Heating Pads and Pregnancy

Is it safe to use a heating pad during pregnancy?

Heating pads are generally safe to use during pregnancy, as long as you aren’t placing the heating pad directly on your belly.  Using a heating pad for sore muscles or an occasional back ache is fine.  The concern with pregnant women and heat is that having a high body temperature can be harmful to your developing baby.  Women are advised not to take very hot baths or soak in a hot tub because of the potential for birth defects, miscarriage, or other pregnancy complications. 

Heating pad use during pregnancy

According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women should try to keep their core body temperature below 102.2°, never allowing it to get above this temperature for longer than ten minutes.   A heating pad that is applied to a local area of your body should not cause your overall body temperature to rise.  Placing a heating pad directly on your abdomen, though, could be dangerous.  A heating pad applied to a woman’s abdomen might not cause her overall core body temperature to go up, but it could be as dangerous as soaking in a hot tub and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Alternatives to heating pad use during pregnancy

If you are having problems with muscle aches and pains during pregnancy and you want to avoid using a heating pad, here are some things you can try:

  • For back pain:  Try using a maternity belt or back support.  You can also soak in a warm (not hot) bath, get a massage from your partner, or use a body pillow when you sleep.  Try to avoid standing or sitting for extended periods of time.  It is better, if you can, to rotate between sitting and standing.
  • For leg cramps and aches:  Stretching is great for helping relieving leg cramps.  You can use a towel to stretch the muscles or get your partner to help gently stretch your legs.  Massaging the muscles can also be helpful.
  • Other aches and pains:  Ice is another alternative to heat.  It can work better for relieving pain than heat, especially if the pain is due to injury.  A mild pain reliever like Tylenol might be helpful as well.  If you are having severe aches that are not relieved by Tylenol and rest, you should talk to your doctor.

Abdominal pain during pregnancy

Abdominal pain should not be treated with heat.  If you are having abdominal pain, you should talk to your doctor.   Abdominal pain could be the result of complications such as placental problems, uterine rupture, or the start of labor.

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