Luxuriating in a warm, relaxing bath seems like the perfect antidote for pregnancy’s many aches and ouches. But expecting parents may fear that spending time in the tub could be harmful to their unborn baby, leaving many to Google questions like, Is it safe to take a bath while pregnant? and At what point in pregnancy should you stop taking baths? Before you settle in for a long soak—or resign yourself to 9 months worth of showers—keep reading to learn all about taking baths during pregnancy.

Can you take a bath while pregnant?

In the way-back times, doctors used to recommend avoiding baths during pregnancy, but today that’s an outdated view. In fact, the “no baths during pregnancy” advice was given before docs had a complete understanding of how the body works. Now, healthcare providers agree that it’s perfectly safe to take baths while pregnant…just be sure to make them brief, not too hot, and free of any potentially irritating bath add-in, like a fragrance-filled bubble bath. 

Here are some tips for safely taking a bath while pregnant:

  • Brief baths are best. One of the concerns with long baths during pregnancy is they increase your risk of vaginal irritation and infections.

  • Skip hot temps. Keep bath water around 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Steer clear of potentially dangerous chemicals.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends steering clear of personal care products that contain phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and/or fragrances.  Look for “fragrance free” bath products, since “unscented” products can contain harmful chemicals designed to hide odors.

Is it safe to take a bath while in labor?

Yes! In fact, ACOG notes that if you’re experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy and you're at least 37 weeks along, sitting in a tub of warm water during the first stage of labor might offer pain relief, decrease your chance of using an epidural during birth—and even shorten your labor by about 32 minutes! If your water has broken, some doctors will advise you not to labor in water, so it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before stepping in the tub. (Learn what Dr. Harvey Karp has to say about water births.)

Is it safe to take hot baths while pregnant?

The general consensus is that it’s unsafe to take prolonged hot baths while pregnant. That’s because hot water may reduce blood flow to the baby and raise your core body temperature above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit, which may put your baby-to-be at an increased risk for birth defects in the first trimester. And later in pregnancy an elevated body temperature may lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. The good news: It’s unlikely you’ll overheat in the bath, since bathwater cools over time and half of your body is usually peeking out of the water.

Are hot tubs safe during pregnancy?

The March of Dimes urges pregnant folks to avoid hot tubs (and saunas) during pregnancy…but they also offer a bit of leeway, noting that it can be acceptable and safe if you limit your hot-tub time to less than 10 minutes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and ACOG agree with the no-more-than-10-minutes rule—and they urge pregnant folks to sit with their arms and chest above the water to further help keep from getting too warm in a hot tub.

Are Epsom salt baths safe during pregnancy?

Yes, Epsom salt baths are not only safe during pregnancy—they can help ease stress and quell numerous pregnancy-related aches, like sore muscles and hemorrhoids. Add two cups of Epsom salt to your warm—but not too warm—bathwater, allowing the magnesium and sulfate to dissolve and absorb through your skin. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes and make sure your Epsom salt is made of 100% magnesium sulfate. (PS: You don’t need Epsom salts for a postpartum sitz bath to ease perineum pain. In fact, salts, oils, and other substances may cause inflammation.)

Are milk baths safe during pregnancy?

While milk bath maternity photos are still very popular, you may be wondering if milk baths are actually safe during pregnancy. The answer is: usually. But before you proceed with your milk bath photo shoot, check with your healthcare practitioner. If you get the go-ahead, make sure to…

  • Use fresh, pasteurized milk.

  • Check that your photographer doesn’t reuse milk from shoot to shoot.

  • Skip this trend if you are allergic to milk or lactose intolerant.

  • Keep the bath at a safe 98-degree temperature.

Are bubble baths safe during pregnancy?

It’s best to avoid bubble baths, bath bombs, bath salts, and any fragranced bath products while pregnant. These bath products contain chemicals, dyes, and fragrances that can alter vaginal pH and lead to vaginal irritation, yeast infection, even urinary tract infections. That’s important because pregnancy in and of itself already puts you at an elevated risk for UTIs and yeast infections.  (Learn more about beauty products to avoid while pregnant.)

What are the benefits of baths during pregnancy?

If you stick to the not-too-hot and not-too-long rule, baths during pregnancy can be beyond beneficial!

During pregnancy, baths can help…

  • Decrease swelling in the arms and legs

  • Increase amniotic fluids

  • Prevent premature contractions

  • Ease muscle pain

  • Relieve hemorrhoid pain

  • Lessen stress

  • Improve sleep! Just make sure your 10-minute warm bath is within an hour or two before bedtime!


More on Pregnancy Safety




  • UAMS Health: Can Pregnant Women Take Baths?
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): Toxic Chemicals: Steps to Stay Safer Before and During Pregnancy
  • ACOG: Immersion in Water During Labor and Delivery
  • UTSouthwestern Medical Center: Is it OK to use a hot tub during early pregnancy?
  • The Nemours Foundation, KidsHealth: Preventing Overheating During Pregnancy
  • March of Dimes: Help prevent neural tube defects before you get pregnant
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and ACOG: Guidelines for Perinatal Care
  • The University of New Mexico Health: What Causes Leg Cramps in Pregnancy?
  • Cleveland Clinic: Should You Take an Epsom Salt Bath?
  • Cleveland Clinic: Sitz BathUnityPoint Health: Do Healthy Bubble Baths Exist: Bath Bombs & Salts
  • National Library of Medicine, StatPearls: Urinary Tract Infection in Pregnancy
  • National Library of Medicine, StatPearls: Vaginal Candidiasis
  • Before-bedtime passive body heating by warm shower or bath to improve sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. August 2019

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.