Can I Take Hot Baths During Pregnancy?

Hot baths during pregnancy are often relaxing and comforting. But do you know what you need to keep in mind to make them healthy as well?
Can I Take Hot Baths During Pregnancy?
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 17 February, 2023

Most women take hot baths during pregnancy; however, this habit may be associated with certain risks. Variables such as the frequency and duration of hot baths and showers can be major determinants.

In general terms, it’s possible to take hot baths during pregnancy, in fact, they have some benefits. You only need to take certain preventive measures to prevent this relaxing practice from being harmful to your baby.

Hot baths during pregnancy

Hot baths during pregnancy aren’t 100% safe. In fact, the main concern with these practices lies in the risk of increasing body temperature. At the same time, the use of special bath oils isn’t recommended (except for oatmeal baths or Epsom salts).

What’s the ideal temperature for hot baths during pregnancy?

The internal body temperature of a healthy pregnant woman is around 98.6 °F. Water should be kept warm, not hot, and an ideal temperature is between 97.9 and 99.9°F.

Therefore, baths with high temperatures aren’t recommended during pregnancy due to the increased risk of infection linked to stagnant water. There are infant bathtub thermometers that can be used to measure the water temperature.

If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you can use your foot to find out if the water temperature’s too high. The idea is to put your foot in the bathtub and, if you need to introduce it gradually, then you’ll know that the temperature is too high. On the contrary, if it feels pleasant, the temperature will be perfect.

Mujer embarazada dándose una ducha de agua caliente.

Discover: 14 Things a Pregnant Woman Shouldn’t Do

Watch out for slips

It’s important to be careful and cautious about slips or falls when entering and leaving the bathtub, especially once the trimesters have advanced, when women may be more unstable due to pregnancy.

Silicone non-slip mats provide safety and stability when bathing. In fact, they can be used both inside and outside the bathtub.

Time in the water

It’s not only the temperature of the bath water that’s important but also the duration of the bath. Soaking in hot water can raise the body temperature and reduce blood flow to the baby and cause stress. Therefore, if all care measures are considered and respected, then taking hot baths during pregnancy isn’t contraindicated.

If your skin is too dry after bathing, use lotions or creams to retain moisture. Also, it’s important not to stay in too long; 15 minutes maximum.

Are hot tubs and saunas safe during pregnancy?

Staying in hot tubs or saunas for more than 10 minutes can significantly increase body temperature. Although more evidence is needed, some studies suggest that babies born to women who’ve had a fever are more likely to have spinal cord, brain, and attention abnormalities.

Bath salts tend to alter the pH of the vagina and cause an imbalance in pH levels, resulting in a decrease in favorable bacteria in the region. In this regard, it could increase the probability of suffering from vaginal infections.

The increase in temperature may increase the risk of developing miscarriages. In fact, the risk is 2 times higher when using hot tubs according to certain studies.

Hot tubs or whirlpools have a higher risk of germs than bathtubs because of the stagnant water that’s constantly recycled to maintain a higher temperature. In addition, continuous and prolonged use of hot tubs during early pregnancy is associated with certain congenital malformations such as gastroschisis and anencephaly.

The benefits of hot baths during pregnancy

There are several beneficial effects of hot baths during pregnancy. However, certain precautions should be taken to avoid complications or clinical pictures later on.

1. Reduced stress

Some women may use hot baths during pregnancy as a means of relaxation and pain relief. The temperature of the water should also be monitored at this time.

Signs of overheating include sweating, feeling hot, and reddening of the skin. More serious signs may include nausea, dizziness, fainting, and falls.

A pregnant woman taking a relaxing bath with candles.

2. Back pain relief

Relaxation and relief from back pain are the reasons women express for enjoying hot baths during pregnancy. The very pressure of the water or buoyancy relaxes the joints and decreases any pain the woman may be experiencing in these areas.

However, heat can cause dehydration in the body; therefore, be sure to drink enough fluids before and after bathing.

3. Preparing the body for childbirth

No additional products are needed to relax the body and find peace of mind. Just lighting a candle or listening to music can create a climate that prepares the body for the day of delivery.

As previously mentioned, bath salts aren’t recommended due to the increased likelihood of infection. In addition, their ingredients may cause irritation or itching.

4. Help during labor

A recent study showed that baths with warm water are beneficial during labor and not only during pregnancy. This practice helps to reduce anxiety, increase contractions, and improve the adaptation of the mother’s body to the process.

The study also showed that taking warm baths increases cervical dilatation and reduces the duration of labor. However, women should always be accompanied during these baths to avoid falls.

Hot baths and pregnancy

During pregnancy, soaking in a hot bath may seem like a good way to relieve aches and pains. However, there are certain precautions to consider.

The length of time, water temperature, water replacement, and trimester of pregnancy are variables to consider when enjoying hot baths. If you have other doubts about this practice during pregnancy, it’s best to consult your gynecologist, who can provide you with all the necessary information.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Duong HT, Shahrukh Hashmi S, Ramadhani T, Canfield MA, Scheuerle A, Kim Waller D; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal use of hot tub and major structural birth defects. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Sep;91(9):836-41. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20831. Epub 2011 Jun 6. PMID: 21648056.
  • Waldenström U. Warm tub bath and sauna in early pregnancy: risk of malformation uncertain. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1994 Jul;73(6):449-51. doi: 10.3109/00016349409013428. PMID: 8042454.
  • Duong HT, Shahrukh Hashmi S, Ramadhani T, Canfield MA, Scheuerle A, Kim Waller D; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal use of hot tub and major structural birth defects. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Sep;91(9):836-41. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20831. Epub 2011 Jun 6. PMID: 21648056.
  • Ravanelli, N., Casasola, W., English, T., Edwards, K. M., & Jay, O. (2019). Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis. British journal of sports medicine53(13), 799-805.
  • Gustavson K, Ask H, Ystrom E, Stoltenberg C et al. Maternal fever during pregnancy and offspring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 2;9(1):9519.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.