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Should pregnant women avoid hot tubs?
Q: Are hot tubs safe during pregnancy? I'm trying to conceive, and I love soaking in hot water.
A: I wish I could give the green light on hot tubs, but it's probably safer to avoid these pleasurable soaks during pregnancy.

The March of Dimes advises women to avoid hot tubs if they are trying to conceive or are already pregnant. The concern is that raising your body temperature over 102 degrees may increase the risk of neural tube defects. Research has shown a link between having a fever during early pregnancy and the occurence of neural tube defects; there is a concern that hot tubs could cause the same problems by raising your core body temperature. When your body temperature rises, your baby's temperature also increases. Unfortunately, your baby has no way of independently regulating its temperature, and prolonged overheating may be physically stressful for early development. Taking a warm bath at home is fine, particularly if you don't feel excessively hot. Later in pregnancy having brief exposure to very warm water may ease aching muscles but should be promptly balanced with time to cool off.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist