equipment such as a grip master (I have one in both the 5 lbs and 7lbs models) and continue (or start) some kind of exercise while pregnant (after consulting with your doctor, or course). Swimming, light weight lifting, etc, can keep your upper body fit and strong to control that little pistol.
2. You are pregnant. This means you won't be able to go to the range and shoot to get the kind of practice you would expect to get on an average carry gun. You are going to want to get something you already know or suspect you can handle well. If you are used to a .380 don't jump to a .357 or .45 ACP, especially in that little pocket pistol. Keep it within the calibers you have confidently mastered and take comfort in those few extra rounds of capacity you'll likely get. Also, combat your inability to go to the range with at least an hour of dry-fire practice a week.
3. You are pregnant. This means a hormone known as "relaxin" is coursing through your body loosening your ligaments and muscles so that your abdominal muscles can stretch and your hips can widen and make room for your babies birth. This hormone does not stop at the waist, however. Many women experience clumsiness and even grip, back, arm, knee and ankle issues which can make it even more difficult to control a large caliber, small-frame firearm. Again, keep the caliber a comfortable one that you are confident you can handle. Confidence can go a long way to ensuring you are ready if (God forbid) you need your firearm to protect yourself and your growing baby.
As a general rule, .380 or 9mm pocket guns seem to have the best balance between capacity, caliber, size and recoil control.
My choice during my first pregnancy (and now that I'm pregnant again) has been my S&W 360PD.
Because it has a scandium frame it weighs only about 14 oz. and it is small enough to fit into a generous pocket or even a nice shoulder holster. Being chambered in .357 MAG I have the option to load it up with .357 defense loads for carry and do any practice with .38 Special. Though, I must say, that with such a small, light firearm, it doesn't much matter how light of a load is put in it. It still isn't comfortable to shoot it. I am not, however, trying to win any competitions, I'm just trying to find a semi-comfortable way to protect myself and my growing child while pregnant and I'll take a small five-shot revolver over strong words and a mean look any day of the week.
Below I have compiled a list (that will very likely continue to grow as I remember different models of guns or get recommendations from other wise individuals) of some good quality, small-size pocket pistols that may be considered if you do feel you need a smaller, more concealable firearm:
Ruger LCP KelTec P3AT Ruger LCR S&W J-frame Revolvers (especially in an aluminum or scandium frame) SIG 238 Taurus 738 series S&W Bodyguard 380 Kahr P380 Kahr PM9
What's going on with your baby?
This is also the time to note that your babies external ears are starting to form. The inner ear (the part that constitutes hearing) won't form for another six to ten weeks so you still have a little time before you have to worry about the noise issue. It is coming, however, and knowing at what exact stage your growing child is developing is crucial in understanding when such limitations take effect. Unless you know you exact conception date or have had an early ultrasound to determine almost the exact gestational age (the later the ultrasound the harder it is to determine exact gestational age) of your baby it would be best to err on the side of caution and stop all trips to the range around your eleventh week of pregnancy. If you are fortunate enough to know your exact conception date it's time to wrap up any shooting without a silencer between twelve and thirteen weeks.