Hot Tubs and Pregnancy

The facts about pregnancy and hot tubs

As weight gain, muscle changes and fatigue ramp up, it would seem that pregnancy and hot tubs go hand in hand. After all, if people who aren't suffering through the pains of pregnancy enjoy the relaxing qualities of a bubbling tub, it would be nothing short of a blessing for moms-to-be, right? Unfortunately, there are some risks associated with hot tubs and pregnancy, and it's important to know just where these dangers come from so you don't jeopardize your baby's safety. Learn why you need to be careful with hot tubs when you're expecting and some viable alternatives for relief and comfort.


Pregnancy and Overheating

Studies suggest that a baby's development can be severely affected by hot conditions, so overheating, or hyperthermia, is a central concern in pregnancy. The first few months in particular require a constant, controlled body temperature to prevent neural tube defects in your developing baby.

But since many expectant mothers feel hotter than average throughout pregnancy, how can you tell if you're abnormally hot? The Organization of Teratology Information Services insists that a body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit and above can cause problems in the pregnancy, while The American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes that the tipping point is 102.2 degrees. In either case, normal daily activities -- including regular, moderate exercise -- shouldn't bring any risk of overheating. On the other hand, relaxing in a hot tub, sauna or steam room can pose some danger.

Why it's Dangerous to Use Hot Tubs While Pregnant

Hot tubs are typically programmed to maintain a temperature of around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and it only takes between 10 and 20 minutes in a hot tub for your core temperature to reach 102 degrees or above. Although many people tend to get out of the heat at the point of discomfort, your body will be more accepting of the heat if you relax in hot water or hot air frequently. Although heat is great for muscle aches and pregnancy back pain, it's important to re-program your hot tub to keep the water at a lower temperature and cut back your time in the tub to less than 10 minutes.

Hot baths while pregnant are safer than hot tubs for a few reasons. For one, a bath typically won't get as hot as a hot tub, and as long as it isn't scalding or uncomfortably hot, it will not affect your body temperature as quickly or as drastically. Secondly, more of your body remains outside the water in a conventional bathtub, which should keep your core temperature in a comfortable range. Lastly, whereas a hot tub is maintained at a constant high temperature, hot bath water will begin to cool off almost immediately, which naturally reduces your chances of overheating.