Is It Safe To Take A Hot Water Bath During Pregnancy?

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A hot shower or soak in a warm water tub might sound like a good idea when you have body aches during pregnancy. But are hot baths safe for moms-to-be?

MomJunction helps you understand the risks and benefits of a hot water bath, and whether or not it is good during 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.

[Read: Drinking Hot Water During Pregnancy]

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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

So, it is best to avoid hot tubs, saunas, Jacuzzi and steam baths that can increase your body temperature quickly, during pregnancy.

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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.

  1. 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).
  1. It will also lower your blood pressure, making you feel sick or faint. This will, therefore, affect the blood flow to the baby (3).

[Read: Is It Safe To Use A Heating Pad During Pregnancy]

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. Hot jets from the Jacuzzi will alter the blood circulation, and the pressure can strain your baby.
  1. Steam from the sauna increases your core temperature and alters the fetal heart rate, which can lead to harmful stress for the baby (4).
  1. Extremely hot water in the bath could lead to exhaustion, dizziness, and dehydration.
  1. The high temperatures in the tub can shock the body system and lead to a miscarriage or premature labor.

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Can A Hot Bath Cause A Miscarriage During Early Pregnancy?

A hot water bath during early pregnancy could result in a miscarriage, and the risk is higher when you have frequent hot water baths with very hot water (5).

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.

[Read: Hair & Foot Spa Do’s & Don’ts In Pregnancy]

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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.

  1. Soothes tired muscles and relaxes the tense muscles that are stressed due to weight gain during pregnancy.
  1. Eases premature contractions, and reduces swelling (edema) around the legs, ankles, and feet.
  1. Relieves pain, and hence several mothers use it for pain relief during labor.
  1. A warm bath before bedtime induces sound sleep and helps fight pregnancy insomnia.
  1. Warm baths, along with essential oils, relax the body and nurture the skin, thereby providing relief from cramps.
  1. Soaking in a tub of warm water mixed with rock salt helps relax the muscles and improves the amniotic fluid levels (7).

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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).

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Hot Tubs vs. Hot Baths: What Is Safe During Pregnancy?

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.

[Read: Is It Safe To Use Body Scrubs In Pregnancy]

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Is It Safe To Try A Hot Bath To Induce Labor?

A warm bath is relaxing and a better option to induce labor (8). But if the water is too hot, your baby will feel hotter and stressed inside.

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.

The bottom line is that a hot bath, sauna or hot tub is alright as long as it does not affect your core body temperature or cause stress. But if you feel uncomfortable, avoid hot water baths. If the effects last long after the bath or a sauna session, go to your doctor.

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What was your experience with hot water baths and saunas while pregnant? Share it with us through the comment section.

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Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more