Safety Tips for Taking a Bath While You're Pregnant

pregnant woman taking a bath

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You may have heard that taking a bath while pregnant is a no-no. The good news is that's simply not true. Baths are perfectly safe in pregnancy if you follow a few simple rules:

  • Avoid baths after your water has broken. (The exception is, under medical supervision, during a water birth, it may be safe to bathe for comfort after your water has broken.)
  • Keep your bathwater warm, not hot. 98.6 degrees F is just perfect and feels great.

If you follow these criteria, you can take a bath every day until you give birth. You could even take baths several times a day if you're suffering from pregnancy symptoms like backache.

Keep Bath Water Warm, Not Hot

The reason to avoid hot water or hot tubs is that water above your body temperature, particularly in the first trimester, has the possibility of causing problems with your baby. Immersion in hot water could cause a potential increase in your body temperature, which might reduce blood flow to the baby and cause stress.

Normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep your baths at or below 100 degrees F. Some mothers even use water as a relaxation and pain relief method for labor. Here the temperature is also monitored to keep it around the 100-degree mark for the safety of your baby and you. This popular form of laboring is not as effective at reducing pain as epidural anesthesia, but many women who use the technique often find the calming component of being in water very helpful.

To measure water temperature, try using a child's bathtub toy thermometer (they're helpful when you bathe your baby later, too). You allow it to float and then read how hot the water is, adjusting it as needed.

Also, note that heat can be dehydrating, so be sure to drink plenty of water before and after bathing. If your skin feels overly dry after bathing, use lotion right after drying off (ideally, when the skin is still damp) to lock in moisture.

Hot tubs should be avoided as they are not recommended or safe during pregnancy due to the high temperature and increased infection risk. The high temperatures and standing water of hot tubs, even with the chlorine, can easily become breeding grounds for germs.

Prevent Infection

While warm, soapy water is just fine, there are basic precautions you can take to reduce the (low) risk of contracting an infection from a bath.

  • As noted above, don’t bathe after your water has broken, as germs from the bathwater could potentially enter the uterus and endanger the baby.
  • Avoid the use of most bath oils or bath bombs as the ingredients could irritate your vagina or skin. Epsom salts and oatmeal baths are usually okay. Check with your doctor to confirm which types of bath products are safe for you to enjoy.
  • Don’t stay in the water too long—aim for 15 to 20 minutes maximum.

Step Safely

It’s important to watch out for slips and falls while getting in and out of the tub, especially later in pregnancy when your balance may be unsteady. Use nonslip bathmats both in and out of the tub and/or get help from a loved one if you feel an extra hand is needed.

A Word From Verywell

Pain relief and relaxation are two of the reasons that many women enjoy taking baths during pregnancy—and luckily, you can safely continue this activity. You may feel your aching joints relax as the baby's weight is lifted by the buoyancy of the water. It might just be your downtime to mentally chill and soak. Just because you are pregnant does not mean that you have to give up a soothing soak. Just pay attention to the temperature—and enjoy.

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  1. Czech I, Fuchs P, Fuchs A, et al. Pharmacological and Non-Pharmacological Methods of Labour Pain Relief-Establishment of Effectiveness and ComparisonInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(12):2792. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122792

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