People know hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms for their relaxing and therapeutic properties. However, they also raise the body temperature significantly. When someone’s body gets too hot, it can cause a problem called hyperthermia, which is risky for pregnant women.
- High temperatures in the first trimester can increase the risk of birth defects, especially neural tube defects, according to studies.
- Dehydration: Spending time in a hot tub can cause excessive sweating, leading to dehydration. Dehydration during pregnancy can result in complications such as preterm labor and low amniotic fluid levels.
- Fainting and Dizziness: Pregnant women are already more prone to fainting and dizziness because of changes in blood pressure and circulation. The heat from a hot tub can exacerbate these symptoms and increase the risk of falls.
- Increased Heart Rate: Hot water can cause an increase in heart rate.
- In pregnancy, this can be problematic as it may reduce the oxygen supply to the baby.
- Preterm Labor: Evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to hot water, especially during the first trimester, may be associated with an increased risk of preterm labor.
- Risk of Infection: Hot tubs can be breeding grounds for bacteria, including the potentially harmful Legionella. Pregnant women have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to infections.
If you’re pregnant and considering using a hot tub, it’s crucial to follow some guidelines to reduce potential risks:
- Check the Water Temperature: Ensure that the hot tub water temperature is below 104°F (40°C). Water at this temperature is less likely to cause overheating.
- Limit Time Spent: Keep your hot tub sessions brief, no more than 10-15 minutes at a time. This helps prevent your body from overheating.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your hot tub session to avoid dehydration.
- Stay Cool: Use a cold compress or towel on your forehead or neck to help regulate your body temperature.
- Listen to Your Body: If you start feeling uncomfortable, dizzy, or too hot, exit the hot tub immediately.