Can I Use a Hot Tub While Pregnant?

pregnant woman in a bathing suit

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If you're pregnant or planning to be, you might have heard the advice to avoid hot tubs for fear of inducing a miscarriage. Learn why taking a hot bath might be the better option with this overview.

Why Doctors Warn Pregnant Women to Avoid Hot Tubs

The reason behind the recommendation against hot tubs has to do with body temperature. Researchers have found that having an elevated body temperature in early pregnancy increases the risk of neural tube defects; the same finding applies to fevers during pregnancy.

Neural tube defects are one of the reasons prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which has been found to lower the incidences of these defects.

There's some evidence that using hot tubs in early pregnancy could increase the risk of miscarriage in addition to neural tube defects , but the evidence of the link isn't conclusive -- the more likely risk is that the baby will have health problems.

Because of the known link with neural tube defects, doctors recommend that women avoid raising their core body temperatures above 101 degrees Fahrenheit during pregnancy, not only avoiding hot tubs but also monitoring any fevers in order to prevent them from reaching that level. Just 10 to 20 minutes in a hot tub can achieve a body temperature of 102 degrees. Thus, the best bet is to not use a hot tub during pregnancy, just to be on the safe side.

Of course, a number of women don't realize they're pregnant early on and might saunter into a hot tub with no idea of the growing life inside of them. But if you know that you're pregnant, why take the risk? Besides, there are other options if you want a hot tub-like experience.

Alternatives to Hot Tubs

A hot bath might be a safer option if you just can't go without a hot soak. In a bath, the water cools quickly whereas a hot tub maintains a hot temperature. In addition, your body is not fully submerged in a standard bathtub, thus your temperature would rise more slowly.

But even a hot bath could pose risks if the water is too hot for too long, so if you do take a hot bath, monitor your body temperature and the temperature of the water in order to avoid risk. If you're the worrying kind, avoid hot tubs and hot baths altogether. It's better to be overly cautious than to engage in any activity that you'll beat yourself up for later.

Bottom Line

If you have questions about hot tubs, hot baths, and your pregnancy, speak to your doctor about the possible risks. If you're a regular hot tub user, consider deactivating yours. Let your friends and family know about the possible threat to your baby if they try to convince you to get into a hot tub with them!

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kerr SM, Parker SE, Mitchell AA, Tinker SC, Werler MM. Periconceptional maternal fever, folic acid intake, and the risk for neural tube defects. Ann Epidemiol. 2017;(27)12:777-782.e1.  doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.10.010

  2. Zolotor AJ, Carlough MC. Update on Prenatal Care. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Feb 1;(89)3:199-208.

  3. American Pregnancy Association. Pregnant in a hot tub.

  4. Ravanelli N, Casasola W, English T, Edwards KM, Jay O. Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis. Br J Sports Med. 2019;(53)13:799-805.  doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097914

Additional Reading

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.