Can I Have a Hot Bath When Pregnant?
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Being pregnant can be hard work on your body and you will get aches and pains from time to time. Some women like to take a refreshing shower, while others like to relax in a nice warm bath to soothe those aching muscles. Taking a warm bath can help to reduce uncomfortable swelling in the arms and legs, increase the amniotic fluid and prevent premature contractions.
However, it is important that you take care when having a hot bath due to the risks to your unborn baby. If the bath water is too hot it could raise your body's core temperature. Tests have been performed on animals, which suggest that taking a hot bath can cause serious birth defects affecting the baby's brain and spine. These birth defects are known as Neural Tube Defects (NTD), Spina Bifida being one such example.
Taking a hot bath in pregnancy can increase your heart rate and lower your blood pressure making you feel sick or light-headed. This can cause stress to your baby. Low blood pressure during pregnancy is unsafe because the blood flow to your baby is affected. This is unsafe at any stage of pregnancy.
Do not use hot tubs or saunas during pregnancy because the heat is maintained at a constant level. In a bath the water cools more quickly which reduces the chance of prolonged exposure on the body to high temperatures. This is safer for you and your baby.
It is important to ensure that someone else is around when you take a bath so that they can help should you suddenly feel unwell. Also, towards the end of your pregnancy when your bump is at its biggest it can be very difficult to get out of the bath unaided. It is recommended that you use a bath mat to prevent slipping; the last thing you want is a back injury just before you are about to give birth.
So what temperature is safe for bathing while pregnant? Run a bath and test the water with your elbow or forearm as you would if you were running a bath for a baby. The skin here is more sensitive to change in temperature than your hands and would turn red quickly. The water should feel warm enough that you could get straight into the bath without having to edge yourself in bit by bit and without making you perspire, this means that it is close to your own body temperature, which is safe.