Is it Safe to Take a Hot Bath While Pregnant?

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Is it Safe to Take a Hot Bath While Pregnant?
Baths can give you a little "me" time while pregnant. (milk bath image by forca from Fotolia.com)

Many women find that there's nothing quite as relaxing as taking a bath, especially during pregnancy. In most cases, baths are safe throughout pregnancy, as long as women take care not to make them too hot or stay in too long. Because pregnancy can also significantly affect balance, pregnant women also need to be particularly careful not to fall when getting in and out of the tub.

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Hot Tubs, Bath and Sauna Use During Pregnancy

Most health care experts allow pregnant women to take tub baths throughout pregnancy, as long as the water is no warmer than 37.8 degrees C. Many experts recommend avoiding hot tubs and saunas, however, because these types of hot baths are often warmer than home tubs. They are usually programmed to be 40 degrees C; in those conditions, your temperature could rise to 38.9 degrees C in 10 to 20 minutes.

Bathing During Pregnancy

In general, women must be particularly careful about hot baths during the first two months of pregnancy, as the baby is undergoing critical development that is especially sensitive to overheating. Pregnant women should stay in a hot bath for no longer than they feel comfortable. They should get out of the tub or reduce the temperature as soon as they begin to feel themselves overheating or notice their skin turning pink.

Testing Water Temperature

If you're not sure what temperature your bath water is, consider purchasing a tub thermometer. This way, you can make sure the water is no warmer than 37.8 degrees C. Many baby stores sell bath thermometers that look like rubber duckies or other tub toys, and you can continue to use them after the baby is born to make sure her bath water isn't too warm or too cold.

Benefits of Taking a Bath While Pregnancy

Hot baths can relax muscles that often get sore during pregnancy; they can also help soothe back aches and leg cramps. Baths can be a much safer way to relieve such aches and pains while pregnant than taking over-the-counter drugs or painkillers. For some women, baths can be emotionally relaxing as well because they provide some quiet time alone. Reducing stress levels by taking a hot bath can also benefit the baby.

Warnings About Overheating During Pregnancy

Baths that are too hot can raise your temperature too high. Because the baby has no way to prevent itself from overheating, such as sweating or getting out of the tub, baths that are too hot can be harmful to the baby. Check with your health care provider if you're not sure whether tub baths are safe while you're pregnant, especially if you have complications such as bleeding or signs of preterm labour. Women whose water has broken should not sit in baths of any temperature.

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