Taking a relaxing bath can be one of life’s simple pleasures. But if you’re pregnant, you may wonder if it’s still safe to soak in the tub. The good news is that for most healthy pregnancies, enjoying a warm bath is perfectly fine and can help soothe aches and pains. However, there are some important guidelines to follow for bathing safely during pregnancy.
- Taking a warm (not hot) bath is generally considered safe during pregnancy if done carefully. However, check with your doctor first, especially if you have complications.
- Avoid very hot baths to prevent overheating which can be dangerous in pregnancy. Keep baths warm, not hot, and limit time to 10-15 minutes.
- Adding baking soda, oatmeal, Epsom salts or essential oils can help soothe and relax. But check with your doctor on essential oils first.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after bathing to prevent dehydration from warm water.
- Use caution getting in and out of the tub to avoid slips or falls. Consider a bath seat for support and stick to shallow baths.
Is It Safe to Take Baths During Pregnancy?
For most healthy pregnancies, taking a warm bath is considered safe and effective for relaxation. However, there are some caveats. During pregnancy, women need to be careful to avoid getting overheated since it could cause issues.
Therefore, extremely hot baths or soaking in hot tubs for long periods are not recommended. However, a 10-15 minute soak in a warm – not hot – bath is generally fine. The key is moderation and avoiding elevated body temperature.
If you have any complications in your pregnancy, such as bleeding, leaking fluid, cramps or other issues, avoid bathing and check with your doctor first. High risk pregnancies may also need to exercise more caution with bathing.
Additionally, the further along you are in pregnancy, the more overheating risks increase. So you may need to be extra careful with water temperature in the 3rd trimester. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
Ideal Water Temperature for Pregnancy Baths
Aim for a comfortably warm, not hot, water temperature. Most experts recommend keeping bath water below 100°F to avoid overheating. Normal body temperature is 98.6°F and pregnant women run warmer.
A good guideline is if the water feels hot on your skin, it is too hot for bathing while pregnant. Aim to soak with water temperature that feels warm to mildly hot but not uncomfortably or excessively hot.
Test the bathwater with a thermometer or your elbow/hand before getting in to gauge temperature. Adjust to add cool water until it reaches a safe warm temperature for pregnant bathing. Keeping a thermometer on hand can help monitor the water temp.
How Long Should Pregnant Women Bathe For?
In addition to water temperature, it’s also important to limit the duration of pregnant bathing. Most experts recommend keeping baths to 10-15 minutes max to avoid prolonged heat exposure.
Set a timer so you don’t lose track of time while soaking and relax for a reasonable duration. Get out right away if you start feeling overheated, light-headed, dizzy or nauseous. Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after bathing as well.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find you need to lower the temperature and shorten the length of baths further to stay comfortable and avoid overheating. Listen to your body.
Benefits of Warm Baths During Pregnancy
When enjoyed safely, warm baths can provide many benefits for moms-to-be by soothing common pregnancy discomforts. Benefits may include:
- Relieves aches & pains – Warm water helps relax tense muscles and joints, alleviating common back and pelvic pain
- Reduces swelling – Helps decrease swelling in the hands, feet and legs from edema
- Soothes hemorrhoids – Can provide relief from painful, swollen hemorrhoids
- Improves sleep – Relaxes the body before bedtime and aids sleep
- Eases anxiety/stress – Provides a calming, meditative effect on the mind and body
- Cleanliness – Keeps skin and intimate areas clean to avoid infections
Just be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after bathing during pregnancy.
What to Add to Pregnant Baths
You can enhance your soothing pregnant bath by adding some healthy ingredients to the warm water. Some good options include:
Adding a cup or two of baking soda helps neutralize acids and prevents UTIs. It also eases itching.
Grind up a cup of raw oatmeal into a powder and sprinkle into bath water to relieve itchy skin. Avoid using flavored oatmeals which may irritate skin.
These magnesium-rich salts help ease swelling, aches, and muscle tension when 1-2 cups are dissolved in the bath. Check with your doctor first.
Put 2-3 drops of pregnancy safe oils like lavender, chamomile or lemon oil in bathwater for aromatherapy benefits. Always dilute in a carrier oil first and ask your doctor about appropriate oils.
Bath Safety Tips for Pregnant Women
To help ensure bathing remains safe and comfortable during pregnancy, keep these tips in mind:
- Install a rubber bath mat, grip strips or stickers on the tub floor to avoid slipping
- Consider using a bath seat or stool to sit on for stability getting in and out
- Clean tub thoroughly before use and add a disinfectant to kill germs
- Keep bathroom ventilated to prevent getting overheated while bathing
- Have someone nearby in case you need help getting in or out of the tub
- Get out slowly and carefully holding onto railings for support
- Avoid bath oils or products that make the tub slippery
- Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after bathing
- Pat skin dry and moisturize post-bath to avoid itchy, dry skin
If you experience any pain, bleeding, leaking fluid or other issues during bathing, get out immediately and contact your doctor right away.
When to Avoid Baths During Pregnancy
While most pregnant women can safely bath, there are some instances when baths should be avoided unless approved by your doctor:
- High-risk pregnancy with complications like pre-term labor, placental issues, etc
- Experiencing cramps, bleeding, leaking fluid or other problems
- Positive for Group B strep requiring monitoring as due date nears
- Dehydrated or prone to overheating
- Feeling dizzy, faint or short of breath easily
- Doctor advises against bathing for a medical reason
- Water has been contaminated with dangerous bacteria or chemicals
- Tub is in an unsafe condition posing fall or injury risks
Listen to your body and your doctor’s guidance on when to avoid bathing during pregnancy for your specific circumstances.
Switching to Showers if Needed
If at any point baths become uncomfortable or your doctor recommends avoiding them, you can switch to taking lukewarm showers instead. This provides a safer way to maintain hygiene if baths are not advised.
Keep showers under 20 minutes with a moderate temperature to prevent overheating. Use a plastic shower stool for sitting and stickers or mats for traction. Maintain good airflow in the bathroom and have someone nearby for assistance if high-risk.
Showers may be preferable over baths in the later stages of pregnancy for some women when overheating and mobility become more of a concern. Check with your doctor on whether to switch to showers instead if baths seem ill-advised.
For most healthy pregnancies, warm baths are considered safe in moderation and can provide therapeutic benefits from relaxation to pain relief. However, be sure to keep water temperatures lukewarm – not hot – and limit time in the tub to 10-15 minutes max. Additionally, follow bathing safety precautions and get your doctor’s OK, especially if you have any pregnancy complications. With some mindful care and caution, expectant mothers can continue enjoying the soothing comforts of bath time.