Hot tubs and Pregnancy

Pregnant women often wonder whether it is safe to go in a hot tub. Using a hot tub may seem like a good idea to alleviate some of the typical discomforts that occur during pregnancy.

In this guide we’ll show you the risks of going into a hot tub while pregnant, and what you can do to reduce any potential risk.

Table of Content  [toggle view]

    1. The hot tub pregnancy myth – truth or fiction?

    2. One of the most common myths surrounding pregnancy is the idea that using hot tubs can be harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies. But what’s the truth behind this myth?

      The myth

      The so-called hot tub myth states that you should definitely avoid hot tubs and saunas while pregnant. Many believe that hot tubs can cause birth defects or miscarriage, especially if used during the first trimester of pregnancy.

      As is the case with many myths, this statement is only partially true.

      The association between hot tubs and potential pregnancy risks has been a topic of discussion for decades. The myth likely originated from genuine concerns about activities that raise a pregnant woman’s core temperature.

      The reality

      While it’s true that prolonged exposure to high temperatures can be harmful during pregnancy, it’s essential to understand the specifics. The primary concern is not the hot tub itself but the elevated body temperature it can cause.

      When a pregnant woman’s core body temperature rises above 102°F (38.9°C) for an extended period, it can potentially harm the developing fetus, leading to neural tube defects or other complications.

      The early weeks of pregnancy are a critical period for fetal development as vital organs, the brain, and the spinal cord are formed. Any external factors such as a raised core body temperature can influence these crucial developmental processes.

    3. A Trimester-by-Trimester Guide

    4. First Trimester: The Delicate Beginning

      The first trimester is a whirlwind of changes, both for you and your baby. It’s during these initial weeks that your baby’s vital organs and systems start forming.

      Now, you might’ve heard some chatter about hot tubs being a no-go during this period. There’s a reason for that caution. Immersing yourself in very hot water can raise your body temperature, which isn’t ideal for your baby’s development.

      But don’t ditch the idea of relaxation just yet – if you’re keen on a warm soak, keep it short and sweet. Ensure the water isn’t too hot, and if you start feeling overheated, it’s time to step out.

      Remember, it’s all about balance and listening to your body.

      Second Trimester: The Comfort Phase

      Congratulations on reaching the second trimester! By now, you’re probably feeling a bit more energetic and comfortable. This trimester is often dubbed the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. So, what about those hot tub sessions? While the initial critical development phase is over, caution is still the name of the game.

      The good news is, you can still enjoy a warm dip, but moderation remains key. Keep the water temperature at a comfortable level, and limit your time. It’s always a good idea to have a cool drink by your side and to hydrate before and after your soak. And, as always, if something feels off, it’s best to get out and cool down.

      Third Trimester: The Home Stretch

      You’re in the final stretch now! The third trimester is a mix of excitement and anticipation as you prepare to meet your little one. Your body is working overtime, and some relaxation sounds heavenly, right?

      Hot tubs can still be on the menu, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Your skin might be more sensitive now, and your body might have a harder time regulating its temperature.

      Opt for shorter sessions in the tub and pay attention to how you feel. If you’re experiencing any discomfort or feel too warm, it’s time to exit. As your due date approaches, always consult with your healthcare provider about any activities, including using hot tubs.

    5. The health risks

    6. Overheating

      Hot tubs increase the overall body temperature, and the body reacts by diverting blood to the skin in order to sweat and cool off. The body is however unable to lose the excess heat through sweating. This process is called thermal regulation.

      The subsequent lack of blood flow to the internal organs and brain may result in overheating or hyperthermia.

      According to OTIS, a core body temperature of 101º F and above should be avoided during pregnancy. The AGOG also warns about the danger of overheating, recommending that pregnant women never let their core body temperature exceed 102.2º F.

      Several other studies have also shown that prolonged exposure to temperatures of above 102°F can be harmful to the development of your baby, causing congenital disabilities like neural tube defects (spina bifida or anencephaly) and even pregnancy loss.

      Using a hot tub is most dangerous during early pregnancy, more specifically during the first six weeks of the first trimester of pregnancy.

      This risk of complications increases even more when a hot tub is used on a regular basis and/or for an extended period of time.


      Pregnant women are more prone to fainting while using a hot tub. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause women to feel more faint than usual.

      If the body also overheats due to extreme heat, the blood pressure is lowered while there is not enough oxygen reaching the brain, which causes feelings of dizziness or even fainting.

    7. Safety recommendations

    8. Know when to avoid a hot tub

      Refrain from exposure to a hot tub during your first trimester, as a raised core body temperature could negatively affect the formation (“organogenesis”) of the embryo’s spine.

      You also should avoid soaking in a hot tub when you have any chronic health conditionspregnancy complications or an already elevated body temperature.

      Keep hydrated

      Expecting mothers are more at danger of dehydration in a hot tub, which can lead to many health complications. It is very important to drink enough to replace the fluids that are sweated out.

      Place a bottle of water beside you, and drink often to stay hydrated.

      Lower the temperature

      Most hot tubs are set out of the box between 100°F and 102°F, and have a (legally set) maximum temperature of 104°F.

      You should program the hot tub to run at a lower temperature, the optimal temperature being around 97°F to 98°F.

      thermometer could also be put in the water to monitor that this lower temperature is maintained.

      Assume a correct position

      In order to avoid overheating, you should sit with your arms and chest above the water.

      Find a comfortable sitting position, and try not to submerge your head, arms, shoulders or upper chest.

      Keep the hot tub clean

      Hot tubs, when not properly maintained and sanitized carry the risk of infection like Legionnaires’ Disease (Legionella) and other germs.

      Be sure to have the hot tub disinfected and in a sanitary condition at all times!

      Limit your hot tub session

      It takes on average about ten minutes in a hot tub for your body to reach a core temperature of 102°F.

      Limit the time you spend in a hot tub to maximum 10 minutes or less, and allow your body to cool down afterwards.

      Leave when you feel uncomfortable

      Listen to the signals your body is sending you, especially when soaking in a hot tub!

      Leave the hot tub immediately when you feel uncomfortable or experience symptoms like faintness, clamminess and dizziness or if you stop sweating.

      Only go into a hot tub when supervised

      Never use a hot tub alone when you’re pregnant, expecting mothers should always ask someone to monitor and supervise them in case any problems occur.

      Avoid the hot spots in a hot tub

      Some places in a hot tub are considerably warmer than others. Try not to sit near the inlet, jets or other spots that usually provide the influx of newly heated water.

    9. Conclusion

    10. Can you safely go in a hot tub when pregnant?

      Women can go in a hot tub during pregnancy, but only if they are fully informed about the potential risks and stick to these important safety rules and precautions.

      Pregnant women who have any doubts regarding hot tub safety, who have used a hot tub for extended periods of time or are in their first trimester should consult their physician before proceeding to use a hot tub.

    Additional Resources:

    posted by Steven L.    July 5, 2020    September 9, 2023