If you’re pregnant, you’re aware of how difficult it may be to relax at some points. The baby is pressing on your back and pelvis, and it’s not unlikely that you’ve had to face many of the symptoms that come with pregnancy. All that you want is some relaxation and time to calm down.
One of the most popular ways in which people choose to wind down is by taking a dip in their hot tub. This is due to the fact that warm water provides many health benefits, including pain relief and relaxation. But are hot tubs really the best option for pregnant women?
The answer is no. Doctors and researchers have shown that hot tubs should ideally not be used at all when you are pregnant, although some women choose to proceed with caution. Most agree that hot tubs can be a source of serious concern for pregnant women, so they should be avoided.
In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons why hot tubs are considered to be dangerous for pregnant women, how they can impact you and the baby, and what you can do to relax instead.
Reason #1: The temperature can impact your body
It’s certainly well known that getting in a hot tub makes the temperature of your body increase. This is what provides for that ultimate relaxing experience.
However, this is another story entirely when you’re pregnant. This is the main concern that medical professionals have regarding the use of hot tubs during pregnancy. As a rule, it is recommended that you avoid situations that would cause your overall body temperature to be above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why it’s important for you to avoid getting sick and contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever while pregnant. And if you spend quite a bit of time in a hot tub that is 104 degrees, having an increase in your body temperature can easily happen.
Why is this dangerous?
When you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy, the chances of your baby developing birth defects are a lot higher. When you’re exposing yourself to hot tubs and bringing your body temperature up, this can be the perfect environment for your baby to develop birth defects such as issues with the spinal cord and brain. Since hot tubs are generally programmed to operate at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, all it takes is 10 to 20 minutes for your body temperature to rise above 102 degrees and potentially cause problems.
There have been studies conducted that show the increased risk of birth defects and even miscarriages after exposure to high temperatures before implantation and during the first trimester. Although these studies were more so involving fevers, this is where the overall concern comes from. So, our advice here is to definitely speak with your doctor before getting in a hot tub to relax.
Reason #2: Exposure to Germs
Some people don’t like to get in other people’s hot tubs because it’s impossible to know whether or not the person cleaned it properly. But even if the hot tub does belong to you, it’s important to know that they are breeding grounds for bacteria because of the moist and warm environment they provide. You may want to avoid being exposed to such germs and bacteria if you’re pregnant, especially if this is a hot tub that other people have used. Hot tubs can contain germs from other people, including urine and fecal matter, sweat, oil, and other substances that you would want to limit your exposure to whether you’re pregnant or not.
If you want some peace of mind, you can choose to get a disinfectant and test the water for chlorine levels, bromine, and pH. If you use chlorine in your hot tub, you should keep the levels between 2 and 4 ppm, and if you use bromine, it should be between 4 and 7 ppm. It is recommended that you keep the pH between 7.2 and 7.8.
Reason #3: Increased risk of dehydration
When you’re pregnant, your body naturally goes through a lot of changes. This also means that your risk of becoming dehydrated, dizzy, and having low blood pressure will also increase. So, this is where doctors recommend that you make the appropriate changes in your lifestyle.
One thing that’s important to note, then, is that being exposed to such high temperatures can make you feel faint, dizzy, and dehydrated when you’re pregnant. This is obviously not good for your health or for the baby. If you do choose to get in the hot tub at all, as soon as you start to feel any of these side effects or symptoms, you need to get out immediately.
How to Use the Hot Tub Safely
Despite some of the potential risks, some women still prefer to use the hot tub when they’re pregnant. And if you’ve spoken to your doctor and have been given the OK, then there is most likely no danger in you using it. If you have any chronic illnesses or other complications with your pregnancy, you should avoid the hot tub completely. However, that doesn’t mean that you can simply jump in and start to use the hot tub as you did in the past. Here are some important things to note when you get in the hot tub while pregnant.
- Lower the temperature and keep monitoring it with a thermometer. While some of the other people you’re using the hot tub with might not appreciate this, it’s best for you to keep the temperature down if you plan on using the hot tub while pregnant. It’s recommended that you keep it between 97 and 98 degrees. Also, you should keep a thermometer with you to keep an eye on the temperature so that it won’t fluctuate.
- Limit the amount of time you spend in the hot tub. It’s generally recommended that pregnant women only spend 10 minutes in the hot tub. This will reduce any risks and it won’t allow your body temperature to rise too much. However, spending 10 minutes in the hot tub will still be enough time to provide you with the relaxation that you desire. This is also the case if you decide to simply soak your feet.
- Immediately get out if you start to feel dizzy or unwell. As soon as you start to feel dizzy, faint, hot, or nauseated, get out of the hot tub immediately. This also goes for if you start to sweat so that you can avoid overheating.
- Use the rails and hold on tightly. If your hot tub has a banister or railing, be sure to hold on to that when you get in and out. Otherwise, be careful to make sure that you don’t slip in your hot tub and hold on to any support you have tightly.
- Avoid sitting near the jets. If you sit near the gets or any inlets where there is new water flow, you will generally be exposed to hot water, which is not desirable. These jets are usually near the seats and the floor jets. Try to sit on the opposite side of where these jets are, which is where cooler water is flowing.
- Try to sit in a position where your chest or lower half is outside the water. Even if you can safely use a hot tub while pregnant, you should not keep your entire body underwater. It’s generally recommended that you get in the water up to your neck, or if you can just stick the lower half of your body in the hot tub (i.e., your legs and feet), then that’s even better.
- Do not get in if you have a fever. If you have a fever while pregnant, of course, you should contact your doctor immediately. But you should especially not use the hot tub so as to avoid increasing your body temperature any further.
Perfect Ways to Relax While Pregnant
If you’ve decided not to take any potential risks while pregnant, there are still some great ways in which you can relax that will be completely safe for you and your unborn baby.
- Take a hot bath. While you might wonder if this is also dangerous, the temperature of the bath starts to decrease as soon as the faucet is turned off. Also, you aren’t as deeply submerged in the water, so your chances of overheating significantly decrease. The temperature of a hot bath is also not as high as that of a hot tub, which means that you can safely take a hot bath to relax while pregnant.
- Get a spa treatment. Spa treatments are generally safe when you’re pregnant. If you want to be extra sure, you can always go to a specialist who is trained in prenatal treatments. Getting a spa treatment and a massage is a great way to relax without the possibility of hurting you or the baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I have a miscarriage if I get in the hot tub?
There have not been too many studies referring to miscarriages specifically, although there is certainly a possibility of miscarrying if you stay in the hot tub for too long. Some studies have shown that experiencing hyperthermia during your first trimester could increase the chances of having a miscarriage, but other studies have shown that this is not the case.
However, the chances of your baby developing birth defects when you’re exposed to high temperatures do increase, and depending on what kind of birth defects they are, it is possible to have a miscarriage. In short, it’s obviously not guaranteed that you will have a miscarriage, but you should also not be too reckless.
Will my baby be born with birth defects if I get in the hot tub?
Of course, every woman and every baby is different, so it is impossible to say that you will absolutely have a baby born with birth defects if you get into a hot tub. The fact is, however, that some studies have shown that the risk of babies being born with birth defects can increase.
These studies were largely conducted in pregnant women who had high fevers, but considering the fact that getting into a hot tub for long periods of time can also lead to an increase in your body’s temperature, it is easy to see where the concern of doctors and other researchers lies. There is a possibility of babies developing neural tube defects when the mother is exposed to high temperatures.
Can pregnant women use saunas or jacuzzis?
It is also not generally recommended that pregnant women use saunas or jacuzzis for the same reason that hot tubs are not recommended. Both can reach the same temperatures as hot tubs and could potentially be dangerous for pregnant women.
Can I use hot tubs during the second and third trimesters?
Since the second and third trimesters tend to not be as risky as the first trimester, and since you are more likely to deal with pain in your body at this time, doctors typically are not as worried about the use of hot tubs. So, they generally recommend that you proceed with caution. Do not use the hot tub for prolonged periods of time and make sure to keep an eye on how you’re feeling while you use it.
Overall, the risks of using a hot tub while pregnant are certainly not guaranteed. But you want to avoid doing anything while pregnant that has the potential to cause problems. Hot tubs themselves are not as much of an issue as the effects of high temperatures are. So, it is definitely something worth talking to your doctor about if you truly want to use a hot tub as a method of relaxation during your pregnancy. Once your doctor says it’s safe, you will want to make sure that you exercise some of the precautions we outlined above. We hope you have a safe pregnancy.