Can Pregnant Women Use Traditional Saunas?

Are you curious about whether or not pregnant women can safely enjoy the relaxation and warmth of traditional saunas? Well, wonder no more! This article will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about whether or not it is safe for expecting mothers to indulge in traditional saunas. So sit back, relax, and let’s get started!

Potential Risks of Sauna Use During Pregnancy

Overheating and Hyperthermia

Using a traditional sauna during pregnancy can pose the risk of overheating and hyperthermia. The high temperatures in saunas can cause your body’s core temperature to rise significantly, which can be dangerous for both you and your baby. Overheating can lead to complications such as neural tube defects and other fetal malformations.


Sauna sessions can cause excessive sweating, leading to dehydration. During pregnancy, it is crucial to stay well-hydrated to support the growth and development of your baby. Dehydration can also lead to dizziness, fainting, and other complications.

Low Blood Pressure

Pregnancy often causes fluctuations in blood pressure, and the heat of a sauna can further lower your blood pressure. This can potentially lead to feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. It’s essential to prioritize your safety and avoid any activities that may exacerbate low blood pressure during pregnancy.

Fetal Malformation

Exposing yourself to the high temperatures of a sauna can increase the risk of fetal malformation. Research suggests that hyperthermia during early pregnancy can disrupt the development of the embryonic neural tube, potentially leading to conditions such as spina bifida or other birth defects.

Maternal Infections

Sauna environments, particularly public ones, can harbor bacteria and viruses that may cause infections. Due to the changes in your immune system during pregnancy, you may be more susceptible to infections. In rare cases, certain infections can potentially harm both you and your developing baby.

Respiratory Distress

The intense heat in saunas can make it difficult to breathe properly, potentially causing respiratory distress. This can be especially concerning during pregnancy when your body’s oxygen demands are higher. Restricted oxygen supply can have adverse effects on the health and development of your baby.

Dizziness and Fainting

Due to increased blood flow to the skin’s surface and the dilation of blood vessels, saunas can induce feelings of dizziness and fainting. These symptoms can be particularly dangerous during pregnancy, as they may lead to falls or other accidents that could harm both you and your baby.

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Preterm Birth

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures in a sauna can increase the risk of preterm birth. The heat can stimulate contractions and potentially trigger preterm labor. Preterm birth can lead to numerous health complications for the baby and may require specialized medical intervention.

Reduced Fetal Growth

Research suggests that exposing yourself to excessive heat, such as in a sauna, may impede fetal growth. The heat can strain your body and divert resources away from your baby’s growth and development. It’s important to prioritize the healthy development of your baby and avoid any potential risks.

Increased Heart Rate

Sauna use elevates your heart rate due to the extreme temperatures. During pregnancy, your heart is already working harder to support the increased blood volume and oxygen demands. The added strain from high heat can further escalate your heart rate and potentially lead to complications.

Safety Guidelines for Sauna Use During Pregnancy

Consultation with Healthcare Provider

Before considering sauna use during pregnancy, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider. They can assess your individual health and pregnancy status, and provide personalized advice regarding the safety of sauna use. Your healthcare provider is the best resource to determine if sauna use is appropriate for you during pregnancy.

Monitoring Sauna Temperature

If your healthcare provider gives you the green light for sauna use, it is essential to closely monitor the sauna temperature. Stick to lower temperature settings and limit your exposure time. Avoid prolonged sessions and keep the overall climate of the sauna as comfortable as possible.

Limiting Sauna Sessions

To reduce potential risks, limit your sauna sessions to shorter durations. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is more likely to increase the risks associated with sauna use during pregnancy. It is recommended to keep your sauna sessions to 10-15 minutes or less.

Staying Hydrated

It is crucial to stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after sauna use. Drink plenty of water or other fluids to maintain hydration levels. Avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol, as these can contribute to dehydration. Replenishing fluids is vital to counteract the effects of sweating and reduce the risk of dehydration.

Using Sauna Accessories

Consider using sauna accessories, such as towels or seat covers, to create a barrier between your body and the hot surfaces. This can help prevent overheating and reduce the direct exposure to extreme temperatures. Additionally, using these accessories can provide some cushioning, making your sauna experience more comfortable.

Avoiding Overheating

Pay close attention to your body’s signals and avoid overheating during sauna use. If you begin to feel excessively hot or uncomfortable, it’s time to leave the sauna and cool down. The well-being of both you and your baby should always be prioritized over any potential benefits of sauna use.

Maintaining Adequate Ventilation

Ensure proper ventilation in the sauna to allow fresh air circulation. Good airflow helps dissipate the heat and ensures that you are not breathing in stagnant, overheated air. Adequate ventilation can contribute to better cooling and reduce the risks associated with sauna use during pregnancy.

Listening to Body Signals

Always listen to your body and pay attention to any warning signs or discomfort during sauna sessions. If you experience lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any other concerning symptoms, exit the sauna immediately. Trust your instincts and prioritize your well-being and that of your baby.

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Avoiding High Sauna Bench

To minimize the risk of falls or accidents, avoid sitting on high sauna benches during pregnancy. Opt for a lower level or bring a cushioned seat to provide additional comfort and stability. This reduces the chances of losing balance due to dizziness or fainting in the sauna environment.

Can Pregnant Women Use Traditional Saunas?

Alternatives to Traditional Saunas for Pregnant Women

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas are a popular alternative for pregnant women, as they provide a lower heat environment. These saunas use infrared light to heat the body directly, rather than heating the surrounding air. The lower temperatures in infrared saunas can reduce the risk of overheating and hyperthermia.

Steam Rooms

Steam rooms offer a more humid and moist environment compared to traditional saunas. The lower temperatures and increased humidity can be more tolerable for pregnant women. However, it is still essential to practice caution and follow safety guidelines while using steam rooms during pregnancy.

Hot Baths

Taking a hot bath can provide relaxation and many of the benefits associated with saunas. However, it is crucial to keep the water temperature at a safe level to prevent overheating. Avoid soaking in water that is too hot, as this can pose risks to both you and your baby.


Jacuzzis or hot tubs should generally be avoided during pregnancy. The high temperatures and water pressure can lead to overheating, dehydration, and potential complications. If you do choose to use a jacuzzi, ensure that the water temperature is safe, and limit your exposure time.

Natural Hot Springs

Natural hot springs can be a soothing experience during pregnancy. However, it is important to research and ensure that the hot spring you plan to visit maintains a safe temperature range. Avoid hot springs that are excessively hot and pay attention to your body’s comfort levels.

Benefits of Sauna Use During Pregnancy

Stress Relief

Sauna use, when done safely and with the guidance of a healthcare provider, can provide stress relief for pregnant women. The quiet and peaceful environment of a sauna, combined with the soothing heat, can help relax both the mind and body.

Improved Blood Circulation

The heat from a sauna can cause blood vessels to dilate, improving blood circulation throughout your body. Improved circulation can aid in transporting vital nutrients and oxygen to your baby, promoting their overall health and development.

Reduced Swelling

Pregnancy often leads to swelling in various parts of the body, such as the feet and ankles. Sauna use can help alleviate this swelling by promoting better circulation and reducing fluid retention.

Enhanced Detoxification

Sweating in a sauna can assist in eliminating toxins from the body. The increased body temperature and sweating can help flush out impurities, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Improved Skin Health

Sauna use can contribute to improved skin health during pregnancy. The heat and sweat can cleanse the pores, potentially reducing acne breakouts. Additionally, the increased circulation can give your skin a healthy glow.

Can Pregnant Women Use Traditional Saunas?

When Sauna Use is Strictly Contraindicated

High-Risk Pregnancy

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it is vital to avoid sauna use altogether. Conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and multiple pregnancies require extra caution, and exposing yourself to high temperatures can potentially worsen these conditions.


Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage in pregnant women. Sauna use can further elevate blood pressure and potentially worsen the symptoms of preeclampsia. It is crucial to prioritize your health and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

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Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes need to carefully monitor their blood sugar levels. Sauna use can affect blood sugar regulation and cause fluctuations, which can be detrimental for both the mother and the baby. It is advisable to avoid saunas if you have gestational diabetes.

Heart Conditions

If you have any pre-existing heart conditions or a history of heart problems, it is strongly advised to abstain from sauna use during pregnancy. The increased heart rate and strain on the cardiovascular system can pose significant risks for individuals with heart conditions.

Bleeding or Spotting

If you experience any bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, sauna use should be strictly avoided. These symptoms may indicate an underlying issue and require immediate medical attention. Sauna use can potentially exacerbate the situation, leading to further complications.

Amniotic Fluid Leakage

If you suspect amniotic fluid leakage or are experiencing a rupture of membranes, it is essential to avoid sauna use. The high temperatures and increased risk of infection in saunas can potentially harm you and your baby. Seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect amniotic fluid leakage.

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta covers part or all of the cervix during pregnancy. Sauna use can trigger bleeding and potentially lead to serious complications for both the mother and the baby. Sauna use is strictly contraindicated in cases of placenta previa.

Preterm Labor History

If you have a history of preterm labor or if you have previously given birth prematurely, it is best to avoid sauna use during your current pregnancy. The heat and increased heart rate associated with saunas can potentially induce contractions and labor, increasing the risk of another preterm birth.

Incompetent Cervix

For women with an incompetent cervix, sauna use can put additional stress on the cervix and potentially lead to complications. It is crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and avoid sauna use if you have been diagnosed with an incompetent cervix.

Multiple Pregnancy

For women carrying multiple babies (e.g., twins, triplets), sauna use is generally not recommended. The increased strain on your body and the risk of overheating can pose significant dangers to both you and your babies.

Scientific Studies and Expert Opinions

American Pregnancy Association

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should avoid saunas due to the potential risks of overheating, dehydration, and other complications. They recommend alternative methods of relaxation and stress relief for pregnant women, such as gentle exercise, prenatal yoga, and massages.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

The ACOG advises pregnant women to avoid saunas and hot tubs during pregnancy. They state that prolonged exposure to high temperatures can increase the risks of birth defects, preterm birth, and maternal dehydration. It is essential to follow the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider and refrain from using traditional saunas.

British Journal of Sports Medicine

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that the use of saunas during pregnancy should be avoided due to the risks of hyperthermia and increased heart rate. They emphasize the importance of maintaining body temperature regulation to prevent potential harm to the mother and the baby.

Expert Interviews

Experts in obstetrics and gynecology strongly discourage the use of traditional saunas during pregnancy. They highlight the potential risks of overheating, dehydration, and complications such as preterm birth. It is crucial to prioritize the health and safety of both you and your developing baby by avoiding sauna use.

Can Pregnant Women Use Traditional Saunas?


While traditional sauna use holds various risks during pregnancy, there are alternative methods of relaxation and stress relief that can be practiced safely. It is important to consider the potential risks associated with sauna use and prioritize the health and well-being of both you and your baby. Always consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in any activities that may pose risks during pregnancy. Ultimately, the decision to use a sauna during pregnancy should be based on personalized advice from your healthcare provider and the individual circumstances of your pregnancy.