Pregnant women may often experience body aches. To curb and manage these symptoms, women may consider indulging in a hot shower or soak themselves in a warm water tub. However, pregnant women may wonder if it is safe to use hot tubs in pregnancy. Read this post to learn about the safety, benefits, and side effects of hot water bathing in pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Take A Hot Water Bath During Pregnancy?
It is safe to take a hot water bath during pregnancy if the water is not too hot. In general, health experts recommend pregnant women to avoid hot water as it elevates body temperature, which could be risky for the baby.
Also, hot water baths are not safe when you have vaginal bleeding or ruptured membranes. To prevent burns on the skin, test the water temperature with your wrist or forearm and see if you are comfortable with it.
Also, if the water is too hot, it can increase your body temperature to above normal.
What Temperature Should The Bath Water Be For A Pregnant Woman?
The water should ideally be between 92°F/ 33°C and 98°F/ 36.3°C, i.e., warm or tepid.
Also, your body temperature should not go above 102.2°F or 38.9°C when you are in a bathtub filled with hot water (1). If the temperature crosses this limit, it can lead to the following complications for you and your baby.
- Drop in blood pressure levels, which can deprive oxygen supply to the fetus
- Weakness and dizziness
- Birth defects in the first trimester
What Are The Side Effects Of A Hot Water Bath During Pregnancy?
A hot bath can increase your core body temperature, which can be dangerous for the baby as well.
- In the first trimester, a hot water bath can affect the brain and spinal cord development of the fetus, leading to neural tube defects such as spina bifida (2).
- It will also lower your blood pressure, making you feel sick or faint. This will, therefore, affect the blood flow to the baby (3).
Is it safe to use saunas, Jacuzzis and hot tubs in pregnancy?
No, it is better to avoid sauna or Jacuzzi as they are likely to increase the risks of dehydration, overheating and fainting.
- Women usually tend to feel warmer during pregnancy due to hormone changes and increased blood circulation. Additional rise in the temperature when in a sauna or Jacuzzi can up the temperature to a risky level.
- Hot jets from the Jacuzzi will alter the blood circulation, and the pressure can strain your baby.
- Steam from the sauna increases your core temperature and alters the fetal heart rate, which can lead to harmful stress for the baby (4).
- Extremely hot water in the bath could lead to exhaustion, dizziness, and dehydration.
- The high temperatures in the tub can shock the body system and lead to a miscarriage or premature labor.
Can A Hot Bath Cause A Miscarriage During Early Pregnancy?
However, further studies are required to find a concrete association between the duration and frequency of showering in the early stages of pregnancy and miscarriage or congenital disabilities in the baby.
Meanwhile, a bath in reasonably hot water can be beneficial to you during pregnancy.
Benefits Of Hot Water Bath During Pregnancy
A warm water bath can be physically and mentally relaxing during pregnancy (6) and offers the following benefits.
- Soothes tired muscles and relaxes the tense muscles that are stressed due to weight gain during pregnancy.
- Eases premature contractions, and reduces swelling (edema) around the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Relieves pain, and hence several mothers use it for pain relief during labor.
- A warm bath before bedtime induces sound sleep and helps fight pregnancy insomnia.
- Warm baths, along with essential oils, relax the body and nurture the skin, thereby providing relief from cramps.
- Soaking in a tub of warm water mixed with rock salt helps relax the muscles and improves the amniotic fluid levels (7).
Can You Use A Hot Tub When Pregnant?
No. Use of hot tubs is not recommended during pregnancy as it can increase the core body temperature and affect fetal development. In the first trimester, it might lead to neural tube defects and miscarriage, and later cause dehydration in moms (2).
A hot bath is safer than a hot tub, as the water in the bath cools down quickly whereas the water temperature remains hot in a tub. Also, in a hot bath, your upper body is out of the water as opposed to a hot tub where you submerge entirely.
That said, a hot bath will also pose risks if the water is too hot and the duration of the bath is too long. Try to monitor and maintain a safe body temperature to avoid the risks of a hot bath.
Is It Safe To Try A Hot Bath To Induce Labor?
So, test the water by putting your forearm or elbow in it. If your skin becomes inflamed or starts to sweat, the water is probably very hot.
You may use warm or tepid water for a bath during pregnancy. If you enjoy indulging in hot showers to soothe yourself, you may want to continue it during pregnancy too. You could do so, provided your water temperature is not too high. Note that it is better you avoid using hot tubs in pregnancy to safeguard yourself and your unborn from the risk of complications. Also, experts suggest that a very hot bath is not advisable during pregnancy as it could increase your core body temperature and pose a risk of adverse outcomes for you and your fetus.