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Hot baths

(32 Posts)
mandbaby Wed 02-Apr-14 11:48:24

I had NO idea (and this is my third pregnancy) that you're not supposed to have hot baths while pregnant. I only discovered this today when I had an email from a pregnancy website saying as much.

The other evening, I had a really hot bath and now I'm worried sick! I'm 15+3 and, as yet, haven't felt baby move (I didn't until week 16/17 with my other 2 pregnancies, but until I do feel movement I've obviously got no way of knowing whether things are ok or not).

I'd just like some reassurance please from other pregnant ladies who love a hot bath!

nc060 Wed 02-Apr-14 11:49:56

I dont really buy into that tbh. In my experience though I found I got very lightheaded very quickly when I had a hot bath. I think there is a school of thought that a hot bath is OK as the water cools fairly quickly. There was a thread on here just the other day if you scroll back, I think there was a lot of information in it.

Boogles91 Wed 02-Apr-14 11:54:11

There is another post on here about them...aparently they are fine smile even my mum told me not to but our lil man wakes up everytime i have one, i love relaxing whilst waching my tummy go wild lol people have said they are well insulated from very hot tempretures and its fine but i think they said nearer the end or something like that to have them a bit cooler :s i dont have them too hot but not As hot as my other half though....he barely has cold water in there comes out sporting the new scold look :p lol hope some other peoples comment to help put your mind at ease smile xx

mandbaby Wed 02-Apr-14 11:56:15

The email spelling out the dangers said it was to do with hot baths slow your heart rate down, and if mum's heart rate slows it can put the baby under stress. Like I said, worried sick!

nc060 Wed 02-Apr-14 12:02:23

Ultimately if you get light headed just get out the bath, if not then I(and IM not a medical professional) would think you would be fine. x

Sweetpea86 Wed 02-Apr-14 12:08:26

I knew nothing of this until about 25 weeks pregnant no one had mentioned it at a midwfie appt.

I just make sure I run a little extra cold in water now.

caravela Wed 02-Apr-14 12:21:16

I honestly think that it's fine. Your body is very efficient at regulating internal temperature (if it wasn't you would die). I saw a documentary on the body where they got a fireman to do a training exercise in temperatures equivalent to a burning building while they tested his internal temperature, and the point of the test was to show how the body is designed to prevent your core temperature rising even in really extreme circumstances. I could imagine that staying for ages in a really hot bath could make you feel dizzy in pregnancy, because of the extra strain on your heart and blood pressure, and that might be a reason to be a bit careful, and get out or add cold water if you start feeling weird, and try to get up slowly so you don't faint. But the "slow your heart down" thing sounds dodgy to me too - even if it does change your heart rate, you are only in a bath for a relatively short time, and I can't believe that it's going to harm the baby (surely everyone's heart rate goes up and down during the day anyway, depending on what you are doing). And you have to offset against that the relaxation benefits of a nice bath.

In general, medical friends of mine say that a lot of the "advice" that's out there on what not to do in pregnancy needs to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. For obvious reasons, they can't do proper scientific tests to check the harmful effects of these things, and so the "evidence" is often extremely weak. And there are lots of scare-mongering websites out there. I know people say "better safe than sorry" to justify them, but I think that it's often just a way of making women feel stressed and guilty, which is really not what you need.

One final thing: if you look on the NHS website, their official advice about baths is just "take care when getting out of a hot bath as you may feel faint". They don't say to avoid them. And even for really hot things like saunas and steam rooms all they say is that there is a "possibility" it might not be good and you "may wish" to avoid them. If it was that dangerous, they would be much firmer on them, as they are with smoking, eating liver, etc.

mandbaby Wed 02-Apr-14 12:25:42

Thanks so much, caravela, this has really helped to put my mind at rest.

Something else occurred to me while I was reading your post - if we lived in a boiling hot country, or even went through a really hot summer in this country, that would make me feel far hotter than I ever do in a bath! You can't avoid an external climate unless you're lucky enough to have air conditioning can you! So surely a hot bath can't be any more dangerous.

squizita Wed 02-Apr-14 13:05:27

There was a whole thread on this. Lots of duff advice from people but the bottom line is medical websites aren't fussed:

here the NHS literally calls it an old wives tale

here they clarify how a bath is entirely different from a sauna or steam room

You should avoid saunas but domestic baths, where your head and shoulders are exposed, are fine.

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I am under the care of Lesley Regan's team in this pregnancy AKA one of the "big names" in miscarriage prevention and guess what... they aren't that fussed either. A normal hot bath is harmless.

You will get some people who insist Dr says otherwise... bear in mind my GP knew less about pregnancy loss than me by the end of my tests, I think they err on the side of caution and propel the myth on.

squizita Wed 02-Apr-14 13:09:36

The email spelling out the dangers said it was to do with hot baths slow your heart rate down, and if mum's heart rate slows it can put the baby under stress. Like I said, worried sick!

hmm Even the old wives tales cite overheating. ALL relaxation slows your heart. If it was slow enough to hurt baby you'd feel ILL. Properly ILL.

Some online sources actually make me angry ... having lost pregnancies through no fault, had I read some of the scare stories I might have blamed myself (and not fought to find out the reasons/got a potential cure). Goodness knows how many women world wide do that thanks to dodgy sites.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 13:10:44

What Squizita said! The biggest risk is standing up too fast and going dizzy- so best not lobster hot for that reason.

Didn't realise you were under Dr Regan Squizita. I loved her no nonsense pregnancy book with DD1 (after I binned What to Expect in a fit of rage at the doom levels!)

squizita Wed 02-Apr-14 13:22:31

It's like the Wizard of Oz... I know she signs things off for me, but Mr Rai is my day-to-day consultant (still a pretty grande fromage!) grin.

I love her books too. Straight to the point, no bluff.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 13:27:02


mandbaby Wed 02-Apr-14 13:59:03

Sorry for being thick, but why is standing up quickly and feeling dizzy the biggest risk? Just because of the risk of falling/banging your head?

I only ask because during this and my previous pregnancies, whenever I've been lying in bed and then get up (to go the loo or to see to one of my DC) I often feel REALLY light headed. I mentioned it to my midwife, and she just said it's low blood pressure, nothing to be too worried about, and to just be careful not to fall.

mandbaby Wed 02-Apr-14 13:59:46

p.s. Thanks for the advice everyone. It's REALLY helped to put my mind at rest!

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 14:25:09

Yes, because it's never good to faint as you don't know what you'll hit on the way down! Especially in a bath with lots of hazards like taps! Plus, obviously, as you get bigger there is a risk of landing awkwardly on the bump.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 14:26:55

Oh, and I had first trimester dizziness this time too. Again caused by low blood pressure. My MW just said it was always better to sit rather than fall.

flymo79 Wed 02-Apr-14 14:55:24

yy squizita! had I read some of the scare stories I might have blamed myself (and not fought to find out the reasons/got a potential cure)
this is SO what I am feeling. Even with NHS they need to say more than "some hot tubs can be over 40 degrees" they need to say why over-heating can be dangerous, if indeed it is proven to be so. Also, sitting in a sauna for ten minutes, where you can get out, have a drink and cool off, isn't half as bad as being stuck on a central line tube when it breaks down with no cool air and a load of fuming commuters! No-one tells you to avoid that do they?! I wonder if any tests have been done to see if that has harmed any babies in utero! People live in really hot countries and have babies! there must be mothers in afghanistan, who, under a baking hot burka, are in over 45 degree heat every day.

squizita Wed 02-Apr-14 15:04:36

Meandbaby yes because you could fall and/or faint and bump your head (far more likely than hurting bump, it's well padded).

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 15:31:07

Yes, when I mentioned landing on bump I was thinking of me at 37 weeks and how sore it would be, rather than anything more medically serious generally. grin

AnnaLivia67 Wed 02-Apr-14 15:53:50

Make your own mind up. It's certainly not an old wives tale though. This pubmed paper, if you have access, is worth reading. In short, risk associated with maternal hyperthermia in the very early stages is a real thing as far as they can determine.

If you don't want to read the abstract, the conclusion reads as follows: "Maternal hyperthermia in early pregnancy is associated with increased risk for neural tube defects and may be a human teratogen."

Having read medical papers on this I agree the risk is very low, and probably negligible in terms of having baths. But much of the nhs information does not go into any detail at all about the origin of the risk, and many doctors seem frankly unaware of the perfectly respectable research that seems to underlie the chinese-whispered, distorted advice we end up hearing.

squizita Wed 02-Apr-14 16:43:16

Anna But it is an old wives tale in the way it is presented. As you say:
"Having read medical papers on this I agree the risk is very low, and probably negligible in terms of having bath."

The hot baths old wives tale is not based on any new research - it's based on the old idea that you could get rid of an unwanted pregnancy by drinking a bottle of gin in a boiling hot bath.

I actually think it's pretty irresponsible to post a link which uses medical terminology and not point out what the key term actually means: hyperthermia.

Medical research focuses on extreme heat caused by saunas and so forth, not having a domestic bath: this comes out time and again as presenting risk so low as to be negligible. You do not get clinical hyperthermia from a domestic bath any more often than you might get hypothermia from forgetting your cardigan on a breezy day: actual discomfort is felt before it happens. Hyperthermia is a medical condition in its own right so serious that I have taken kids to A&E with it.

Thus, having a comfortably hot bath= problems is an old wives tale and an extremely psychologically damaging one at that.

AnnaLivia67 Wed 02-Apr-14 16:58:41

Hyperthermia means overheating. This is possible in all situations where you can't sweat to cool yourself down (hence saunas, hot baths etc being named). I think it's reasonable to assume that the injunction against hot baths comes from the same fear of hyperthermia, no? Raising your internal body heat is possible in a hot bath, as it is in a sauna, steam room etc. Hence when doctors say 'don't let your skin get red' etc.

If it's 'irresponsible' to answer a plea for more knowledge about something with a peer-reviewed article about possible risks of overheating, then fine. I am all for us having as much info as possible, and making informed decisions. I don't really get the hostility about that: I would prefer not be told 'don't worry about anything', frankly, when that just serves to keep us in the fog of infantilised ignorance that so many of the NHS guidelines attempt to create.

If you want to attack the source, go for it: I'm really up for having the best info possible, that's what this is all about. This paper is peer-reviewed and written by specialists -- seems like a more reliable source to me than most of the mush out there.

I'm satisfied that I can continue to have baths, but I made this decision from an informed standpoint, and so should everyone who is interested in the question -- if you're not, that's cool, but the people asking questions are. To say there is no risk associated with overheating in the early stages is just as misleading as saying there's a huge one. Look, as I said before, my take on this is that we need the information to make informed decisions. If you're not worried about any overheating risks, that's great, but presumably the original questioner wants to know if there's any scientific basis for danger in overheating. I also want to know, and am trying to find out the facts.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 17:06:54

I totally agree with Squizita regarding hyperthermia.

But I'd also pick up on what you said about baths having 'negligible' risk even by your own assessment. Since when do we advise women to go about living their lives as if 'negligible' risks can be avoided? They can't. You'd have to cut out so much of your life that you basically wouldn't live for nine months each pregnancy. And then you'd probably be running health risks from inactivity...

Not directed at you Anna, but as a wider point, I've noticed that time and time again people talk about 'better safe than sorry'. But it's never about getting in a car (which I'm guessing carries a more than negligible risk for any of us over a 9 month period, pregnant or not). It's never about using the tube, or lifting a toddler, or cooking a meal (all those boiling liquids...). No, it is always but always about coffee, or nice foods, or sleeping positions, or baths, or a single glass of champagne at a relative's wedding. It is always about things that women might do for their own pleasure as independent adults. As if every action in pregnancy has to fall into one of three categories:

- proved safe (i.e. very little);
- not proved safe, but ok because it's not a selfish act and can be justified (car driving to get to work, etc);
- not proved safe and 'better safe than sorry' (i.e. anything we do for pleasure).

I feel like the internet, great as it is for information, is really breeding an anti-women judgemental 'women as vessel' culture in some ways. I wish we could return to a bit more balance. Yes we know more now than 35 years ago when my mother was expecting me, but she was simply told not to smoke or drink alcohol to excess and that was that. There has to be a happy medium that doesn't result in so many women feeling crippling guilt for something as simple as a hot bath or a second cup of coffee.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 02-Apr-14 17:07:54

"I think it's reasonable to assume that the injunction against hot baths comes from the same fear of hyperthermia, no? "

But NHS official guidelines have no such 'injunction'.

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