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Can Pregnant Women Take Baths? What You Need to Know

Taking long, hot baths while pregnant is not only relaxing, it soothes your tired, achy muscles and relieves pain. But is it actually safe for your baby? Next, Flo reveals all the ins and outs of bathing during pregnancy.

A woman bathing during pregnancy

Can you take baths while pregnant?

Yes, generally speaking, it’s fine for pregnant women to bathe in this manner, with a couple of minor conditions. The water can’t be too hot, and the bath can’t last for too long.

Sitting in hot water for an extended period of time may lead to hyperthermia. When this occurs, your body temperature becomes abnormally high.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, your core temperature should never exceed 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit during pregnancy. It only takes 10 minutes in a hot bathtub, where the water is at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit, to raise your temperature to this potentially unsafe level.

Consequences of hyperthermia include:

  • A drop in blood pressure which deprives your baby of oxygen and other nutrients; increasing the chances for miscarriage
  • Weakness, dizziness, and fainting
  • A greater likelihood of birth complications (e.g., neural tube defects), particularly if the exposure occurred during the first trimester

Can pregnant women take baths in any trimester?

Bathing at any point during the pregnancy can be perfectly safe if, and only if, the proper steps are taken.

First trimester

  • Use warm or tepid water.
  • Limit baths to 10 minutes or less.
  • Buy organic bath products, free of toxic chemicals.
  • Monitor the water temperature with a thermometer to ensure it stays below 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Second trimester

  • Bathe regularly until your doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Test the water temperature before getting into the tub.
  • Take shorter showers and baths to reduce your chances for developing vaginal infections.
  • If you’re experiencing leg pain, soak just your legs in hot water – not your entire body.

Third trimester

  • Use warm or tepid water.
  • Pay close attention to warning signs and symptoms, such as lack of sweating, nausea, dizziness, or discomfort of any kind. If this occurs, get out of the tub immediately.
  • Since your balance and mobility might be impaired at this stage, ask for assistance getting in and out of the bath.

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Additional safety tips

A few more things to bear in mind when bathing during pregnancy:

  • Monitor your body temperature while bathing to prevent overheating.
  • Never take a hot bath when you have a fever.
  • If you begin sweating profusely, get out of the tub immediately and cool yourself down by drinking lots of water.
  • Do not use bath salts, bubble baths, or any products containing BPA liners, phthalates, etc. These chemicals can alter your vaginal pH and lead to the development of vaginal thrush.
  • Similarly, eliminate bath oils from your daily routine as they may cause allergic reactions, early labor, or even miscarriage.
  • Body scrubs are also off-limits during pregnancy since they contain Epsom salt, which robs your body of moisture and natural oils. Your skin will feel dry and extra sensitive.
  • Place nonslip mats on your bathroom floor to prevent slip and fall injuries.
  • While in the bathtub, try not to submerge your head, upper chest, arms, and shoulders. This decreases the chances of your body overheating as you bathe.
  • Steer clear of all hot tubs, saunas, steam baths, and other extremely warm environments.

Alternatives to hot baths while pregnant

A warm soak in a bathtub - the safest alternative to hot baths while pregnant

The safest alternative to hot baths while pregnant is a warm or tepid soak in your bathtub. You’ll enjoy all the benefits of a hot bath without risking your health or your baby’s health.

Nevertheless, always keep a close eye on the temperature of the water as well as your own body temperature. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated throughout the process, and get out of the tub immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Like many pregnant women, your sorest, achiest muscles are in your legs, ankles, and feet. If this is the case, consider soaking just the lower half of your body in warm water to alleviate pain.

Overall, you should try your best to limit the number of hot baths you take while pregnant. Substitute other activities that encourage rest and relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, or going on long walks. 

https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/hot-tubs-during-pregnancy/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/pregnancy-and-hot-tubs/faq-20057844

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16933304

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21648056

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/pregnancy-precautions.html

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/taking-baths-when-pregnant-is-it-safe/

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/hot-tubs

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