Taking baths while pregnant
When you're pregnant, it feels like everyone has an opinion on what you can and can’t do. It can be hard to separate the serious medical advice from the old wives’ tales. Many women think baths might be unsafe, but baths are actually a very good idea and can be beneficial to you and your baby.
Is it safe to have a bath when pregnant?
Baths are safe for you and your baby. In fact, taking warm baths can be beneficial during pregnancy, as they’re great for:
The only time they aren't recommended is if your waters have broken but you haven't gone into labour, but once in labour they're great for pain relief.
- Reducing stress. This is super important, as unnecessary and excessive stress can be damaging to your baby.
- Relieving aches and pains. Back pain and swollen ankles are no match for a warm bath.
- Soothing the early stages of labour. Baths can be really helpful in the first throes of labour, and even later on. The warmth and support help ease the pain of contractions and relax you, so you’re better equipped to deal with labour.
Why is it dangerous to overheat when pregnant?
Raising your body temperature too high can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients your baby gets. This could lead to miscarriage. Excessive heat can also cause dehydration or fainting, which is harmful to you and your baby.
You’re likely to feel warmer when pregnant, as hormonal changes cause an increase of blood to the skin. These changes are why pregnant women can sometimes feel faint, but it also means you're more likely to overheat as it's harder for your body to cool down.
What is a safe temperature for bath water?
Experts don’t agree on a specific safe temperature for bath water, so the thing to watch is your body temperature. You don’t want your body temperature to rise more than 2 degrees celsius. An easy guideline to follow is to keep your bath at body temperature, so 37°C . If you’d like your bath to be warmer than this, you're advised not to stay in the water for longer than ten minutes, as this is how long it takes for your body temperature to change.
Can I use bubble bath, bath oils and bath salts?
Bath products cannot harm your baby as it sits high in the womb behind the cervix, and is protected by amniotic fluid. It is thought that some aromatic oils, such as jasmine and clary sage, can cause the womb to contract so use these products in moderation.
Although most bath products cannot harm your baby, it’s probably wise to keep your bath as simple as possible. During pregnancy, you're more susceptible to thrush, and some soaps and bubble baths can exacerbate symptoms. So to avoid unnecessary itching, it’s probably best to forego that new Lush bath bomb (think of the glitter).
Exercising in water
You may wish to continue swimming in your pregnancy or even attend an antenatal class that’s held in a pool. This is totally safe, as long as the water doesn’t exceed 32 degrees celsius. When you exercise, your core temperature rises which means that, in warm water, you’re unable to sweat to cool down. Stay mindful of yourself and, if you start to feel uncomfortably warm, get out of the water and cool down.
Are hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms safe?
Unfortunately, this is one of life’s pleasures that you will have to put on hold during pregnancy. Although hot tubs seem similar to baths, they're generally set to 40 degree celsius. Equally, with saunas and steam rooms, the risk of over-heating is increased, as some reach as high as 100 degrees. If your warm bath still isn't doing the trick, and you're desperate for a heat fix, lower the hot tub’s temperature to 37 degrees and limit yourself to ten minutes.
Make the most of it just being you and your bump
“I haven’t had a bath since my daughter was born. I actually asked for a bath session as a birthday present! So, if you're pregnant, I recommend you enjoy your baths now as they will be a thing of the past after baby arrives”