Cold plunges, also known as cold immersion or cold therapy, involve immersing your body in chilly water for a brief period.
While some people find them invigorating and believe they offer various health benefits, it’s essential to consider the potential risks and how they may apply during pregnancy.
Pregnant women have unique physiological changes and considerations.
Exposing yourself to super cold water for a long period of time can potentially lead to a condition known as hypothermia, which can be very unsafe for you and the little baby.
Also sudden exposure to extreme cold can cause stress to your body and possibly affect blood pressure levels and heart rate, which is also not the best during pregnancy.
Before pregnant women attempt cold plunge, they should discuss with their obstetrician or midwife first. They can provide personalized advice based on their specific health and pregnancy status.
They may also recommend alternatives to cold plunges that are safer and more suitable for you to maintain overall well-being and the health of your baby.
Can you do cold water dips when pregnant?
Cold water dips is also referred to as cold water swimming or cold water immersion and it usually involve briefly submerging yourself in frosty water, typically natural bodies like lakes, rivers or the ocean.
While cold water dips or plunge may have some benefits for non-pregnant women, it’s important to know that it has potential risks and must be avoided when pregnant.
If you’re interested in swimming activities, it is considered safe to rather swim in a properly heated pool where the water temperature is pretty much comfortable and do not pose any risk to your body temperature.
Can babies feel cold water in the womb?
Babies in the womb are sort of insulated and protected by the amniotic fluids that surround them. This fluid helps maintain a stable and warm environment necessary for the baby’s development.
As such, babies do not experience the sensation of temperature the same way we you do.
However, it’s important to understand that while baby may not feel chilly or hot water the same way you do, extreme changes in the mother’s body temperature prior to very cold or very hot water can indirectly affect them.
Sudden temperature changes in mom’s body can trigger some physiological reactions that may have them respond back with kicks and jabs.
Frequent exposures may reduce blood supply to the uterus and limit the delivery of oxygen and nutrients it gets.
In fact, some research even emphasize that cold water might cause the baby have a runny nose or even trigger pneumonia.
Does cold water affect baby in the womb? – The Effects
Yes, exposing a developed foetus to extreme temperatures, whether or hot cold, might have adverse effects on the pregnancy.
Super cold water in particular, may have some risks for the baby in the womb, which includes;
#1 Temperature regulation
Babies in the womb rely so much on mom’s body to regulate their temperature.
Immersing yourself in very cold water can lower your body temperature and if this drop is significant, it may affect the temperature inside the womb and possibly put stress on the baby.
#2 Hypothermia risk
If the mother experiences extreme cold water exposure leading to hypothermia, it could have serious impact on mom and the baby.
Hypothermia can deprive your baby from oxygen and nutrients. This may lead to baby’s heartbeat becoming intermittent and at the extreme, stunt its growth.
#3 Maternal stress
Sudden dip in cold water can induce stress responses in the mom, which will follow by an increased heart rate, blood pressure and other physiological changes.
Chronic or severe maternal stress in pregnancy may as well perhaps impact baby’s development.
#4 Constriction of blood vessels
Cold water can cause blood vessels to shrink, and potentially reduce blood flow to the uterus and placenta.
This can contribute to another reason for a decrease in oxygen and nutrients available to the baby
Can I put a cold compress on pregnant belly?
Yes, you can use an ice pack or cold water compresses on your pregnant belly. The reason for this is that the womb’s wall naturally keeps your baby warm as long as your body temperature stays in the usual range..
Here are some guidelines successfully do this;
- To keep the cold compress from touching your skin directly, just wrap it up in a cloth or towel. This prevents it from being too intense on your skin and provides a barrier. Also, avoid using ice directly on your skin, as this could lead to frostbite.
- Do not leave the compress on your belly for a longer time period. Limit the application to 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Pay attention to how your body responds to the compress. If it feels uncomfortable or too frosty, remove it immediately.
- Maintain a moderate temperature: Make sure the compress is not too cold. It should be cool but not freezing.
- If you have some concerns or if you’re using cold compresses for a specific medical reason, it’s rather best to consult your OB-GYN before doing so.
Can swimming in cold water cause miscarriage?
Swimming in cold water is not associated with causing miscarriages. Miscarriages usually occur due to medical factors like genetics and chromosome being abnormal, hormonal imbalances, excess alcohol or drug use in pregnacy or some other pregnancy complications.
That said swimming in extremely cold water for longer time periods is not advisable during pregnancy basically because it can cause discomfort, hypothermia and increased stress on both the mom and the little one.
It’s so important to prioritize you’re your comfort and safety at this time and avoid some activities like cold plunges that may pose some risks to you.
The safety of cold plunging or icy water immersion during pregnancy hinges on a variety of factors, including individual health, gestational stage, and the specific circumstances surrounding the activity.
While some women may be able to safely engage in brief and controlled cold water dips under medical supervision, it is essential for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider before attempting such activities.
If you’re basically planning to have cold plunge because of a medical condition, or because your pregnant friend recommended, then you should reconsider your decision.
It is crucial to prioritize the well-being and safety of both yourself anddeveloping child. Seeking and heeding the advice of a qualified healthcare provider is the best approach to making informed decisions about engaging in cold water immersion while pregnant.