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Taking a Bath While Pregnant

Here are all the dos and don'ts involved in taking a bath while one is pregnant.
Rujuta Borkar Jan 25, 2019
Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman's life. It brings about a soaring of senses and the exhilaration of a new life growing inside you.
At the same time it can also be a very confusing state to be in. Suddenly the most mundane of tasks can draw up serious doubts. You might end up questioning yourself several times during the day―Is this safe for the baby? Am I allowed to do this or will it affect the baby?
Of the many issues you might be concerned with, an important one is that of taking a bath. Generally it needs no second thought, but with your baby depending on you for survival, it is vital to make the right choices for a safe and fulfilling pregnancy. So, even if bathing during your pregnancy seems like a relatively unimportant topic, it really isn't.
Imagine this―your muscles are sore, your back hurts, your legs are aching and you are really stressed out. You want nothing more but to immerse yourself in the bathtub and soak all your aches and sores away. But just as this thought enters your mind it gives way to a doubt―Is taking a bath while one is pregnant, allowed?
With so many changes and adjustments due to pregnancy, it could be disheartening to know that you cannot indulge in a normal bath―luckily, that is not the case. You can continue regular baths throughout your pregnancy, but with some precautions as doctors suggest.

Care While Taking Baths in Early Pregnancy

The first trimester of your pregnancy is the most risky period and hence special care needs to be taken so that it ensures the safety of your baby. Taking a bath when you're pregnant can be most risky in the early stages of pregnancy if one is not aware of all the risks involved.

Temperature of the water

Always maintain the temperature of the water in the hot tub as close to your body temperature as possible. This might be very confusing to follow, so just make sure that the water never exceeds a temperature between 100 to 102 ºF. Anything above that should not be used.
An increase in the temperature of the water will, in turn, heat the fluid in the amniotic sac thus affecting the baby. And while you can sweat out the excess heat, your baby cannot. The temperature of the water will automatically raise the core temperature of your body causing dehydration and overheating.
Not only will this extra heat damage the developing cells of the baby but will also prevent oxygen from reaching the embryo. Also, it will increase the heart rate and reduce blood flow to the fetus thus stressing out the baby. The serious threat of this is that it might lead to malformations or birth defects in the baby and could also lead to miscarriages.
Similarly, no Jacuzzis, steam saunas, tanning beds, or hot tubs are to be used during your pregnancy. All of these maintain temperatures which are much higher than your bathtub at home. And while you can check the temperature of water at home, that choice is not available with all the aforementioned apparatuses.
Moreover, studies suggest that the baby could be born with defects in the functioning of the brain and spinal cord if the mother suffers from overheating through these machines. So also, tanning beds can cause severe burns to the already stretched skin of the mother and harm the baby.

How to check if the water is too hot

The water can be considered too hot if you have to gingerly place your foot in as opposed to doing so in one fluid movement. So also, if after entering it, your skin starts to turn red or pink, or if you feel that you are starting to get sweaty, it means that the water is too hot. If any of this happens, immediately get away from the water.
Always check the temperature of the water before entering the tub with a thermometer. This is your most effective and safest bet. You can get a baby thermometer from any of the leading baby products stores. But after entering the tub if you still feel that it is too hot, always keep a bucket of cold water ready so that water can be added whenever necessary.
And most importantly, go with your instincts. If after maintaining the suggested temperature you feel that something is not right, get out of the water. If you feel it is not harming you, then go with what feels right.

For how long should you soak?

Ideally, after maintaining a temperature that is below 100 ºF a maximum of 20 minutes can be spent in the bathtub to avoid infections.

Health Risks involved for the Mother

Dizziness

If the temperature of the water is higher than the recommended 100 ºF, then it might cause dizziness in the mother. With the rise in the body temperature, the flow of oxygen to the brain is lowered, resulting in feeling faint, dizzy, or even losing consciousness. This is very dangerous as it can lead to a fall and cause complications during pregnancy.

Bacterial Infections

Even if the temperature of the water is maintained at an optimal level, sitting in the tub for too long can lead to bacterial infections from the bacteria that may be carried by the water.

Spinal Cord Complications

From the fifth to the tenth week of the pregnancy, the spinal cord is open. Taking risks of any sort during this period (even if you consider them trivial, like soaking in overheated water) can lead to complications like Spina bifida in the baby.

Safety while taking baths in pregnancy (Last Trimester)

Maintain Water Temperature

Throughout your pregnancy, maintain the temperature of the bath water at or below 100 ºF whenever you take a bath. Most of the aforementioned risks that are prominent during the early stages can affect you throughout your pregnancy as well.
Even though it might be tough for you to take bath in lukewarm water, tell yourself that after the completion of 9 months, your body will be solely yours again to do whatever you please with it.

Depend on Others

One needs to be especially careful when getting in and out of the bath. Since your belly has swelled, and your sense of balance is not at its finest, there is a tendency to slip and fall as you cannot see where you are setting your foot, thus seriously injuring yourself and causing complications.
If you think that getting out of the tub is getting difficult, then call out to someone and take their help when getting out. Even though it might be tedious, there is no point in taking unnecessary risks.

Follow the Doctor's Advice

You can continue to take baths throughout your pregnancy unless the doctor advises you not to. The doctor might ask you to opt for a shower instead of a bath in case of two things
  1. Water Breaking
  2. Mucus Plug falling out
Water Breaking: Water breaking occurs when the amniotic sac, carrying the essential fluids which protect your baby, ruptures. In case of your water breaking, it is not advisable to soak in the bathtub as it can lead to infections―since there is no longer any protection for the baby.
Mucus Plug Falling Out: The cervix is sealed by a protective barrier of cervical mucus known as the mucus plug. It keeps bacteria and infection from entering into the cervix, thus protecting the baby. Once the mucus plug falls out, there is no longer a protective barrier between the baby and the water and this can most definitely lead to infections.
So go on then, fill the bathtub with warm water, light a few candles, throw in some bath salts, and celebrate your pregnancy with a much-needed soak in the water. Taking a bath while pregnant need not be a thing of worry if you know what precautions are to be taken ... Have a safe and happy pregnancy.
Disclaimer - This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.