Is It Safe To Sit In A Sauna While Pregnant?

There can be plenty to stress about during pregnancy, which can take a real toll on the body. From muscle aches to leg cramps to everything in between, hopping into a sauna might sound like a good way to unwind and provide some relief for your discomfort. But it might not be the safest remedy.

Saunas are rooms made of wood that create a very dry heat, usually kept to a temperature between 180 to 195° Fahrenheit (via Healthline). The humidity is typically maintained under 15%. People often use saunas after exercising to soothe sore muscles, for general relaxation, to reduce pain relief, and detoxify.

Those who are new to saunas should start small and sit for no more than 10 minutes, building up a tolerance over time (via Healthline). Be sure you drink a glass of water before and after using a sauna, as the heat can make you dehydrated. Individuals who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, or an abnormal heart rhythm should only use a sauna for five minutes at a time and adjust back to cooler temperatures slowly.

Sauna use while pregnant isn't a good idea

Women who are pregnant should avoid sitting in saunas altogether, according to the American Pregnancy Association. This is because increased core temperatures of pregnant women during the first trimester are associated with a higher risk of birth defects in babies. While more research is needed on the topic, this seems to be especially important in early pregnancy, as babies are susceptible to neural tube defects in the first six weeks (via WebMD). Neural tube defects can result in spina bifida, anencephaly, and serious health conditions that affect the spine and skull.

There are different guidelines around using saunas later in pregnancy, so check with your doctor before using a sauna at any point in your pregnancy (via Healthline). If you're not sure, err on the side of caution and stay out of saunas while pregnant. Hot tubs can have similar effects, so be sure to use caution in any high heat situation during pregnancy.

Other ways of relieving stress and discomfort during pregnancy can include getting a prenatal massage and practicing breathing exercises (via American Pregnancy Association).