Pregnancy can come with a lot of unpleasant physical changes, such as muscle pain, weight gain, and pelvic or back pains. Normally, soaking in the hot temperatures at a sauna might seem like the perfect remedy for such discomfort. But is it safe to use a sauna while pregnant?
Pregnant women are advised to avoid saunas, due to the intense heat, which causes the body’s core temperature to rise. Studies suggest that some babies who are exposed to high temperatures in the first trimester experience health defects to the brain and/or spinal cord, so it’s best not to risk it.
Your body system reacts quickly to the high temperatures in a sauna, and the changes might reduce the supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the womb. Let’s find out more about the safety of sauna use during pregnancy.
Can You Go in the Sauna While Pregnant?
During pregnancy, your body experiences aches that can seem unbearable. If you’ve ever enjoyed the healing benefits of a sauna, you know that it seems like a perfect solution to your discomfort. However, body temperatures above 101º F pose a risk to your pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid saunas.
Saunas are popular because of the wide array of health benefits they offer. The heated rooms have temperatures that range between 150° F and 195° F and have become part of many people’s gym routine. The high temperatures promote blood circulation for faster muscle recovery and boosted energy levels.
But the hot sauna environment is not ideal when you’re pregnant. As your body temperatures rise, the body tries to cool down by sending more blood closer to the skin.
This means internal organs, including the brain, don’t get a sufficient supply of essential nutrients and oxygen. If you stay for very long in the sauna, you experience dizziness and fatigue because of the poor supply of nutrients to tissues.
In the first trimester, critical developments in the unborn baby’s body and brain take place. Any sudden changes in your health affect this developmental process in your unborn child. The reduced supply of oxygen and other nutrients affects the development of the fetus and increases the risk of birth defects.
If you have an existing medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, the heat in the sauna can also cause complications. Besides other severe symptoms you normally feel during pregnancy, the high temperatures cause a drop in blood pressure and other health complications.
Common birth defects associated with high sauna temperatures include neural tube defects of the spine and brain. Scientists continue research to find a definitive link between high temperatures and conditions such as ventricular septal defect (VSD) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
Can a Sauna Cause a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is one of the greatest fears for any pregnant woman. As you seek relief from pain and discomfort, a common question in your mind is whether a visit to a sauna can cause a miscarriage.
To date, doctors have found no link between use of saunas during pregnancy and miscarriage. This is despite the risks of overheating, dehydration, and fainting that are associated with sauna use.
Other Ways to Relax During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body experiences many physical changes. Finding a safe way to relieve muscles and stress can make the experience much easier. You stay healthier and have better control of your metal health. Your good health positively affects your baby’s growth.
Now that a sauna is out of the question during pregnancy, what other relaxing options are available? Here are some options to help you relax during pregnancy:
- Fix a warm bath to soothe your body.
- Go for a pregnancy-specific massage tailored to your situation.
- Relax at home and listen to soothing music.
- Stay active with gentle walks around the house or swimming. If you want to start swimming, look for an aqua-natal class with a certified instructor.
- Practice prenatal yoga for improved sleep and to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Learn about patterned breathing and practice the technique to make labor easier.
The best relaxation technique is one that’s safe for you and the baby. Safe exercises during pregnancy have a positive impact not only on your physical health but also your mental wellbeing.
Most women struggle with the extra weight and body aches, both of which can lead to stress. Through exercise, you relieve your muscles and stay in control of your body. Your good health improves the development of the unborn baby and reduces the risk of birth defects.
If you’re thinking of visiting a sauna during pregnancy, it’s time to rethink. The sauna might have helped you relax before the pregnancy, but the high temperatures now pose a risk to you and your growing fetus.
The heat in a sauna forces your body to work overtime and can worsen existing medical conditions. If you have health issues while pregnant, it can affect the baby’s development and may cause birth defects.
If you want to relax while pregnant, find safer options that won’t affect you or the unborn baby.