Most people enjoy the relaxation that comes with a hot tub or sauna. One question that most pregnant women have is whether or not they are safe during this critical period. The issue comes from the hot temperatures and the effects it could create for the mother and the fetus.
It is typically recommended to avoid the hot temperatures of hot tubs, saunas and juacuzzis while pregnant.
Although further research needs to be conducted, the concern is with the possibility of birth defects to the fetus.
Risks increase with higher temperatures and longer amounts of time spent in the higher temperatures.
A safer option is a warm bath due to the natural cooling of the water and the ability to keep your upper body out.
Are they safe during pregnancy?
There's nothing like soaking in a hot tub or enjoying the steam of a sauna when you have sore muscles or want to relax. There can be a lot of conflicting information on the internet. Unfortunately, there needs to be more research before there can be a definitive answer to this question.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Organization of Teratology Information Services express concern about this issue.
They both advise against using hot tubs or saunas because of the concern for when the pregnant women's body temperature rises above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. When your body increases to this temperature, for pregnant women, it has the possibility of causing birth defects in the fetus.
Another issue comes from the risk of dehydration from the heat. You can become overheated from the high temperatures, resulting in heavy sweating and a fast pulse. Excessive sweating leads to a loss of fluid within your body. If you are not replacing what you lose, you will eventually become dehydrated.
Being adequately hydrated during pregnancy is critical to the well-being of both mother and fetus. Amniotic fluid, which plays a crucial role in the development of a fetus, is affected by hydration.
Is this problem applicable to hot tubs, saunas, and baths?
Warm baths are best
Probably the safest method for pregnant women to enjoy the warmer water would be taking a warm bath. Ensure that the water is not scalding hot and that you can sit comfortably.
This method allows the upper half of your body to stay out of the water, which will help keep you cooled off.
What about saunas?
Saunas use dry heat or steam to warm the room. Temperatures can rise to 176 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in a sauna, causing your pulse to increase, and sweating.
Could this sweating cool you? Possibly. However, you will still become overheated, so avoiding the sauna while pregnant is best.
What about hot tubs or Jacuzzis?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that it's best if pregnant women do not use a hot tub or Jacuzzi early in pregnancy, because of the possibility for risks related to the development of the fetus.
Spas and Jacuzzis use very hot water to maintain a very high temperature. So they will constantly heat and cycle out the cold water.
Is there a time limit for use?
Time is of the essence when it comes to how long pregnant women can sit in a hot tub or a sauna. The human body can rise in temperature in a very short amount of time. Getting to the threshold of 102 degrees Fahrenheit takes about 10 to 20 minutes.
Some people may not even start to feel uncomfortable for this short amount of time, so limiting the time spent in the water to under 10 minutes is best. Although avoiding them altogether, especially during the first trimester, is ideal.
One study suggests that pregnant women who use a hot tub more than once and for long periods have an increased risk for birth defects. However, this subject requires further research.
What is the concern?
A sauna or hot tub is bad during pregnancy, specifically during early pregnancy or the first trimester, because this is the time period when the fetus is developing.
The developing brain is sensitive to high temperatures, and there is potential for developmental and genetic abnormalities to occur when the mother's core temperature rises too high.
These types of defects are called neural tube defects. They are birth defects in the fetus's brain, spine, or spinal cord and happen in the first month of pregnancy.
Another study suggested that extreme heat exposure could create heart defects in fetuses when exposed during the first trimester.
Additionally, exposure to hot temperatures, such as those found in a sauna or hot tub, raises concerns about miscarriage. One study that examined pregnant women exposed to a hot tub or Jacuzzi early in pregnancy found that there might be a risk of miscarriage.
They also found that the risk of miscarriage increased with higher temperatures and longer soaking times. This means the chances for miscarriage went up with the hotter water and longer time spent in these conditions. More research needs to be performed in future studies, however.
Most healthcare professionals urge caution against using hot tubs or saunas because there is reasonably prominent evidence that the high temperatures from hot tubs and saunas can cause issues in the developing fetus. There are ways to reduce this risk by adjusting the machines' temperatures and limiting the time spent in them. However, it is probably safer not to use a hot tub or sauna altogether while pregnant and to stick to a nice warm bath for relaxation.