Many women think that body pains and aches during pregnancy or tiredness can be resolved through long hot baths or showers like they do in their normal condition. But the question is whether is it really safe to take hot showers while pregnant or not? The answer may not be as simple as we perceive.
Every single woman wants her pregnancy to be comfortable but she also wants her baby to stay safe at the same time. Questions like “Is hot shower safe for me?” “Will it hurt my baby?” “Will it have long lasting after effects on my baby?” do wander into your mind when you are pregnant. Here are some hardcore facts that might satisfy your queries.
Effects on mother
Hot showers, saunas, or long hot baths can increase the core body temperature of the mother, increasing it more than 38.9 degree centigrade. It increases the risk of neural birth defects in babies and causes dehydration in mothers.
Heat during showers and baths can cause heat exhaustion which includes thirst, weakness, confusion, irritability and blurred vision. Heat also causes fainting, and cramps in legs during pregnancy. In extreme conditions, it increases risk for heat stroke and life threatening emergency condition.
Heat can also lower your blood pressure and cause fainting. Saunas and hot tubs have a temperature control that maintains a given hot temperature whereas baths comparatively cool down your body quickly. Saunas and hot tubs should be avoided altogether and baths should be short and limited or with cool water.
The effect of hot showers is similar to hot weathers, so it should be coped with in same way. Obgyn’s strongly recommend a short warm or cool bath and limiting outdoor activities, overheating, exercising and too much sun exposure during pregnancy.
Effects on baby
The fetus can be affected by the increased core body temperature of the mother. The common birth defect associated with hot temperatures and hot showers while pregnant affect brain and spine of the fetus.
The spinal cord and brain defects are called neural tube defects (NTD). Spina Bifidia is a life threatening condition caused by hot temperatures. The first trimester is crucial in spinal development and safe neural tube formation.
Showers are safer than baths as the hot water is continuously dripped off and does not increase the body core temperature in less time.
Increase in your body temperature will increase your heart rate and flushing of the skin. The blood supply is increased to skin and periphery of the body to dissipate core body heat and keep your body cool. This increased heart rate and flushing will decrease the blood supply to your fetus ( unborn baby). Your core will have little blood supply to keep it cool and therefore the blood supply to your uterus is also affected during hot showers.
These safety concerns should be kept in mind when taking hot showers while pregnant:
- Your body will give signs of overheating and discomfort. You should not ignore them and take them seriously.
- Fainting is a sure sign of overheating but there are other signs that you should look out before fainting. Increased sweating, increased heart rate, increased respiration, difficulty in breathing, redness of skin, flushing of face or redness of face, dizziness, etc are initial signs that your body is overheating and you should remove yourself from the bath immediately.
- Try having a cool water shower or slightly warm water baths, instead of hot water. It is better to be safe during the first few months of pregnancy as these are the most crucial for fetus development.
- For a relaxing shower or bath try using scented candles or scented oil incense burners in the bathroom.
- Do not use bath bubbles, soap bubble liquid, or other bathing liquids. This can change the pH of the water and cause the water to be more acidic.
- Dizziness, light headed feelings are all signs of overheating and dehydration.
- Blurred vision, thirst, and weakness instead of relaxation are also the signs that your body is overheating.
- Keep a drinking water bottle by your bath side and keep yourself hydrated during the showers and baths. This decreases the risk of overheating or dehydration during long showers.
- Another effective way to have a relaxing bath is to ask your partner to help you. Back massages, neck rubs, and care will help you be more relaxed and will dissolve any stress away from both of you.
- Pregnancy is a tricky situation for couples and relations. Taking a bath together will help you bond together and keep stress, and irritability at bay. It is also a good way to take time out for each other during this crucial phase of your life and relationship.
- Bath time should be kept short during pregnancy or if you have difficulty in taking bath while pregnant make sure to keep the water temperature between cool to luke warm.
Doctors and care takers recommend using short cool baths rather than long hot showers while pregnant. This keeps you hydrated and healthy during pregnancy. The first trimester is important to take care of your core body temperature as this is usually not a first priority of pregnant women.
The sound of a relaxing hot shower or bath seems tempting and good with all the tiredness and fatigue during your first pregnancy weeks. It is crucial to take precautions and care for yourself and your baby. Short cool showers and avoiding body-heating situations like Jacuzzis, saunas, hot weathers, increased exercise, is the key to have a safe pregnancy for both of you.
Hopefully, this article will clear up all of your confusions about taking a hot shower during pregnancy.