Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.
It is hard to beat the relaxing feeling of a hot tub and having your entire body pampered. But at a time when a woman would probably need and enjoy this indulgence the most to soothe your aching back, swollen feet and itchy skin, it is a valid question to ask, is it safe for me and my baby?
The truth is that very little research has actually been done and therefore most doctors would err on the conservative side to safeguard mother and baby. Because it is not clear whether an abnormality can be caused by the mother’s high body temperature, medical experts and providers of hot tubs advise caution. Most doctors warn in particular of the sensitive stage during the first trimester of your pregnancy before the embryo is properly implanted in the uterus and vigilant precautions for the duration of the pregnancy are advised. One of the most important aspects of taking rigorous precautions is to understand and manage the possible risks to ensure a safe pregnancy.
A dip in a hot tub is considered the ultimate way to relax and socialise with your partner or intimate friends, but there is consensus that it should be approached with great care, even after the first trimester. Some of the reasons are that when pregnant, due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood to the skin, the body is not able to lose heat effectively by perspiration and that a significant rise in core body temperature might be harmful, due to dehydration, fainting and the risk of overheating. If you overheat, even more blood flows to the skin to help your body by perspiring and less blood flows to the internal organs, the placenta and foetus and to your brain.
If your doctor deems it safe to indulge after the first trimester, the recommendation is still that the water temperature should not exceed 32 °C to 35 °C and you should keep your body well hydrated. It is also recommended that you do not spend more than 10 minutes at a time in a hot tub. Other precautions to reduce risks include sitting near the inlet valves providing the heated water, avoiding submersion of the upper body and head and avoiding high-pressure jets. Rather stick to just submersing your legs or at most the lower body. If at any time you feel any discomfort, it is best to get out and if you feel sweaty it is advisable to cool down your body immediately. As in all cases even when not pregnant, if you are feeling unwell or have a fever, it is not wise to use the hot tub. It is never advisable to use the hot tub after consuming alcohol.
Germs in the hot tub water is another major concern for pregnant women using hot tubs. It is best to avoid public hot tubs entirely for the duration of the pregnancy and to ensure proper filtering, chemical balance and sanitisation in your private hot tub. Please read our article on water sanitisation by [clicking on this link.]
Your sense of balance will need some adjustments during your pregnancy, and you might feel dizzy at times, so take every precaution not to slip or fall and a special seat in the tub is advised.
If you used a hot tub for a lengthy period of time early in your pregnancy without knowing you were pregnant, it would be wise to talk to your doctor about it as soon as you do find out that you are pregnant.