September 6th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Is it OK to sauna, steam if I'm pregnant?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Jennifer Shu.

Question from  Sheila in Raleigh, North Carolina: I just found out that I'm pregnant. I've heard that hot tubs aren't good during pregnancy, but what about steam rooms and saunas? I also like to do hot yoga.

Expert answer

Congratulations on your pregnancy! These are excellent questions since anything you do now has the potential to affect your pregnancy - from making you sick to causing a miscarriage or creating birth defects. It's most important to be careful during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy), when the baby is developing especially rapidly. Fortunately you can probably continue most of your usual activities as long as they do not cause injury to you or the growing baby. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women with uncomplicated pregnancies exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week.

While high-impact activities (such as some contact sports, downhill skiing and horseback riding) can be dangerous due to the potential for physical injuries, the concern about activities that involve heat, such as hot tubs, is that your core body temperature can become elevated. The March of Dimes recommends avoiding a core (inner) body temperature of about 102.2 degrees F (39 degrees C), as this elevation may lead to birth defects or decreased oxygen and nutrition to the baby. ACOG states that women might “reasonably be advised to remain in saunas for no more than 15 minutes and in hot tubs for no more than 10 minutes” to avoid increasing one’s core temperature. Also, it may help to avoid submerging one’s head, arms, shoulders and upper chest in a hot tub.

Regarding hot (also called Bikram) yoga, it is best to talk with your obstetrician first. If you get the green light to continue, be sure to watch for signs of overheating and avoid poses that place too much pressure on the uterus.

In general, exercising during pregnancy is very dependent on each individual. Some people are able to continue their usual level of activity throughout most if not all of their pregnancy, while others are sensitive to any exertion that raises their heart rate. Keep in mind that if you experience symptoms such as lightheadedness, fainting, a rapid heart rate that doesn't slow back down or dehydration - no matter how gentle your activities may be or how great shape you are in - it's important to rest and contact your doctor or midwife if needed. Above all else, listen to your body while exercising both during your pregnancy and beyond. Good luck!

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. someoneElse

    The link to this article used the word 'Preggos'. Is this really an acceptable word for a supposed high-level, professional news site???

    September 6, 2010 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jokiebird

      I thought the same thing. Not professional at all.

      September 6, 2010 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • Dawn

      You can only fit so many characters on a headline.
      Why do people comment on articles just to whine about them? Don't like it, go write your own articles!

      September 6, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • R

      I find that and preggers to be equally cringe-worthy, but I suppose it was the shortest way to get the point of the article across with limited character space...

      September 6, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Paul Ronco

      It's actually a pornographic term, and CNN used it to elevate the hit count of this article.

      September 6, 2010 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
  2. Jbear

    i mean its a pretty common term

    September 6, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Paul Ronco

    I'm fairly sure "Sauna, steam room OK when pregnant?" would have also fit nicely.

    September 6, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Clayton

    Awe boo hoo they used preggo. You still got what they meant. Stop your whining.

    September 6, 2010 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. amigay

    Preggo in a steam room??? geez what a visual! talk about watching a whale cooking...

    September 6, 2010 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dee

    I can't believe this is even a question. People used to do this to cause miscarriage/abortion and still do in some parts of the world. What short memories we have.

    September 7, 2010 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. cnn1nn

    I have been running health spas for over 7 years now and never do I allow pregnant guests, especially those in the first trimester, into any hot experience – sauna, steam or tub. A warm (98 degree) salt pool is okay but again, not for too long (10 min) as your body core temp will rise and it needs time to cool down after you get out. Especially avoid infrared saunas – although they don't feel as hot as a conventional sauna, infrared penetrates tissue more so and therefore a more rapid body core temperature increase.

    September 8, 2010 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Alden Pulver

    The Three Bala Centre was developed by Donald Pulver and Paul Tyrone.

    September 19, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Rabbi Morey Huckleman//Great Neck New York

    Please refrain from this unhealthy activity.

    September 19, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Conrad Moskowitz Jr.

    Rabbi Huckleman is correct!

    September 19, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Alden Contino

    I agree with Rabbi Huckleman.

    September 19, 2010 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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    We feel Rabbi Huckleman is groovy!

    November 13, 2010 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Daniel Tabas Development Enterprises Inc.

    We agree with Lucky.

    November 13, 2010 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Tabas Food & Beverage Corporation Inc.

    Rabbi Huckleman is not our spokesperson.

    November 13, 2010 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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