Are Hot Baths Bad, Dangerous, or Unsafe for a Pregnant Woman?
Many pregnant women wonder if it is safe to take a hot bath during pregnancy. No, it is not safe to take a hot bath while pregnant because a woman’s core body temperature could be raised to a dangerously high level. Hot tubs, hot showers, saunas, and extremely strenuous exercise are not safe during pregnancy either for the same reason. Warm baths and other relaxation and stress-reduction techniques, however, are safe during pregnancy.
Core Body Temperature During Pregnancy
Research has shown that pregnant women who experience a core body temperature of over 102 degrees during early pregnancy (the first trimester) as a result of a fever or other causes are at increased risk of miscarriage or having an infant with birth defects. Overheating can cause a woman’s heart rate to increase and reduce blood flow to the fetus, which puts the baby at risk. To be on the safe side, it is best not to elevate core body temperature in later pregnancy either.
Warm Baths During Pregnancy
It is safe for a pregnant woman to relax in a warm bath. Bath water that is close in temperature to a woman’s body temperature is okay. In other words, if the bath water is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe. Also, since a woman’s upper body is outside of the water, bathing in a warm tub is healthy.
To make sure that the bath tub water is not too hot, test the water with the forearm or elbow. The skin in these areas is very sensitive to temperature. If the water temperature feels comfortable, it is not too hot. If it is necessary to gingerly step into the water, it is too hot. If the skin turns red or dizziness or sweating are experienced, the bath is too hot.
Alternatives to Hot Baths for Pregnancy Stress Relief and Relaxation
Warm showers are good options for relieving stress, relaxing, and easing muscle aches during pregnancy. Warm showers do not raise a pregnant woman’s core body temperature as quickly as baths do because the body is not submerged in water. A heating pad is also a safe way to lessen pregnancy tension and reduce pregnancy aches and pains since it applies heat to a localized area, thus not raising the core body temperature.
There are also a plethora of other options to relax during pregnancy. Swimming in a cool pool, participating in pregnancy yoga, getting a pregnancy massage, and meditating can be beneficial for stress reduction for pregnant women.
Hot Baths Not Healthy for Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, hot baths are not a good idea because the woman’s core body temperature could be dangerously elevated, leading to birth complications. Instead of soaking in a hot bath, opt to relax in a warm tub with water that is close to body temperature. Other pregnancy stress-relief techniques include taking a warm shower or applying a heating pad to sore or tense muscles.