Hot baths and pregnancy
One of the best things you can do for yourself during pregnancy is to find ways to relax and unwind.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful time for a woman but it’s easy to underestimate the toll it can take on your body. In addition to everyday stressors a woman experiences, pregnancy hormones can really shake things up. From morning sickness to muscle aches and racing emotions, pregnancy can cause many women excessive stress.
Stress and pregnancy don’t match very well. Every now and again, it’s ok to feel anxious, worried or nervous. But extreme and continuous levels of stress may affect your growing baby. And impact on your enjoyment of pregnancy.
Finding time to zone out and rest may seem like an impossible task, especially if you’re working right through your pregnancy. Taking just 15 minutes each day to close your eyes and put your feet up will do you the world of good. You don’t need to find a whole hour.
Taking a warm bath is a great way to relax at the end of a long day. However, while you are pregnant remember to check that your bath water isn’t scolding hot. Exposing yourself to excessively high temperatures can potentially cause you to overheat and may even harm your unborn baby.
The problem with hot baths and pregnancy
When you take a hot bath your core body temperature rises. Ordinarily, this poses no immediate health threat to you. However during pregnancy, if your body temperature gets too high and you get hyperthermia your baby could be at risk.
Overheating can cause a number of birth defects, especially in the first trimester- (12 weeks) when the baby’s organs are developing. The brain and the spinal cord are the most vulnerable organs affected by hyperthermia. Spina Bifida is one neural tube condition.
The other problem with excessively hot bath water is it may lower your blood pressure. This could affect the blood flow to your baby which may potentially be dangerous at any stage of your pregnancy. You might also begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy or even nauseated which is never fun. Another risk of lowered blood pressure is that it increases the risks of fainting and falling over.
Be cautious about spending time in a hot spa or sauna as well. The risk of overheating in these is even greater. This is because while a bath will gradually cool down, the temperature of a spa or sauna is maintained at a consistently high level.
Generally the advice from health professionals is for pregnant women to avoid using spas and saunas.
Your safest option
To date, there aren’t any established limitations on how long and up to what temperature a pregnant woman can safely remain in a hot environment.
Every woman and her pregnancy are unique. But as a general rule it’s safest for pregnant women to avoid using a hot tub, sauna, Jacuzzi or spa.
When you run a bath, test the water temperature with your elbow or forearm before you get in. These parts of your arm are more sensitive to heat and will give you a better estimate. The water should be warm enough so that you can jump straight in and not inch in bit by bit. Once you’re in, if you notice that your skin becomes red or if you start sweating, the water is likely to be too hot.