For many pregnant women, sitting in a sauna sounds like a great way to ease muscle aches related to pregnancy. It is important to use caution when choosing a sauna for relaxation and pain relief. Saunas can cause hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature.
What is the concern with saunas during pregnancy?
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a body temperature of 101º F and above can raise concerns during pregnancy. Some studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects in babies of women who had an increased body temperature during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a sauna is not recommended during pregnancy.
There are various types of saunas, and every sauna is programmed to maintain a different temperature and humidity level. Before choosing to use a sauna during pregnancy, it is best to seek the advice of your health care provider.
How you can relax without using a sauna:
The Association recommends that you avoid the use of saunas during pregnancy to ensure you do not get overheated. Relieving stress and muscle aches is still important during pregnancy. Here are some ideas to help you relax.
- Take a warm bath
- Indulge in a massage from a professional or your partner
- Practice the breathing exercises you will use during labor
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Organization of Teratology Information Services, http://otispregnancy.org/
Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, CH. 5.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny P.T., et al, CH. 5.
American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org