Q&A: Are hot baths just as bad as a hot tub?
I have friends that say hot baths are just as bad as hot tubs and other pregnant friends who don't shy away from taking a quick dip in a hot tub. What is your medical opinion about hot tubs causing harm during pregnancy? Or hot baths?
The medical risk associated with both hot tubs and hot baths is that your core body temperature will rise to a point that can seriously harm your developing baby. The March of Dimes explains, “high body temperature (from being in a hot tub/bath) can cause the pregnant woman’s blood pressure to fall. As a result, the fetus may receive less oxygen and nutrition.”
To prevent this risk to your baby, your health care provider will most likely caution you against going into hot tub altogether, because most have temperatures above 102.2 degrees F. At this temperature (and some commercial hot tub temps are set even higher), your core body temperature can rise significantly in a matter of minutes. Longer than 10 minutes and you’re running a real risk to your unborn baby. Keep in mind that several venerable organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Pregnancy Association, support this advice.
But hot baths can also raise your core body temperature. The risk, however, is lessened versus a hot tub because the water temperature begins to cool the longer you’re in the tub and not all of your body is in the water making it less likely for you to overheat. I certainly wouldn’t rule out a nice, relaxing bath to sooth your pregnancy aches and pains, just watch the temperature. The March of Dimes offers these tips for preventing overheating in the bath
- Check the temperature before you get in
- Make sure the temperature is not scalding
- If you feel dizzy or nauseous, get out of the bathtub
- If you feel overly thirsty or experience chills, get out of the bathtub
Now, if you’ve already gone into the hot tub, without realizing that you’re pregnant, don’t worry, chances are that your developing baby is just fine. But I would caution pregnant women against continuing to go into hot tubs.