As a mother-to-be, the idea of relaxing in the warmth of sauna to relieve backache and other pregnancy-related discomforts surely sounds utterly divine. However, you may also be wondering if it is safe to sauna while you’re pregnant.
If you’re visiting for a sauna therapy session, you may have noticed a sign asking to check first with your doctor if you’re pregnant. Usually, in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, women are susceptible to overheating.
According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), pregnant women must limit their use of all heat-based therapies, be it infrared sauna, steam bath or hot tub. Increasing the body temperature to more than 100oF has known to increase the risk of fetal complications. Within 6 weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s spine is fully developed and if the pregnant mother is exposed to high levels of heat, it can obstruct the flow of oxygen and nutrition to the baby.
This can lead to several complications such as neural tube damage, birth defects and risk of hyperthermia (abnormal heal levels) in women. Hence, it is best to avoid or limit any kind of heat therapy, including infrared sauna therapy during pregnancy.
As the pregnancy advances into the 3rd trimester, it can get rather uncomfortable. Usually, expecting women feel much hotter and the increased weight along with hot flashes can make you feel that a hot bath or infrared sauna session can offer relief and comfort. You can go in for sauna therapy; however, in moderation and the core temperature must not exceed 101oF (39oC).
When exposed to high heat, there may be an increased heart rate and excessive water loss due to sweating. The heart needs to pump oxygen for the baby, which may cause you to faint and if you suffer from heart problems, this can be more fatal. You can sit in a hot tub or sauna, but not for more than 10 minutes. However, consult your doctor before doing this, monitor your body’s heat levels and your baby’s health. Most importantly, you must stay hydrated.
Pregnant mothers, especially in their 1st trimester should be extremely careful and choose safer alternatives to hot baths, showers or saunas. You could do some exercise; however, this should not exceed 30 minutes. You could opt for gentler and more relaxing alternatives such as massages or prenatal yoga. Stretching exercise can also help pregnant moms with their overall health and well-being.
If you absolutely cannot resist the idea of sauna therapy sessions when you’re pregnant, here are a few things to do to ensure that your baby and you are safe.
- Speak with your doctor and take all the required precautionary measures.
- Limit your time in the sauna up to 10 minutes or lesser per session.
- Keep the temperature of the sauna up to 96oF and 99oF and ensure that it does not exceed 100oF.
- If you’re feeling nauseous, faint or uncomfortable, this could be a sign of your body overheating. Leave the sauna immediately.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink 2-3 glasses of water before the sauna session and keep a bottle to drink water if required during the session.
- Cool down properly after the sauna session and have a shower.
Nothing is more relaxing than a hot shower, bath or sauna session after a long tiring day. However, it may not be a very good idea to use steam baths or saunas during pregnancy because of the greater risks of overheating, dizziness and dehydration. While it is best to avoid sauna therapy during pregnancy, if you insist on it, then it is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor and restrict your sauna sessions to very small bursts.