If you’re longing to soak up the steam, or have a dip in the jacuzzi—but aren’t sure if you should, here’s the current take on whether saunas and other heated water apparatus are safe while pregnant.
At present, mums-to-be are advised to avoid hot tubs, saunas and jacuzzis. The reasons mainly include risk of overheating—which could lead to fainting—and dehydration. In fact, the NHS recommends keeping clear of any activities which significantly raise core temperature; particularly in the first trimester. And remember that a pregnant woman’s body temperature is already heightened, so overheating can happen quickly.
However, there is actually no definitive evidence that overheating has adverse effects on an unborn baby. And in certain countries, like Finland, sauna use is common practice during pregnancy.
A recent Australian study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, also suggests the potential low risk related to saunas, etc.—
“Health guidelines for pregnant women unanimously state that hot-water immersion or sauna use should be restricted due to the elevated risk of maternal hyperthermia and the consequent potential impact on foetal development,” says lead researcher Dr Ollie Jay.
“However, our results suggest that heat stress risk is low.”
According to the researchers, their studies’ findings indicate that expecting women in any trimester could sit in hot baths (up to 40C) or hot/dry saunas (up to 70C) for up to 20 minutes, safely.
The research team does make it clear, though, that more studies replicating their hypothesis should be undertaken before official guidelines change.
Either way, the good news is that you shouldn’t stress if you’ve already indulged in a hot soak or two.