Can You Use a Heating Pad During Pregnancy?

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By Dr. Lisa Smiley | Updated on Dec 8, 2023
Image for article Can You Use a Heating Pad During Pregnancy?

Heating pads are safe to use during pregnancy with proper precautions.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, heating pads can be used to help reduce low back pain during pregnancy, but they should be used at the lowest possible setting 1 and wrapped in a towel to prevent burns.

Using heat on the body helps to improve circulation, relax the muscles, and reduce pain and stiffness 2 . Although pregnant people are generally advised to avoid heat exposure due to the risk of fetal abnormalities and pregnancy complications, heating pads on an isolated area are unlikely to raise your core body temperature 3 to that associated with neural tube defects (>39 degrees Celsius, 102 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Taking a warm bath or shower can also be helpful in relieving pain. Newer research 4 suggests that pregnant people may be able to sit in a hot bath or sauna for up to 20 minutes without their core body temperature reaching dangerous thresholds, but any use of heat in pregnancy should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to use.

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

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Expectful uses only high-quality sources, including academic research institutions, medical associations, and subject matter experts.

  1. American Pregnancy Association"Back Pain During Pregnancy"https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/back-pain-during-pregnancy/.

  2. "Thermotherapy for knee osteoarthritis"Medicine, vol. 100, no. 19May 14, 2021https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8133294/.

  3. Kazuyuki Kominami, Kazunari Sato & Naoaki Takahashi "Relationship between body composition indices and changes in body temperature due to hot pack use"Nov 11, 2022https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40101-022-00313-0.

  4. Nicholas Ravanelli, William Casasola, Timothy English, Kate M Edwards, Ollie Jay"Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis"BMJ Journals, vol. 53, no. 13Mar 1, 2018, pp. 799-805https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29496695/.


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Updated on Dec 8, 2023

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Can You Use a Heating Pad During Pregnancy?

 Lisa Smiley Profile Photo
By Dr. Lisa Smiley | Updated on Dec 8, 2023
Image for article Can You Use a Heating Pad During Pregnancy?

Heating pads are safe to use during pregnancy with proper precautions.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, heating pads can be used to help reduce low back pain during pregnancy, but they should be used at the lowest possible setting 1 and wrapped in a towel to prevent burns.

Using heat on the body helps to improve circulation, relax the muscles, and reduce pain and stiffness 2 . Although pregnant people are generally advised to avoid heat exposure due to the risk of fetal abnormalities and pregnancy complications, heating pads on an isolated area are unlikely to raise your core body temperature 3 to that associated with neural tube defects (>39 degrees Celsius, 102 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Taking a warm bath or shower can also be helpful in relieving pain. Newer research 4 suggests that pregnant people may be able to sit in a hot bath or sauna for up to 20 minutes without their core body temperature reaching dangerous thresholds, but any use of heat in pregnancy should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to use.

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

Want evidence-based health & wellness advice for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum delivered to your inbox?

Your privacy is important to us. By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

Expectful uses only high-quality sources, including academic research institutions, medical associations, and subject matter experts.

  1. American Pregnancy Association"Back Pain During Pregnancy"https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/back-pain-during-pregnancy/.

  2. "Thermotherapy for knee osteoarthritis"Medicine, vol. 100, no. 19May 14, 2021https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8133294/.

  3. Kazuyuki Kominami, Kazunari Sato & Naoaki Takahashi "Relationship between body composition indices and changes in body temperature due to hot pack use"Nov 11, 2022https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40101-022-00313-0.

  4. Nicholas Ravanelli, William Casasola, Timothy English, Kate M Edwards, Ollie Jay"Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis"BMJ Journals, vol. 53, no. 13Mar 1, 2018, pp. 799-805https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29496695/.


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