Can I Use a Hot Water Bottle During Pregnancy? Is It Safe?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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No matter how much many women love being pregnant, there will always be some things about it that no one enjoys – namely the aches, pains, and cramping.

One of the most commonly cited home remedies for muscle cramps and aches is to press a hot water bottle against your aching muscles, and there’s a science to back up its efficacy (source: The Guardian). However, is doing so actually safe for you and your developing baby?

You can use a hot water bottle during pregnancy if you follow some simple precautions. You should not press it too roughly against your stomach or leave it against your skin so long that it raises your core body temperature. Make sure you don’t get the water too hot, either.

This article will go more in-depth into the use of hot water bottles while pregnant. It will also briefly touch on heating pads and explain the difference between them and why one is safe in certain areas while the other isn’t.

Finally, we’ll break down the use of hot water bottles into early and late pregnancy, too.

Is It Safe to Use a Hot Water Bottle When Pregnant?

It’s safe to use a hot water bottle when pregnant, much safer than using a heating pad. Hot water bottles are small and don’t have the surface area to raise your core body temperature. Additionally, they aren’t electric and can’t maintain heat long enough to cause harm.

pregnant woman holds hot water bottle against her back

You can actually use heating pads on areas like your neck, back, shoulders, and feet while pregnant, as long as you keep it on the lowest setting and don’t stay on it for more than 20 minutes (source: Medical News Today). 

However, you should avoid using use a heating pad on your abdomen when pregnant.

Furthermore, using an electric heating pad comes with more risks than using a hot water bottle. For one thing, the temperatures get much hotter on a heating pad, and if you were to fall asleep on it accidentally, it would just keep heating because it’s electric. 

On the other hand, hot water bottles are small and not likely to get hot enough to raise your body temperature. Plus, they start cooling down the moment you begin using them, so even if you fell asleep, the water would eventually cool off on its own. 

Now, let’s look at using a hot water bottle on specific areas of the body and see which ones are safe: 

  • Using a hot water bottle directly on the stomach for pregnancy-related cramping: As long as your water isn’t too hot and you don’t put pressure on the bottle, it’s okay to rest it gently against your stomach to relieve cramping.

    In fact, some hospitals actually recommend placing a hot water bottle on your lower abdomen to help with pregnancy cramping, even right before labor (source: University of Rochester Medical Center). 

  • Using a hot water bottle on the feet: Absolutely, and you can put all the pressure you want on your feet. You can even get a small, rounded bottle like the Fythao Store Hot Water Bottle from Amazon to place beneath your feet and roll it back and forth, pressing down as you do. Just be sure you’re sitting somewhere safely and securely so that you don’t fall or slide yourself out of your chair.
     
  • Using a hot water bottle for pregnancy-related back pain: Again, this is perfectly safe. Just don’t get the water too hot, and don’t leave it on so long that it raises your core temperature (which is very unlikely since the bottle is so small). 

Again, you always want to err on the side of caution and not leave the hot water bottle on your skin for too long, especially against your stomach. You’re probably safe at 15 minutes, but you won’t want to push it much further than that.

On other areas of your body – back, feet, neck, shoulders, etc. – you can leave it longer, but again, exercise caution. Don’t leave it on so long that it irritates your skin. 

Additionally, be sure you don’t get the water too hot. Warm water is the best option. As the National Health Services website puts it: “A little tip is, just think to yourself ‘would I give this to a child? ’ …so it’s just a warm heat so it’s safe for you in pregnancy” (source: National Health Services UK). 

Purchasing a hot water bottle with a cloth cover around it can help minimize the risk of burns and skin irritation, as well. 

woman using hot water bottle to relieve neck pain

Can I Use a Hot Water Bottle in Early or Late Pregnancy?

You can use a hot water bottle in early or late pregnancy as long as you adhere to common-sense safety guidelines like not making the water too hot, not leaving it against your body for too long, and keeping it safely capped and covered so that it doesn’t burn you.  

If you’re experiencing muscle cramps or just general aches and sharp pains during pregnancy, using a hot water bottle to help relieve the tension in your sore muscles and joints can be a great idea. Just be smart about it, not letting the water get too hot or leaving the bottle against your skin for too long. 

If aching muscles is something you’re experiencing a lot, you may have also considered using Deep Heat or similar products- but here’s what you need to consider about Deep Heat when pregnant, too.