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Using a Heating Pad While Pregnant: Is it Safe?

Can you use a heating pad while pregnant? This is a commonly asked pregnancy question, and a very good one. Heating pads can be effective in relieving sore muscles, aches and pains. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that you have lots of physical discomforts during pregnancy.

Naturally, many pregnant women are worried about heating pads, because experts have advised them to avoid saunas and hot tubs in pregnancy, due to the risk of raising their core body temperature.

In the first trimester, anything that raises your body temperature to over 102 degrees Fahrenheit can increase the risk for miscarriage and neural tube defects, like Spina Bifida. Hot tubs and saunas can easily increase your body temperature, but heating pads don’t pose the same risk.

heating pad while pregnant

Heating Pads are Safe in Pregnancy

Most obstetricians and midwives will tell you that heating pads in pregnancy are perfectly safe. Heating pads do not raise your overall blood temperature.

Keep in mind that many of the heating pads on the market only have temperatures as high as 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. So, using them for a short period of time – under 20 minutes maximum – will not raise your body temperature. Plus, heating pads are applied to a specific area of your body. You are not immersing yourself in heat, like you are in a hot tub.

To be on the safe side, while pregnant, you should only use a heating pad for 10 to 20 minutes maximum. Use low to moderate heat on whatever area of your body is feeling sore.

Although heating pads are safe, if you are still worried, don’t hesitate to contact your OB/GYN or midwife’s office to ask their advice.

Alternatives to Using Heating Pads While Pregnant

Besides heating pads, you can also get natural pain relief for your pregnancy-related aches and pains in other ways.

  • Warm baths – Taking a warm bath can be very relaxing, and it may help give you some relief from your aches and pains.
  • Hot Water Bottle – If you are having backache or normal pregnancy achiness, sometimes using a hot water bottle can offer you relief. Hot water bottles aren’t big enough to raise your body temperature to an unsafe level, so they are perfectly safe in pregnancy.
  • Prenatal Massage – Getting a massage during pregnancy has many benefits. Prenatal massage can definitely help alleviate any aches and discomforts you may have. It can also help improve your mood, and even decrease stress hormones in moms-to-be.
  • Maternity Support Belts – If backaches are causing you problems, you might want to buy a maternity support belt to take some of the pressure off your back.
  • Ice Pack or Cold Compresses – Beside heat, cold packs can also help relieve pain and discomfort in pregnancy. If you don’t want to spend any extra money, use a bag of frozen veggies and apply it to the sore area.

When you’ve exhausted all your natural options, and you are feeling uncomfortable, you can safely take Tylenol (acetaminophen) to relieve your aches and pains. Acetaminophen is the safest pain reliever in pregnancy, and has been recommended by obstetricians for years. The FDA classifies acetaminophen as a category B drug.

Do not take any other over-the-counter painkiller, like Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), or aspirin in pregnancy. These should be avoided due to the potential side effects.

Contact your doctor if you have any questions over what pain reliever is safe for your individual situation.

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Lisa Dietrich August 4, 2017, 10:05 am

    Very nice and informative article Nguyen.

    Heating pad could be used at that stage for a limited period of time at low temperature.

  • Lianne May 6, 2012, 10:17 am

    The most effective pain reliever for my mother, though, is the use of heat therapy, specifically the use of heating pads. My mother had chronic lower back pain when she was pregnant with my little brother and the only solution that was okay for her was the use of heating pads.

    The brand that she loved was Helios Heater Lower Back Pads (http://www.heliosheater.com/) because they can be used over and over again without the hassle! She was also able to apply it even without holding it because it has a fitted pouch which wraps around her body.

    I’m so thankful for this heating pad. I hope that you guys can also be successful in your journey to combating pain!

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