Most pregnant women are aware that they should avoid soaking in hot tubs or spending time in the sauna for the duration of their pregnancy.
But what about heating pads?
Are heating pads safe during pregnancy? Heating pads are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. Using a heat pad on isolated parts of your body, such as your back, hips, joints, legs, or neck, in order to relieve muscle or joint pain will not raise your core body temperature enough to cause any harm to your baby.
Let’s discuss a few things to keep in mind about using heat therapy while pregnant.
Heating Pads During Pregnancy – What To Know
Pregnancy brings its fair share of aches and pains. Heating pads can provide sweet relief for some mamas who are feeling the weight (literally) of pregnancy in their sore muscles and painful joints.
Maximum Time To Use Heating Pad While Pregnant
It is best to use a heating pad in small time increments while pregnant, preferably 10 minutes or less.
Always stop using the heating pad if you feel like you are beginning to get too hot or are sweating.
Where on the Body To Use Heating Pad While Pregnant
It is safe to use a heating pad on most body parts while pregnant, including the back, hips, legs, joints, and neck.
These are the parts of a woman’s body that take the brunt of pregnancy as they support the increasing weight and posture changes that occur throughout the nine months.
While using a heating pad on your abdomen for short periods of time while pregnant has not proven to be dangerous, most women prefer soaking in a warm bath or changing positions to treat minor abdominal pains.
Heating Pad Benefits
The use of a heating pad is a form of heat therapy, which is a common non-invasive and non-addictive way to treat muscle or joint pain.
Heat therapy is effective because it opens blood vessels, which increases circulation, bringing more oxygen and blood to the muscles to reduce joint pain or alleviate soreness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
It can also increase range of motion and reduce muscle spasms.
During pregnancy, many women experience muscle and/or joint pain and discomfort due to weight changes, a compromised posture, and loosened ligaments from hormonal changes.
Using a heating pad can be a safe and effective way to get relief from these unpleasant pregnancy side effects.
There is no evidence to suggest that using a heating pad for brief periods of time while pregnant is dangerous.
However, take the following precautions to minimize any potential risks to the baby:
- Avoid using it for long periods of time. Apply in short increments of 10 minutes.
- Stop using if you get too hot.
- Never fall asleep with a heating pad that does not have an automatic shut-off timer.
- Avoid using multiple sources of heat at the same time. For example, do not use a blow dryer at the same time as a heat pad as it could result in overheating.
- Stop use if you notice any changes in the baby’s behavior such as decreased movement.
- Always consult your doctor before applying heat to your belly or back while pregnant.
Heating Pad While Pregnant First Trimester
When it comes to heat, you want to be the most careful during the first trimester as it is the riskiest time to experience abnormal increases in your body temperature.
Using a heating pad is unlikely to raise your core body temperature; however, be cognizant of how you are feeling, and stop using it if you begin to feel overheated or start sweating.
Heating Pad While Pregnant Third Trimester
You are most likely to want to use a heating pad during the third trimester when your belly is ever-growing and the aches and pains are beginning to set in.
It is perfectly safe to use a heating pad at this time in your pregnancy, but continue to be aware of how you are feeling, and stop using it if it gets too hot.
Heating Pad Birth Defects
A 2011 study linked the use of a hot tub during pregnancy to neural tube abnormalities that resulted in brain injuries or birth defects in newborns.
Many people wonder if a heating pad or any other form of heat therapy could have the same effects if used during pregnancy.
The damage happens when a pregnant mother’s core body temperature is raised significantly, which happens while sitting in a hot tub.
However, using a heating pad on an isolated part of your body will not raise your core body temperature, especially if it is used for short amounts of time.
There is no evidence to suggest that using a heating pad while pregnant will result in birth defects or other abnormalities.
When To Use a Heating Pad
A heating pad is convenient because it is small and portable and can be used just about anywhere at any time.
Many pregnant women find themselves the sorest at the end of the day, and using a heating pad at night helps them get the relief they need for a good night’s rest. (Well, the best you can get while pregnant, that is!)
I Fell Asleep With a Heating Pad While Pregnant
Medical experts advise against going to bed with a heating pad, especially one without an automatic timer, in order to avoid the risk of falling asleep.
Extended use of a heating pad could result in overheating, burns, and possible complications while pregnant.
If you do happen to fall asleep with a heating pad, chances are that everything is okay.
It is not likely that the heating pad elevated your core body temperature enough to create a risk. However, if you notice changes in your baby’s behavior or movements, contact your provider.
Heating Pad Alternatives
The heating pads referred to above are electric heating pads that often have a timer. There are heating pad alternatives that can provide the same relief including:
- Warm bath
- Warm wet towel
- Rice bag that has been warmed in the microwave
- Bag of warm water
Safe Pain Relief While Pregnant
If heat therapy isn’t working for you or you want to try something different, take a look at these other forms of pain relief that are safe for pregnancy.
- Exercise and stretching
What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?
There are several possible contributors to the hip pain that you might experience during pregnancy.
Weight gain and a compromised posture due to your pregnant belly are possible culprits.
Additionally, hip and other joint pains during pregnancy could be due to hormonal changes that cause loose ligaments and joints.
What Causes Belly Pain During Pregnancy?
Round ligament pain is the most common reason for abdominal pain during pregnancy.
As the ligaments stretch to support your pregnancy, you may feel harmless stomach pains that can be either dull or sharp.
A stomach virus, kidney stones, fibroids, and food sensitivities are other possible causes of harmless abdominal pain during pregnancy.
If you feel severe abdominal cramping or have any vaginal bleeding, it is important to contact your doctor as these are often signs of miscarriage.
Taking care of yourself is important during pregnancy. You deserve it! Don’t hesitate to reach for your heating pad the next time your pregnancy aches start to get you down.
Charlynn is an educator and mom to fraternal boy/girl twins. She loves learning through the experiences she has with her littles and using her knowledge to help other moms as they embark on the journey of motherhood.