A hot bath soothes your pain, aching body and refreshes your mind. It also helps you relax after a long tiring day. When pregnant, you may experience body aches, tiredness, and pains. Thus, you may choose to opt for long hot showers while pregnant to get some relief from the pain. But the question that arises here is “Are long hot showers really safe for a pregnant woman?” Well, the answer is not as simple as it may look like.
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Taking Hot Showers While Pregnant
Taking a hot shower while pregnant can be a safe option if you are not letting your body get overheated. Therefore, it is essential to understand what the term “hot” actually means here. In some instances, the doctor may even recommend you a warm bath as it will help you soothe the pain while allowing you to relax. However, you must restrain yourself from taking long hot baths as it can overheat your body which can have a harmful effect on your unborn baby.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, hot showers must be avoided as it can lead to possible congenital disabilities in the fetus. Moreover, during the later stages of pregnancy, i.e., during the second and the third trimester, extremely hot baths can lead to dehydration which can cause a number of complications in the unborn baby.
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Are Hot Tubs The Alternative?
No, hot tubs are not alternative to hot showers and should be avoided during pregnancy. Hot tubs pose health and development risk to the unborn baby as when you are soaking in the tub; the body temperature can rise quickly causing your body to overheat. This will further lead to hyperthermia which is a condition caused by the overheating of the body and leads to a steep fall in the blood pressure.
During pregnancy, there is approximately 50% more blood which is running in the body and a low BP often decrease the amount of oxygen and nutrients which are being passed on to the baby. Therefore, it can lead to complications for the unborn baby.
When you are taking hot showers during pregnancy, you may not experience a rise in your body temperature immediately. However, raising the body temperature beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to serious complications. Hence, it is best to avoid long hot showers while you are pregnant.
Are Hot Baths Safe During Pregnancy?
As a pregnant woman, you want to stay comfortable while thinking about the safety of your child as well. Here are some possible effects of hot showers during pregnancy on baby and mother.
Effects on Mother
Long hot baths or saunas can increase the core body temperature which can increase the risk of congenital neural disabilities in babies while causing dehydration in mothers. Hot baths can cause heat exhaustion leading to weakness, irritability, confusion, thirst or blurred vision in mothers.
The heat can also cause cramps in legs or lead to fainting, due to a decrease in blood pressure, in some instances. If you are opting for saunas, it increases the risk of heat strokes and can even lead to a life-threatening emergency condition. Therefore, it is important to avoid hot tubs and saunas while you are pregnant and maintain a bath temperature when pregnant.
Effect on the Baby
With the increase in the core body temperature of the mother, the fetus can get severely affected. The common birth effects generally associated with an increase in the mother’s body temperature are the ones that affect brain and spine of the fetus.
Neural Tube Defects or NTD is spinal cord and brain defects that are caused by hot temperature. The first trimester is vital for the spinal development and safe neural tube formation; therefore, you should not opt for hot showers during first trimester.
Increase in the mother’s body temperature increases her heart rate and blood supply. Thus, as the blood supply increases to the skin, the blood supply to the fetus decreases which can further leads to complications.
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Hot Baths and Birth Defects
Hot baths and saunas are often linked to birth defects in babies. Babies of women who use saunas or opt for hot showers during pregnancy are at higher risk of spina bifida or brain defects as compared to women who choose to avoid them.
Exposing fetus to heat, whether from hot water shower or from fever to the mother are at a higher risk of developing neurological defects. Apart from neural tube defect in babies, the babies may experience other problems such as gastroschisis or oesophageal atresia.
However, there have been no reports of women giving birth to stillborn babies if they choose to spend 20 minutes daily in a sauna. However, it’s still best to skip sauna altogether while you are pregnant.
Safety Concern to Keep in Mind
While taking hot baths in late pregnancy or at any time throughout the pregnancy cycle, there are few safety concerns, which you must keep in mind. These are:
- You should never ignore the signals of discomfort or overheat given out by your body.
- Fainting is a crucial sign of overheating. However, there are plenty of other signs that you must look into before you faint. These signs include increased sweating, redness of skin, difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, dizziness and more
- Choose to have slightly warm showers or cool water shower, instead of hot water baths.
- If you want to opt for a relaxing shower, choose to go in with scented candles or essential oil instead of hot baths.
- Blurred vision and dehydration are also signs of overheating.
- You can even ask your partner to join you to give you a back massage as it will help you relax and dissolve any stress.
- Pregnancy can increase the distance between you and your partner, therefore taking a bath together can help you bond, and take out some time for each other.
- Make sure to keep the bath time short during pregnancy.
Alternative Ways to Relax
Instead of opting for hot shower throughout the pregnancy, you can look for alternatives to relax.
A great alternative to relax your muscles and calm yourself during your pregnancy is to try yoga. It releases endorphins naturally which are necessary for relaxation and is an excellent way to stay fit throughout the pregnancy. However, do poses that is only suitable for pregnant, though.
You can even opt for a cooling shower or sign up for swimming sessions at a pool near you. While a cooling shower may not sound as relaxing as a sauna, it will release pressure off your joints and bones thus leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If you have muscle pain, using cold packs will help too.
Meditation is an excellent way to calm yourself down and alleviate anxiety. It does not need special props or setting and can be performed in the comfort of your bedroom. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes daily to focus on nothing but your breathing.
When Should You Shower During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women should pay attention to their hygiene, the water temperature, time for bathing and a lot of other things. It is essential they choose to skip bathing with very hot water as it can be harmful to their health as well as the health of their baby.
During pregnancy, your body is extremely sensitive; therefore, choose not to bath after you just wake up or when it’s too late at night. You need to pick a suitable time during the day when your body is ready for bathing. Just making sure taking a shower at a cool temperature will be fine.
Choose not to bath when you are feeling tired or soon after eating. Also, pay attention to the water temperature as taking cold showers during pregnancy or extremely hot showers are not suitable for the baby and your health as well.
And the Right Temperature Is…
Are you thinking “What is the right temperature of water to take a bath with during pregnancy?” Well, doctors recommend taking short baths with lukewarm water instead of taking hot showers during pregnancy.
The safe temperature for bathing is generally 37 degrees Celsius or 98 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a safe temperature because your body is at a similar temperature. While the sound of hot shower or sauna may seem tempting, make sure to take the necessary precautions and avoid hot shower during pregnancy.