Bath temperature during labor? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-12-2008, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How hot is too hot?

At our last class my midwife told us to take hot baths - as hot as we could handle - at home for pre/early labor.

I loooove super hot baths but thought we were supposed to avoid them as well as hot tubs, saunas (anything that could raise your core temperature) during pregnancy, so this really surprised me.

Was I wrong that hot baths aren't good for pregnancy, or why do the rules change just because you're in labor? Does it really not bother the babe? What is your experience with this and what are your thoughts?
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Old 02-12-2008, 11:43 AM
 
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I was told by a Dr. that hot baths were fine because you would have to be in there for a long long time before it would raise your core temp. He said that our bodies do a really good job regulating internal temp and a hot bath wouldn't make much of a difference. I didn't think to ask why they say in most books not to take hot baths.... kind of contradictory, huh?
I did take hot showers with DS and all is fine with him so I have not thought twice about it with this LO.

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Old 02-12-2008, 12:21 PM
 
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Hmmm, last night my doula said just the opposite. She said that women usually prefer to take luke warm baths or room temperature baths while in labor. She said the relief from the water is from the bouyancy (sp?), not from the temp.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by milky_mama View Post
Hmmm, last night my doula said just the opposite. She said that women usually prefer to take luke warm baths or room temperature baths while in labor. She said the relief from the water is from the bouyancy (sp?), not from the temp.
I think that this would be highly subjective. Hot baths are very comforting to me, they may not be for you. True, buoyancy takes the pressure off the contractions, but the temperature of the water defnitely plays into my level of comfort. Of course, that's just my opinion!

I have always been under the impression that hot baths are okay during pregnancy because the water temperature isn't stable, it's constantly dropping. Also, studies have shown that most people will remove themselves from the water before their core temp rises.

I'm interested in what others have to say!
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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I thought that the concern with hot tubs was that the hot water sitting for a long time with lots of people in and out of them meant lots of time for bacteria to grow which was dangerous.

As for hot baths... HMMMMM I like hot water! It feels nice and relieves aches and pains. Our bathtub is WEE though so I don't really fit well into it anymore. Such is life... I'll fit soon.

I'm looking forward to hot water during labour. I cannot imagine being comfortable in lukewarm water during labour. If I have sore muscles, I want hot water. It's just soothing. But hey, maybe I'll change my mind when I get there...
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:12 PM
 
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OK. I also prefer hot baths over luke warm baths too so I was kind of puzzled when she said that. I think you're right Jes'sBeth and healthnutmama and it just depends on the situation and person. Thanks for clarifying I love hot baths and was looking forward to them in labor!
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:16 PM
 
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I have not worried about my bath water with this pg. 1st of all I'm not sure anyone knows for sure about it (lots of contradictions out there) & second since I don't have a jacuzzi tub the vast majority of my belly is FAR above the water. I also have a very slow leak in my tub so I can't necessarily soak in it long as it is constantly depleating. I think actually the moral of this post is MY BATHROOM SUCKS!

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Old 02-12-2008, 01:28 PM
 
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When I had my water birth with DS at a birth center, the nurse ran the water hot and I couldn't handle it. My body was working so hard that I was creating a lot of body heat and the hot water was just too much. I remember standing in the tub saying very weakly, "it's too hot..." They fanned me and ran cold water until it felt good to me. Interestingly, an hour later when DS was born and my body had finally relaxed, the water was too cold and I wanted to get out and curl up in bed with my new baby where it was warm.
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Old 02-12-2008, 02:01 PM
 
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i've never really worried about taking a hot bath throughout this pregnancy. it soothes my achy hips & back, helps me fall asleep, & makes me a MUCH happier mama!
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Old 02-12-2008, 02:10 PM
 
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The "no hot tubs" thing applies to your first trimester, anyway. If you can handle the heat, then your soon-to-be newborn can too. I like super-hot baths and had one in labor last time--the nurse felt the water and said "I guess I'll wait to take your temperature!" The heat really does help, at least for me.

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Old 02-12-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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The thing about hot baths and pregnancy - you are supposed to avoid raising your core body temp above a certain temp in the first trimester when baby's major systems are still forming. The other concern is that a loooong soak in a really hot tub (especially one that maintains the same temperature, instead of cooling off like your home bathtub) could leave you feeling a little faint, so it's not something you should take on when you're by yourself.
I loved being in the jacuzzi tub when I was in labor, and I loved it HOT! I did get really warm after a while and needed to get out for a bit. The buoyancy helps, but the heat is really relaxing, too.
I think the answer here is, whatever feels good to you!
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Old 02-12-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by milky_mama View Post
Hmmm, last night my doula said just the opposite. She said that women usually prefer to take luke warm baths or room temperature baths while in labor. She said the relief from the water is from the bouyancy (sp?), not from the temp.
I disagree. The heat provides a lot of relief in labor IMO.

For my waterbirths, the water temp was maintained at 95-100 degrees. It was perfect for me ... I hate lukewarm, but too hot makes me woozy.

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Old 02-12-2008, 07:06 PM
 
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But if the water is too hot (your skin looks red as soon as you get in), it will raise baby's heartrate. Hot water is one thing, scalding is another and I think it can be difficult for women in labor to determine a "safe temp" because their body temps fluctuate so much in labor (I'm hot, no I'm cold, etc.).

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Old 02-12-2008, 11:09 PM
 
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I hang out in our hot tub all the time--my mw encourages it. You do have to be in it for quite awhile for your core temp to rise significantly. I'll often sit on the side to cool off a bit but I usually know when it's time to dry off.

As far as labor is concerned, I think you're fine with whatever feels good to you. I was told that if you're birthing in h20, you should get the temp. close to body temp. when it's time to push the baby out--then it's not a shock to their system.
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Old 02-13-2008, 12:38 AM
 
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easy solution is to get a floaty thermometer from the baby section. I personally am only coping with my contractions by taking hot baths. My belly is almost always out of the water, and I'm careful about not getting it so hot that I start to get flushed in the face. I think it's all about moderation. Water tends to cool pretty quickly with a body in it so as long as you don't soak in scalding water you should be fine (at least my m/w says so.)

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Old 02-17-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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Fun thread!

1. The books say "no hot baths" because of a risk of birth defects from elevated body temp during the first trimester -- but it's a bit of an urban legend, really, because you have to elevate your core body temp and *keep it elevated* -- and nobody ever does that on purpose -- it can pretty much only happen when you have a fever (from illness) that you can't reduce. I think you have to have it for 24 hours+. Anyone with a choice will immediately and reflexively get out of the water when the core body temp starts going up -- it just feels yucky.

2. If I read it right, the OP's midwife suggested really warm baths specifically for *stopping preterm labor*. I don't think the OP was suggesting that every laboring mom would want to labor in water as hot as she can stand it.

3. ITA, the buoyancy is good, and I've read a lot of water birth stories where mom said "The water was lukewarm, but I didn't care, it felt so good." On the other hand, I personally like it warm when I birth. And I've also read and heard a lot of water birth stories where the midwife made the water much warmer than the mother wanted -- and then argued with the mom that that was what was good for the baby. Hmmmph. I don't think so. I think the MOTHER is the best judge of the right water temp. I think this is like a 100 other things in birth -- it varies from woman to woman , and even from one of her births to another of her births.

4. The idea that the water should be close to body temp water so it doesn't shock the baby...

Babies born into the air (probably most births in human history) are NOT born into body temperature air. I have read that it is (in part) the temperature DIFFERENCE between the womb and the world that stimulates the baby to breathe. This idea seems supported by a common thread I find in the waterbirth literature -- the idea that when a baby is born into body temp water, he will probably not breathe immediately. So, if you'd like body temp water, be prepared to NOT PANIC so long as the cord is still pulsing. It may take baby a few minutes to decide that breathing is a good idea. My 3rd did this (and I *DID* panic!!), and I've since then seen it on a bunch of water birth videos. This recent UC is a good example of what I am describing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPNKgBjqpts

For my upcoming birth, I'm torn as to the water temp at birth - -I was so startled by the relaxed floppy baby with birth #3, that for #4 I may have to make the water a little colder, or pull her completely out of the water into the air, so that I can get a good response from baby without panicking. Or, I may remain calm like the mom in the video above. I dunno.

5. All of the above is sounding kind of know-it-all ish, but can you just take it for my opinion, and love me anyway?
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Old 02-17-2008, 07:19 PM
 
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hmmm... interesting... our daughter was born at home in the water (which was pretty warm) and definately did not take that long to start breathing well on her own. She was moving and responsive from pretty much the beginning though she wasn't really loud, just very much aware and with it.

I imagine that some kids are born like that regardless of whether they're born in the water or not.
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