For many pregnant women, sitting in a sauna sounds like a great way to ease muscle aches related to pregnancy. But it’s best to avoid the sauna during pregnancy because high body temperatures can increase the risk of complications or birth defects. Pregnant women are more susceptible to dehydration, dizziness and lower blood pressure. These symptoms will accelerate during times of extreme heat and become potentially hazardous to the baby.
Is it safe to use a sauna during pregnancy?
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a body temperature of 101º F and above can raise concerns during pregnancy. Some studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects in babies of women who had an increased body temperature during the first trimester of pregnancy.
During the early months of pregnancy, the body and brain are developing. Putting strain on the mother’s body is risky.
Increasing our core temperature above normal can cause hyperthermia. When hyperthermia occurs for long periods during the first trimester, there is a risk of neural tube defects, heart defects and oral left defects. While the first trimester is the most dangerous time, it’s important for pregnant women to avoid saunas and hot water baths during the whole nine months.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a sauna is not recommended during pregnancy. There are various types of saunas, and every sauna is programmed to maintain a different temperature and humidity level. Before choosing to use a sauna during pregnancy, it is best to seek the advice of your health care provider.
Other Relaxation Options
The Association recommends that you avoid the use of saunas during pregnancy to ensure you do not get overheated. Relieving stress and muscle aches are still important during pregnancy. Here are some ideas to help you relax.
- Take a warm bath
- Indulge in a massage from a professional or your partner
- Practice the breathing exercises you will use during labor
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Organization of Teratology Information Services, https://otispregnancy.org/
Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, CH. 5
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny P.T., et al, CH. 5.