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Mythbuster : I shouldn't have hot baths, dye my hair or exercise while pregnant

Mythbuster : I shouldn't have hot baths, dye my hair or exercise while pregnant

There are many myths associated with dos and don'ts when a woman is pregnant. Many of these are taking hot baths, dyeing their hair, and exercising during pregnancy. While hot water baths may soothe your body aches, they might also affect you and your baby if the temperature is too high or they are taken for a prolonged period of time. Another popular belief is that the addition of exercise might not be good for your health while you are pregnant. But that can actually be beneficial for lesser pain, healthy labor, etc. if done in moderation. Other such beliefs may be either false or only partially true. Clearly, during pregnancy, people indulge in excessive superstitions. Therefore, consult your doctor if you have any doubts regarding these.  


Should you take hot baths during pregnancy?


Hot baths are considered unsafe during pregnancy as the main concern with taking a hot bath is the risk of increasing body temperature because of the following reasons:

  1. Taking a bath in a hot tub for more than 10 minutes can raise the body temperature to higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Some researchers have stated that infants born to women who had fevers in their early pregnancy have a greater risk of serious abnormalities of the brain and the spinal cord.
  3. A study of birth defects revealed that women who used hot tubs for prolonged periods during early pregnancy were more likely to give birth to babies with anencephaly, and gastroschisis though more studies need to be conducted to firmly establish this fact.
  4. High temperatures have been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects.
  5. Another concern related to prolonged hot baths during pregnancy is infection. Bubbles, bath bombs, and bath salts should also be avoided as these contain ingredients that can cause itching or irritation. Bath salts can change the pH level of the vagina, making it more susceptible to fungal infection. A change in pH may kill the good bacteria in the vagina, which can cause itching, irritation, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.

It is totally fine to take baths while you're pregnant as long as the water isn't too hot, i.e., the water shouldn’t be warmer than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You should avoid soaking in water that is hot enough to raise your body temperature higher than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). That's why saunas, steam baths, and hot tubs aren't advised during pregnancy.


Should you dye your hair during pregnancy?


Though there are limited studies that show it’s safe to color your hair while pregnant, some studies have stated that very high doses of the chemicals present in hair dyes may cause harm to the developing fetus. Hence it is better to avoid the use of hair color in pregnancy. 


Can you exercise during pregnancy?


Maintaining a regular exercise regimen will help you stay healthy during your pregnancy. Exercise on a regular basis when pregnant helps improve your posture and alleviate certain common pains and discomforts, such as backaches and exhaustion. Physical activity may help to avoid gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy), decrease stress, and increase stamina for labor and delivery.

If you were physically active before becoming pregnant, you should be able to continue in moderation. Instead of attempting to exercise at your previous level, do what is most comfortable for you right now. Low-impact aerobics is preferred over high-impact aerobics.

Exercise may not be recommended if you have a medical condition such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as bleeding or spotting, a low placenta, a threatened or recurrent miscarriage, previous premature births or a history of early labor, or a weak cervix. Whenever in doubt regarding exercise or anything else, always ask your doctor first and follow the advice.


Dr. Pooja Mittal
Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Meet The Doctor
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