Is it safe to use a sauna or jacuzzi if I'm pregnant?

There is little research on using saunas, jacuzzis and similar heated leisure facilities during pregnancy. However, it's advisable to avoid them because of the risks of overheating, dehydration and fainting.

During pregnancy you're likely to feel warmer than normal. This is a result of hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin. These hormonal changes can also often make pregnant women feel faint.

Overheating

When you use a sauna, jacuzzi, hot tub, steam bath or steam room, your body cannot lose heat effectively by sweating. Your body's core temperature therefore rises.

It's possible that a significant rise in your core temperature may affect your unborn baby's development, particularly in the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy.

If you're pregnant, you may feel hotter anyway and sweat more. This is because of the hormonal changes and increased blood supply to your skin.

You therefore may wish to avoid activities that make you hotter.

Feeling faint

If you overheat, more blood flows close to your skin to help cool your body by sweating. This means less blood flows to your internal organs, such as your brain. If this happens, your brain may not get enough blood and therefore oxygen. This can make you feel faint.

When you're pregnant, the hormonal changes in your body can make you feel faint more often. You may wish to avoid situations where you could get too hot, such as sitting in a jacuzzi or steam room.

Take care when you get out of a hot bath or stand up quickly, as these can also make you feel faint.

Water temperature

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that if you're exercising in water – for example, at an antenatal class – the temperature of the water should not be above 32°C (89.6°F).

If you are using a hydrotherapy pool (a special warm shallow pool), the temperature should not be above 35°C (95°F).

Some hot tubs can be as hot as 40°C (104°F), so it may be best to avoid them.

Exercise

For the same reasons, it's also not advisable to exercise in hot or humid conditions. Make sure you drink plenty of water and other fluids when you exercise.

See the pregnancy and baby guide for more information on exercising during pregnancy.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Sex during pregnancy

An expert discusses the myths surrounding sex during pregnancy and reveals what's true and what's not.

Media last reviewed: 30/04/2013

Next review due: 30/04/2015

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2012

Next review due: 30/05/2014