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Hot tubs: safe during pregnancy?
Q: Is it safe to use hot tubs during pregnancy?
A: Your question is near and dear to my heart. I have always loved hot water, and I grappled with this issue during my own pregnancies.

Generally, doctors do not recommend hot tubs during pregnancy, particularly in the first months. The concern about hot tubs stems from the observation that having a high body temperature from a fever during early pregnancy may be linked to higher rates of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.

A 2003 survey of more than 1,000 pregnant women showed an association between early pregnancy hot tub use and miscarriage. This study suggested women who used hot tubs were more than two times more likely to miscarry than women who didn’t use a hot tub. While this study has several limitations, it does raise the possibility that miscarriage is higher in women who use hot tubs.

We do know that hot tubs raise the core body temperature and don’t provide any way for the growing baby to dissipate that extra heat. Therefore, I would advise pregnant women to avoid hot tubs in the first trimester, and to allow very limited exposure to hot water immersion later in pregnancy. If you choose to use a hot tub, make sure to get out and cool off every 10 minutes or whenever you feel overheated.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist