If you are pregnant, it is essential to be careful about what you do and don’t do. One question on people’s minds is “Can I use a sauna when pregnant?”.
Before we get started, please note that the information in this post is strictly for informational purposes only. We urge that you consult with your health care practitioner before entering a sauna, particularly if pregnant. This post should not be taken as medical advice.
Now that we’ve got that down, let’s see what can be done if you’re pregnant and just can’t resist using your sauna...
As we all know, saunas can get pretty hot and if not used correctly, may elevate your body temperature too much which could cause problems for your baby. The heat from the sauna may also dry up the skin, nipples and vaginal area, which can make them more prone to infection- not something you need when pregnant! In any case, you will probably be quite uncomfortable and breathe heavily in a hot environment. Furthermore, there is evidence that suggests that prolonged exposure to high heat may impact the development of your fetus.
However, there isn’t necessarily a wealth of scientific data to support these arguments and doctors typically recommend that you should consult with your health care practitioner and/or gynecologist before deciding on using a sauna during pregnancy.
It’s no surprise that your body temperature rises as a result of sauna use. During pregnancy you should ensure that it does not rise too high (you should definitely avoid exercising strenuously during the sauna, even if you just can’t get enough hot yoga). You should drink plenty of water before and after the sauna and ensure that you are sufficiently wrapped with a protective body cloth.
The hormonal changes that your body undergoes while pregnant can result in an increase in blood supply to the skin, which also makes you feel warmer in general (so if you feel hot more often now that you’re pregnant- you definitely aren’t imagining it!).
A normal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). During pregnancy, a woman’s body temperature can actually increase by one half to one degree during the first 7 weeks of the pregnancy. This increase may be more pronounced if you were to sauna just after ovulation when progesterone levels are high and this could cause an even higher body temperature in your baby. As a result, it is quite common for many pregnant women to feel faint as a result.
While there may be risks to your own health as mentioned, there are also studies which suggest that prolonged heat exposure in the first trimester may also impact fetal development. Such increases in bodily heat could result from sauna and hot tub use, but also from a particularly high fever. Whichever the origin of the heat, extreme consequences could result in neural tube and/or spinal cord defects, as well miscarriages.
While these may be extreme examples, we do hasten to remind you that these are nevertheless risks that do exist and while we are advocates for regular sauna use, we certainly would not want to extend that to pregnant women considering the risks.
If you are given the green light by your health care practitioner and intend to use a sauna despite the risks, you should make sure that you limit the time spent in a hot sauna to 10 minutes or less, rather than the typical 15 minutes. It is important that you do not stay in the sauna for too long both for your own sake and for your precious baby’s.