Can I Take a Bath While Pregnant?

When you get pregnant, you can expect a lot of advice from just about anyone. There is so much common wisdom around, and everyone seems ready to let you in on a secret or two.

One of the things you may have heard is that you should steer clear of all kinds of baths until you deliver. It’s dreadful news, truly. A bath is one of the nicest things to look forward to after a long day, and now you’ve been robbed of your right to it. So, if like many moms, you are asking yourself “Can I take a bath while pregnant?” Here’s your answer.

The Benefits

There are many benefits to taking regular baths. A warm bath can promote your heart’s health. It helps you breathe more easily, and it improves your gastrointestinal health. It encourages your blood flow and makes your blood more oxygenated, which should boost your immune system.

More importantly, it helps to balance out your hormones, which tend to go wild when you’re pregnant. A nice warm bath can soothe your nerves and help you relax, which is incredibly important when you’re expecting. It improves your mood and lowers your stress and anxiety levels.

Another very important benefit is that it helps a lot with painful muscles and joints. Once your pregnancy advances, you’ll notice a strain on your muscles from the extra weight that they’re not used to carrying. A bath can remove some of the pressure, at least for a little while.

Finally, a warm bath can be used to help you relax and minimize pain while giving birth. It allows you to avoid some of the pain and focus all your attention on the process of labor.

So, with so many benefits to gain from taking a bath, why would anyone not want to do it? There’s truth to the warning. Some risks are included as well.

The Risks

You’ve probably already heard that pregnant women should avoid long, hot baths. That is mostly true, as there are some risks for the baby, especially in the first trimester. Here are the things you should look out for.

1. Temperature

The water temperature shouldn’t be high enough to raise your body’s temperature to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. This can lead to hyperthermia, which can be very dangerous for the baby. Hot water makes your blood pressure drop, which can lead to a restricted supply of blood and, by extension, oxygen and other nutrients, to the baby. This greatly increases the chances of miscarriage and birth complications, as well as the probability of physical damage to the fetus.

Also, high temperatures can make you feel dizzy and faint. This can cause you to lose consciousness, or just make you more prone to accidents. Therefore, the risk of injury increases as well.

2. Germs

If you are a fan of hot tubs, there is some bad news – they are best avoided during pregnancy. The warm water can be a wonderful breeding ground for all kinds of germs. It doesn’t matter whether you own it or just pay frequent visits to the nearby spa; the chances of bacterial infestation are much higher with a hot tub than a regular bathtub.

With spas, there is the added risk of chemical imbalance. Some spas overdo it with the chemicals to avoid regular maintenance. Also, the more people who use it, the less safe it is. Therefore, it might be a good idea to forego this particular relaxation method, at least during the first three months of pregnancy.

3. Thrush

Using perfumed bubbles, scented oils, or bath salts is generally a bad idea when you’re pregnant. Those products can change the pH balance of your vagina. The imbalance can make you much more prone to developing thrush – a fungal infection caused by a type of Candida.

This condition can be highly unpleasant, and if you don’t treat it in time, it can pass to your baby at birth. No matter how bland your bath feels, don’t be tempted to add anything that can put you and your baby in danger.

How to Take a Bath Safely

So, right now you’re probably thinking “It sounds like I can’t take a bath, can I?” Take a bath while pregnant, if that’s what you feel like. However, don’t do it without considering the risks and taking some precautions first.

  • Firstly, make sure the temperature isn’t too high. It needs to be cool enough for you to enter immediately, without a period of adjustment. Dip your elbow in first – it’s more sensitive to heat than your hands and feet. If you have a thermometer, use it. The water shouldn’t be hotter than 100-102 degrees.
  • Also, make sure you don’t stay in it for too long. 10 minutes or so should be completely safe, but don’t go over 15.
  • Avoid hot tubs during the first trimester. After that, you can indulge, but make the sessions short – 10 minutes or less – with long breaks in between. Make sure you stay hydrated.
  • During your entire pregnancy, avoid perfumed body washes, bubble baths, bath salts and oils, body scrubs, and so on. Use natural products instead. If the pleasant smell is a critical part of the experience for you, consider lighting some scented candles or aroma lamps. This way, you get a similar experience without endangering your and your baby’s health.

If you follow these simple rules, there is no reason for you to give up something as pleasant as a warm bath after a long day.

If You Don’t Want to Risk It

If the risks are too much for you, or you don’t really feel too confident about the preventative measures listed above, just remember that there are other ways to relax. Swimming is a great way to keep your body nimble while pregnant, and it provides you with the same benefits as a warm bath. Aromatherapy can do wonders when it comes to battling stress and anxiety, and so can yoga. Always make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re doing – and avoid anything that stresses you out.

The Last Splash

A scalding hot bath is not a good idea during pregnancy. However, baths very beneficial for your physical and mental health, and, if you follow some basic rules, you can still enjoy a warm bath when you feel like it.

 

References:

https://www.gov.mb.ca/healthychild/healthybaby/kits/is_it_safe_during_pregnancy_and_for_mom_and_baby.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015781/

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