It’s no secret that pregnancy can come with its fair share of aches, pain, and discomfort. Enter the heating pad—one of the most comforting ways to find relief.
But is it okay to use a heating pad while pregnant? Are there any dangers involved for you and your baby?
Let’s take a look.
Heat pads and pregnancy FAQs
Can the heat affect my unborn baby?
When you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid excessive heat. The CDC warns that when you’re pregnant you are at greater risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or dehydration—all of which can be dangerous for both you and your baby.
Excessive heat exposure can lead to all sorts of health problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Growing research suggests that there also appears to be a tie between your baby’s development and heat while you’re pregnant.
Heat is particularly dangerous in the first trimester when your baby’s major systems are forming.
This study, for example, found a link between the use of hot tubs and the risk of complications with the development of the neural tube—the forerunner to your baby’s central nervous system.
Later in your pregnancy, the risks are more associated with developing dehydration which, as the American Pregnancy Association tells us, can lead to complications and premature birth.
That’s why KidsHealth recommends you avoid temperatures of 102°F (38.9°C) and above for over 10 minutes. This means staying away from:
- Hot tubs.
- Long, hot baths.
- Electric blankets.
- Too much time in the very hot sun.
So what about heating pads? Do they fall into this category?
Can you use a heating pad while pregnant?
The short answer is yes. Heating pads can be a great way to reduce the pain you may feel in your muscles or joints, improve your circulation and mobility, and reduce muscle spasms.
Lower back pain is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms, with most studies estimating that it occurs in about 50% of pregnancies. And heating pads can really help.
The caveat? It’s important to follow the safety guidelines.
Can a heating pad cause birth defects?
You are at risk for pregnancy complications if your body’s core temperature rises too fast and too high for too long.
Provided you only use a heating pad on isolated parts of your body for shorter periods of time, you and your baby should be fine.
The goal is to avoid any activities or environments that cause your core temperature to spike.
How long is it safe to use a heating pad while pregnant?
Here are some guidelines for using your heating pad safely:
- Keep your heating pad sessions to under ten minutes at a time.
- If you feel you are overheating in any way, stop. Be extra careful in the first trimester as there are higher risks at this time.
- Avoid sleeping with your heating pad on as you do not have as much control over it.
- Make the heating pad your only heat source. (Don’t turn on the heating pad and the hairdryer at the same time, for example.)
- If you have any health concerns, talk to your healthcare professional before using your heating pad.
Can I use deep heat on my back while pregnant?
What about a deep heat rub to soothe those aches and pains?
Unfortunately, this is not safe to use while you are pregnant because it contains anti-inflammatories which can affect your baby.
A prenatal massage can be an excellent way to soften the blow of pregnancy pain.
And reach out to your healthcare provider if you’re struggling, both to rule out any health issues and to ask for their advice for easing the pain.
Also, there’s nothing like your Peanut community to remind you you’re not alone through this journey.
You’ve got this.
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