A quick Google search for Epsom salt, also called magnesium sulfate, will provide you with page after page of reasons you should be using this “miracle” product. And while it isn’t a genuine miracle, it is extremely helpful for many different ailments. But is it safe for pregnant women to use?
Epsom salt baths are safe for pregnant women and can, in fact, provide them with plenty of beneficial effects. Taking regular Epsom salt baths can help relieve stress, soothe aching muscles and stretched skin, relieve pain, and help with pregnancy-related hemorrhoids.
This article will further explore the benefits of using Epsom salt while you’re pregnant. It’ll also highlight any risks associated with using it and cover whether you can use scented Epsom salts as well. Keep reading to find out more.
Are Epsom Salt Baths Safe for Pregnancy?
Taking Epsom salt baths should be entirely safe for pregnant women, as long as they don’t make the water so hot that they overheat, which can damage the fetus. Additionally, pregnant women should have someone to help them in and out of the bathtub to minimize the risk of falling.
Although much of what people – and the internet – say about Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is anecdotal, doctors agree that it’s safe for pregnant women to use in their baths. They also admit that the medical benefits of Epsom salt are real and documented (source: Academia.com).
There’s no limit to how often expectant mothers can take Epsom salt baths, nor is there any “maximum amount” of salt they can use in the water. They should be fine as long as they don’t make the water too hot and are only soaking in the salts and not ingesting them.
*Note: Ingesting magnesium sulfate or getting magnesium sulfate injections may also prove beneficial for some pregnant women in small doses. However, you should never do either of these unless specifically directed to do so by your doctor (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration).
Now that we know it’s safe to use Epsom salt while pregnant let’s examine some of the benefits of doing so.
The Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths When Pregnant
The benefits of taking Epsom salt baths are far and relatively well-known, and not just for pregnant women. Athletes, the elderly, and everyday Joes (and Joannas) often reap the benefits of a long, hot, salty soak. Here are some of the most relevant benefits for expectant mothers:
Epsom Salt Baths Can Help Relieve Stress
Whether this is specific to Epsom salt baths or just long, hot baths, in general, is a matter worthy of some debate – however, whichever the case, there’s no denying that a relaxing soak is an excellent way to help reduce stress.
Additionally, magnesium has been linked to lowered stress levels, and most professionals agree that the science behind using magnesium as a stress reliever is sound.
For example, one article mentions 18 separate studies conducted on patients suffering from numerous conditions, including those explicitly related to anxiety. These conditions included:
- Mild anxiety
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Moderate anxiety
- Postpartum-related anxiety
In all the studies, save those related to postpartum anxiety, elevating the magnesium levels of the participants yielded positive results. No effects, negative or positive, were noticed in those participants suffering from postpartum (source: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute).
Epsom Salt Baths Ease Aching Muscles and Can Help Relieve Pain
The advantages of using Epsom salt to relieve sore muscles, leg cramps, and other pain-related issues are well-documented. That’s why so many coaches – and the famous sportswear brand Nike – encourage athletes to go for regular Epsom salt dips (source: Nike).
Pregnant bodies may not go through the same types of abuse as athletes’ bodies, but there are plenty of changes that happen that can make moms-to-be feel just as sore and achy as the toughest football players.
One common complaint most pregnant women have concerns leg cramps. Epsom salt baths are excellent for that issue. They also help with:
- Migraine headaches
- Sore muscles
- Muscle cramps (other than legs)
- Bronchial asthma
- Foot pain
- Nerve pain
- Soreness, specifically associated with childbirth
- Healing cuts, specifically associated with childbirth (source: Academia.com)
Additionally, hypomagnesemia, a condition that results in a magnesium deficiency in the body, is linked to several non-pregnancy-related conditions, including:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Photosensitive headache
- Cold stress
- Audiogenic stress
Introducing more magnesium into the body, even through baths, can also help with these conditions (source: University of Adelaide Press).
Epsom Salt Baths Can Relieve Irritated and Itchy Skin Associated With Pregnancy
One of the most significant changes a pregnant woman’s body goes through is getting larger to accommodate her growing child. This rapid growth, especially in the stomach/abdomen/breast region, causes the skin in those areas to stretch.
This stretching skin can become itchy, irritated, or even sore. Epsom salt baths can help soothe that irritation and soreness (source: Healthline).
Does an Epsom Salt Bath Help Pregnancy Swelling?
The science surrounding this issue is thin, but a few reputable sites online and plenty of anecdotal evidence suggest this is another potential use for Epsom salt.
Epsom salt baths may help with pregnancy swelling, though scientific evidence is lacking. However, doctors do sometimes prescribe magnesium sulfate for inflammation and itchiness, so it seems as though there may be some truth to the matter. Since Epsom salt is safe to use, it doesn’t hurt to try.
WebMD advises that pregnant women soak their swollen feet in an Epsom salt foot bath to help reduce pain and swelling. Furthermore, USDA studies of magnesium sulfate and livestock indicate that it can help with inflammation and itchiness (sources: WebMD & U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Epsom Salt Baths for Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Hemorrhoids are another common complaint among pregnant women and women who’ve recently given birth. They tend to occur because of the pregnancy hormones and more powerful abdominal pressure from the growing fetus.
Estimates are that at least a fourth or more of all expectant mothers suffer from hemorrhoids. Certain populations of women are affected in percentages as high as 85% during the final trimester (source: Canadian Family Physician).
Epsom salts can also be an effective treatment for hemorrhoids. As they do for other areas of the body, they reduce itchiness, inflammation, pain, and maybe even swelling around your abdomen.
If you have vaginal, perineal, or other tears after giving birth, Epsom salt baths may help with those, too (source: Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates).
The Risks of Epsom Salt Baths While Pregnant
There are very few risks associated with using Epsom salt baths when you’re pregnant – in fact, there are only two, and neither of them has anything to do with the salts themselves.
The Risk of Overheating
The biggest, riskiest danger associated with soaking in a hot Epsom salt bath is overheating. Some women don’t like to soak in a tub unless the water is almost hot tub-level hot.
Overheating is dangerous for both you and your growing baby, and if you tend to fall asleep in the bathtub, this could be a real possibility. Just be sure you keep the water cool, lukewarm, or warm – not hot – and you should be able to manage this danger just fine.
The Risk of Falling
Again, this has nothing to do with the Epsom salts themselves, but it is a potential hazard of climbing into and out of the bathtub.
Whenever you get ready to soak, make sure you have someone nearby to help you in and out of the tub or at least be there in case of an emergency.
Are Scented Epsom Salts Pregnancy Safe?
Some Epsom salt brands, such as Dr Teals Lavender Epsom Salt from Amazon.com, enhance their products with essential oils to make them even more relaxing and soothing. Dr Teals, for example, uses lavender oil, and the delicate scent can help balance, center, and relax those who smell it.
Scented Epsom salt baths are generally okay for pregnant women as long as they use essential oils deemed safe by doctors and other healthcare professionals. However, as with most things, you should consult your doctor before using any essential oils or medicinal products, even home remedies.
Some of the most common scented Epsom salts include the following:
Most of these are acceptable for use by pregnant women with normal, healthy pregnancies. The York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals even use some of these essential oils with their patients.
That said, I once again suggest talking to your doctor first – no online information, no matter how sound, is ever an adequate substitute for advice from a genuine, in-person medical professional (source: U.K. National Health Service).
Hopefully, this article has put your mind at ease concerning Epsom salt baths. Now go on and enjoy your relaxing, much-deserved soak!