Like everything else in the nine months leading up to your pregnancy, getting yourself fresh and clean can be a difficult and strenuous task. In the shower, you’ll feel incapable of reaching the areas you normally reach, which will leave you feeling less than your best afterwards. Even if you prefer the shower, you might want to switch to baths when your baby bump gets especially large. Sitting in the tub will give you the ability to better reach all of your body, and it will also serve as a relaxing ritual at the end of a long, ankle-swollen day.

While bathing during your pregnancy is a good idea, there are a few tips you should know that will protect you and your baby. Studies show that extreme heat, especially in the third trimester, has been linked to serious pregnancy and birth complications that could threaten your baby’s life. Technically, you should measure your bath water with a bath thermometer. The water should not exceed 98 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a bath water, run the hot and cold water together so that it is lukewarm and not hot. If you need to slowly ease yourself in because of the heat, it is too hot.

When you’re sure the temperature is safe, it’s important that you stay safe in other ways as well. Only bathe when your partner or another family member is home to help you in and out of the tub. Many pregnancy injuries happen in the bathroom because women are not accustomed to their new center of gravity. Imbalance combined with a slippery surface could mean a trip to the hospital, so always make sure someone is home even if only to hear your call for help. Keep a glass of water with you when you use the tub to prevent dehydration too, since the heat and steam could leave you feeling parched. Finally, don’t get out of the tub until it has drained. The same study showed that sudden, drastic temperature changes could cause a blood pressure drop, which is dangerous for you and your baby. Let your body cool down slowly.

Bathing is one of those pregnancy requirements that you might not actually mind. Even if you’re more of a shower-person, you’ll quickly get used to the intense relaxation you feel when you submerge your body in warm, comforting water after a long day.

Source: Tanya TIllett: Pregnancy Pause: Extreme Heat Linked to Shortened Gestation. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 119 Issue 10 October 2011

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