Hot Tubs and Pregnancy

The idea of kicking back in your hot tub after a long day on your swollen feet may sound like paradise for a pregnant woman.  But the caution of every warning sign rings in your ears “pregnant women should consult physician before entering the spa”.  Is this something you should heed?  What are the reasons that pregnant women are cautioned about hot tub use?


Pregnant women run the risk of becoming overheated, or hyperthermia.  It can take as little as ten minutes to raise your body temperature to 102℉, a dangerous temperature for you and your baby.   As you become overheated, your heart rate raises and blood flow to the uterus is reduced, potentially causing stress for your baby.  The heat is also damaging for developing cells, like those helping your baby grow.  There are many birth defects that can occur due to overheating, including spina bifida and neural tube defects.  Most of the defects that occur due to overheating are more likely in the first trimester.  


The extreme temperatures in a hot tub can lead to heat exhaustion and dizziness.  As your body redirects blood flow to the skin to help sweating, it directs blood away from your brain, preventing it from obtaining necessary oxygen.  This can make you feel faint, and even pass out.  Not only is this dangerous for you, but it is also dangerous for your baby, as blood flow is diverted from the uterus as well.  


Pregnant women are at a greater risk for dehydration, and soaking too long in a hot tub can increase that risk.  Dehydration can lead to complications such as neural tube defects, and even premature labor.  It is best to avoid activities that can increase the risk for dehydration during pregnancy.


It is best to avoid hot tubs, spas and saunas altogether when you are pregnant and opt for a warm bath instead.  If you are insistent on using the hot tub, there are some ways to make them more safe.  Lower the water temperature of the hot tub to body temperature,97-98℉.  Pay close attention to your body, get out if you start to feel dizzy, clammy or sweaty.  Do not soak for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Keep as much of your upper body out of the hot tub as possible.  Stand up slowly to prevent dizziness.  Make sure you drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.   


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