Can You Use a Heating Pad While Pregnant?

Can You Use a Heating Pad While Pregnant?

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You’ve just begun enjoying all the little joys of pregnancy your baby is healthy and your OB says that your pregnancy is coming along nicely.

That’s the good news, but there is some discomfort that comes along with the positives of pregnancy too. Aches, pain, and swelling are a few of the ailments that you learn to cope with throughout pregnancy.

You might experience back, abdominal, or even pain in random places like your neck or head at any point during pregnancy.

Although, if the pain is persistent or abnormally difficult to deal with you will need to see your care provider and determine if you need assistance relieving it.

That said, heating pads can be incredibly beneficial during pregnancy at a variety of stages and for numerous reasons. There is no one way to use a heating pad better than another way.

Let’s dive right into the safety and protocols of using a heating pad during pregnancy.

Table of Contents

Is a heating pad safe to use during pregnancy?

Yes, heating pads are safe to use during pregnancy – though you need to be sure that you don’t allow it to reach too hot of temperature directly on your womb.

Heating pads do reach high enough temperatures that could potentially cause harm to your unborn baby if they are not used with the utmost care.

You don’t want to leave a heating pad at maximum heat laying directly on your womb. Temperatures above 102 degrees can cause harm to unborn fetuses or even birth defects if a pregnant woman’s body reaches these high temperatures often.

Don’t ever leave a heating pad on your body overnight if you’re pregnant

Heating pads are incredibly relaxing when used, they can make someone who is not even pregnant want to fall asleep during use – don’t let this happen to you during pregnancy.

Falling asleep with a heating pad on during pregnancy can lead to extended periods of high heat exposure to your womb.

At the most, you should only use a heating pad long enough to provide temporary relief to your body during pregnancy. This makes for the best practice to avoid undesirable effects from using a heating pad during pregnancy.

If you have to, ask your partner or a caregiver to watch over you when using a heating pad. Ask that they turn it off or remove it if you end up falling asleep with it on your body.

How hot do heating pads get at the maximum temperatures?

Heating pads can vary in temperatures between 110 degrees Fahrenheit up to a maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and even though this is quite high, these temperatures usually don’t raise a pregnant woman’s body temperature as a whole.

Certain heating pads reach different overall temperatures, so depending on which kind you’re using and the setting you have it on will determine how high the heat reaches while you use it.

Using an extra layer of cloth will help disburse the heat before it reaches your skin as well.

Types of heating pads available to use during pregnancy

You have options when it comes to using a heating pad, there are numerous styles that are made with entirely different heating components – check out each one of the styles and choose which one you feel is best for you during pregnancy.

Microwaveable heating pads can be made right at home

One way to have access to a microwaveable heating pad is to make it at home with a few materials you probably already have on hand. How to make a rice or grain heating pad at home is as follows:

Making a rice sock bag at home to heat is simple

To make a small heating pad made from a clean sock you need the following ingredients;

  • A clean sock that’s made from cotton
  • One cup of white rice
  • A pair of scissors
  • Hemp string, yarn, or ribbon

Step 1: Simply fill the sock with one cup of long-grain(not instant) rice that has not been cooked.

Step 2: Tie it off with an adequate piece of ribbon or string – tie the string tightly that way the string won’t unravel with time – if your sock has enough extra slack you can tie it off with the sock itself. Be sure the rice will not spill out over time.

Step 3: Usually, 45 seconds to 1 minute of time is enough to heat up your sock accordingly though the time to achieve the desired temperature can vary.

On the other hand, you can use the rice-filled sock for a cooling pad by putting it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Test the heat of the sock before placing it on the spot you intend to use it and keep

Microwaveable heating pads can also be bought in the store

For a bigger and more uniform rice heating bag, you can purchase one at your local store as well. Microwaveable heating pads come in a variety of sizes and styles.

You can find them shaped perfectly to fit around your neck, lower back in sizes from small to large.

The neat part about store-bought rice bags is that they are usually wrapped in a fuzzy or warming material which is very comforting and soothing, usually made from flannel. They also tend to hold heat a little better than a smaller scale rice sock.

To use a store-bought rice bag place it in the microwave for around 2-3 minutes. To test a rice bag microwave it for 1 minute, to begin with, and then move upward depending on desired heat.

Chemical heating pads work by activating what is called crystallized sodium acetate

Instantaneous heat happens in chemical heating pads when a piece of metal is pressed within a substance called sodium acetate – the chemical process of the natural crystallization results in instant heat.

This type of heating pad is nice when you want a heating pad you can reuse over the years. It’s simple to work with – all that you have to do is press the piece of metal in the pad then boil it back to a liquid once it cools in order to prepare it for another use.

You can go old school and use a hot water bottle as a heating pad during pregnancy

Long before any electric or chemical reaction-based heating pad hit the market, families opted for the hot water bottle method. This is when you take a premade rubber hot water bottle (more of a bag) and fill it with clean water that has been pre-heated on the stove.

Hot water bags are good for reducing if not ‘shutting off the body’s pain response internally. There are old wives tales about how effective hot water is at completely diminishing any pain within the entire body by placing hot water on the stomach.

You can grab an old t-shirt or another piece of cloth to make a hot water bottle cover, that way your skin doesn’t get burned. Never place a hot water bag directly on the area that your womb sits within.

Electric heating pads are the most popular heating pad to have on hand

Heating pads that plug into the wall are undoubtedly popular amongst moms to be, they are easy to use while staying at a desirable temperature as long as needed.

The only downfall an electric heating pad has to it is that it does not have a timer to shut off.

If you fall asleep with an electric heating pad on you, it’s likely you’ll wake up too hot from it at some point. Furthermore, keeping a hot heating pad on your body for long periods of time gives a greater risk of raising your core body temperature during pregnancy.

Safety tips and concerns for electric heating pads during pregnancy

Using a heating pad during pregnancy is perfectly fine to do, yet, you still need to be aware of the safety tips that come along with using a heating pad as you grow your unborn baby.

Below are the top tips for keeping you and your baby safe when using an electric heating pad specifically because this heating pad stays hot for an extended time. Unless you unplug it, we will be discussing how to stay safe using an electric heating pad.

A heating pad should not raise the overall temperature of your body during pregnancy

It is well known in the health community that pregnant women should avoid allowing their body temperature to rise higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit as temps this high can cause brain damage and health defects to an unborn fetus.

It is very important to keep a pregnant lady’s body temperature in a normal range, as close to 98.6 F as much as possible.

And if a pregnant mother’s temperature does rise due to illness or virus naturally she is to keep an eye on it and bring it down as necessary or seek medical treatment.

This is why pregnant women are advised to stay out of hot tubs and saunas, and especially to avoid going in them for extended periods of time. A heating pad should not make body temperature rise with infrequent usage – for short time frames.

That said, pregnant women should never use a heating pad underneath a warm blanket or for extended periods of time, per se, overnight or more than half an hour in one sitting.

A good rule of thumb is to use a heating pad for 10-minute intervals as needed for pain over a day or so.

Don’t use heating pads every day if possible and certainly utilize other methods of pain relief during pregnancy along with a heating pad.

Additional methods for pain relief during pregnancy

There are plenty of non-invasive methods for pain relief during pregnancy that can help your body tremendously if you’re experiencing pain, swelling, and body aches.

Specialists recommend that during pregnancy there should be a few alternative treatments for pain relief to be used alongside a heating pad for optimal preventative pain relief.

A few of the most gentle and easy-to-perform methods to use during pregnancy we will discuss below. These movements and methods of pain relief can be beneficial to everyone who is pregnant, regardless of which stage in the pregnancy they are at.

African american pregnant woman practicing yoga on mat

Yoga and gentle stretching for pain relief during pregnancy is great for pain relief

Thankfully, you can find yoga for all things pregnancy online, follow a great yoga instructor online for free today! I promise it will help with all those aches and pains during your pregnancy, it gets your blood flowing and keeps your joints and ligaments well tended to.

When doing yoga be sure to listen to your body, if it says don’t push me this way or pull that too much – than don’t. Though, gentle stretching when your body is aching can prove to be highly beneficial for your system.

Chiropractic care for body aches during pregnancy

You can utilize your team of nearby chiropractors during your pregnancy, which feels amazing btw! Aim to get routine chiropractic care throughout your entire pregnancy – it can help quite a bit in the days leading up to the delivery of your baby too.

A visit to the chiropractor can help manage pain in the most important places of your body; back, hips, and all of your joints. The areas that chiropractic care assists with are the places that really take a hit during pregnancy.

Overall chiropractic care should be used in addition to heating pads during pregnancy – this will be the most effective way to help provide as much space for your baby in your body and pain relief.

Acupuncture is an amazing and gentle way to relieve pain during pregnancy

Roughly three-quarters of all pregnant women will experience lower back pain throughout and after their pregnancy according to WebMD, this is something that acupuncture can greatly reduce.

During pregnancy, the aches and pains seemingly never end for most of us, and acupuncture is something that can truly help with this.

Pregnancy should be a time of enjoyment and relaxation as often as possible – but that isn’t always the case with lower back pain plaguing your experience. Acupuncture and heating pad therapy combined can help reduce this back pain on a continual basis.

Acupuncture works by stimulating corresponding nerve endings in the body to release chemicals and bring blood flow to the area that is suffering pain. The lower back could use a little extra love during pregnancy.

Pregnant women found it most effective to combine; acupuncture, daily heating pads, and adjusting their posture in a constructive manner to significantly reduce lower back pain consistently.

Safety guidelines for using heat to relieve aches and pains during pregnancy

To use a heating pad properly during pregnancy to reduce body aches and pain, use a heating pad in 10-minute increments – 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, and so forth – never use a heating pad longer than a full 20 minutes.

Do not sit neat a pool, a tub of water, or a baby bath with a heating pad

Never sit next to a tub of water or a pool with an electric heating pad plugged in as this can cause electrocution. Follow the instructions to the specific brand of heating pad you have, after your baby has been born never cuddle with your baby under a heating pad.

Can I put a heating pad directly onto my belly during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you can put a heating pad on a pregnant belly as long as the temperature is set below 100 degrees Fahrenheit and you have a blanket or protective barrier between the heating pad and your belly.

It’s best to avoid putting a heating pad on your pregnant belly if possible, as this is the best practice.

If you ever feel that there is pain from the heat of the pad on your belly or skin anywhere, discontinue use immediately. If it’s hard to gauge how hot the heating pad you have is, do not place it on your belly.

Before you ever put a heating pad right on your belly, try placing it on the surrounding areas to see if it helps before considering placing it directly onto your belly.

If you already have a temperature do not use a heating pad during pregnancy

If your core body temperature is already higher than your normal temperature range(due to illness or otherwise) do not use a heating pad at all. Doing so will encourage your temperature to rise instead of lower, you and your baby could become too hot.

Don’t set the temperature of the heating pad to the highest setting ever

Even if you do not feel that the temperature of the hearting pad is high enough, avoid turning the heat setting all the way too high – this high setting can cause your temperature to rise.

Heating pads can reach a maximum temperature of around 135 degrees Fahrenheit at the highest heat setting which can be dangerous during pregnancy.

If the back pain you experience is persistent or gets much worse contact your medical provider

Especially in late pregnancy women can develop conditions or even real labor that brings about intense low back pain. It’s important to pay attention to how long you have had back pain, and if it’s getting worse or better with treatment over time.

If your back pain is persistent or does not feel relieved with various methods of pain management it’s time to contact your Obstetrician for a visit.

A professional healthcare provider who specializes in pregnancy can determine if anything else is going on that requires immediate attention.

Ensure that you don’t fall asleep with a heating pad turned on

Falling asleep with a heating pad on your body during pregnancy can lead to health complications if your body heats up too much.

If you know that you are too tired to remain awake during the time that you plan on using a heating pad, plan to use it after you take a nap or the following morning.

Heating pads are great to use while you watch your favorite show or have your partner rub your feet.

How hot does a heating pad get

A heating pad can reach pretty high temperatures, some will get hotter than a sauna at maximum temperatures.

Most heating pads have at least 3 temperature settings to choose from, and in my experience, the first temperature setting can be sufficient during pregnancy and postpartum stages.

On the lowest setting, a heating pad usually heats up to 110 degrees F, the medium setting it may get to 125 degrees F, and the highest setting tops somewhere around 138 degrees F. The lowest setting is sufficient for use during pregnancy.

Some heating pads will get up to 160 degrees which are far too hot of a setting during pregnancy – the sunbeam and other highly-efficient heating pads should be used with the utmost care during pregnancy.

A heating pad works by utilizing heat to relieve sore muscles

Using a form of therapy called thermo-therapy, heating pads relieve sore muscles, joints, and soft tissue during pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be a time when your muscles ache and your joints are stretched to their maximum capacity carrying the extra weight from your baby and the placenta.

Some women begin feeling sore even during the first trimester – working up to being increasingly sore at the end of pregnancy.

It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to at least have swollen ankles that hurt to walk on at the end of the day. A heating pad wrapped around the ankles can greatly soothe this discomfort.

A heating pad works by invoking a sense of relief to the body when it is overwhelmed and overworked – it takes the edge off by reminding women who are carrying babies that the pain and discomfort are only temporary.

I believe that every pregnant woman can benefit from Epsom salt baths with essential oils and a heating pad in times of discomfort.

After having 5 babies 3 of which were home birth, when my midwives brought me a heating pad it was a saving grace, not only during pregnancy but during the postpartum stage as well.

Heating pad during the first trimester of pregnancy

It may come as a surprise to many women, but something that we must protect ourselves with during pregnancy is the EMF radiation waves that are emitted from heating pads.

When you’re not pregnant this isn’t going to be as high of a concern – during pregnancy, you and your baby are highly susceptible to radiation and should avoid it as much as possible.

Things that emit radiation that may be in your household include; hairdryers, microwave ovens, drying machines, phones and tablets, and even refrigerators.

All of these household items should be used with caution and as minimally as possible during pregnancy.

Heating pads emit large amounts of radiation which should be approached with caution during pregnancy. Therefore, if you feel like a heating pad is your only source of pain relief often – purchasing a low radiation product is a good idea.

In addition, you can use a heating pad to warm your bed instead of your body – which can remove some of the risks of radiation entering your womb or your body during pregnancy. Simply lay the heating pad next to your head at the top of your bed or near the legs.

The best low EMF radiation heating blankets

One way to avoid the EMF radiation that heating pads give off is by purchasing an infrared heating pad.

Infrared is a way of producing the same amount of heat, if not more through a process of infrared heating – this is the form of heat that your own body emanates.

Infrared is comparatively the same heat that the sun provides the earth, fire coals provide nearby campers, or tile stoves provide a household. This is the most ancient form of heat used by cavemen to warm their caves.

Infrared heat is the safest form of heat known to mankind for the environment. It is heat that travels through air molecules – then when it reaches a surface it warms that surface.

It is considered long-wave heat and that’s what the body receives the best out of any of the various heat wavelengths.

Longwave heat is the most comfortable for the human body to feel because we are mostly made up of water, this form of heat doesn’t feel as hot even though it is effectively doing its job.

You will feel more comfortable and still have your aches, pains, and other ailments relieved by it. If you’d like to purchase a low EMF radiation heating pad during your pregnancy, the best options are below:

The Back Rescue Amethyst FAR Infrared Heating Pad is made from amethyst

Made from 10 pounds of amethyst stones, this heavy-duty heating pad will keep you comfortably heated while remaining EMF radiation-free. Designed by a great mind, the maker of this heating pad understood the power of low EMF and its impact in this world.

There are coated wires that produce the heat, and the amethyst contains the heat well disbursing it to your troubled areas. These wires produce minimal EMF radiation so this heating pad is a prize in comparison to its counter brands of heating pads.

The UTK ultrasoft heating pad is an extra long heating pad that uses infrared heat

Probably one of the longest heating pads on this list, the UTK infrared heating pad is designed to cover a large area of your body – and it feels similar to a regular heating pad.

Because the heat is disbursed over a large area, your body will need less time underneath this heating pad to feel relieved.

It has an auto shut-off feature which is ideal for the tired days of pregnancy. There is no risk of falling asleep and it is left on. Probably the greatest feature of this heating pad is that it has a memory bank, you get to pick up right where you left off.

A more localized heating pad is made by GemsMat called the Isabella FAR

This is great for women who tend to have localized pain instead of all over the body, say lower back pain more so than any other area of their body.

The Isabella is a smaller-scale heating pad making it one of the most affordable out of the other two low EMF heating pads we have mentioned above.

GemsMat constructed a heating pad that contains various stones and crystals that generate heat powerfully, the stones included with this mat are obsidian, crystal, and amethyst.

If you’re looking for an affordable heating pad that can be used during labor and throughout the entirety of your pregnancy this is a great option.

Truly a quality heating pad, the Isabella reaches between 86 – 158 degrees Fahrenheit and has multiple timer settings to choose from – you don’t have to worry about falling asleep and it remaining on all night.

You can rest assured that you’re placing a low EMF heating pad on your body during a very important time in your life. Your unborn baby will be kept safe and thriving, while your pain is relieved effectively.

Heating pad during labor

In the 4 out of 5 labors that I went through with my own children, was a long labor of me feeling like I was burning up – so I couldn’t have imagined using a heating pad while laboring.

Yet, when it came to my 5th child, my labor was nice and cool – I actually asked for a blanket on my legs when it was time to deliver because I was so cold.

Either world can be yours, and in both worlds – looking back on it – I can see when and where a heating pad would be beneficial for a woman in labor. The lower back often aches intensely during labor, and if you have front labor, there too.

In my experience you will only have front or back labor – not both – a heating pad would greatly relieve the pain experienced during contractions. Using a heating pad during labor could be something you can focus on rather than the waves of contractions happening.

How to use a heating pad safely when you’re in labor and its benefits?

If you end up with a fever for any reason during labor, it’s best not to use a heating pad as this could raise your body temperature further. Be sure to drink enough water and avoid the heating pad if your body gets too hot at any point during labor.

Don’t use a heating pad where you would be number from the epidural

No one can watch over the way a heating pad feels on your skin for you, that’s something only you can do for yourself. If you have the desire to use a heating pad as you go through labor, check to ensure that you can feel the heat of the pad on your skin.

Heating pads can and will burn your skin if they’re turned all the way up to high and get left on your skin.

If you can’t feel it, don’t put the heating pad on top of that location of your body. In addition, don’t put the heating pad where your epidural sight is, or where any IVs are.

There are a few common spots to place the heating pad during labor

The back

Your back is a great location to place a heating pad during labor – it’s a wide area that you can maneuver the heating pad to alleviate your back labor pains. The nice thing about using a heating pad to relieve back pain is that you can use it as an option for using heat as a pain relief method

The Neck

Placing a heating pad on your neck will provide great relief and relaxation to the body as a whole. It is deeply relaxing due to the cervical plexus being at the base of the neck which is a central network center for the nerve endings from the spinal cord.

Using a heating pad or even a warm compress on the neck during labor can relax the entire body and be highly beneficial. The neck is an area during labor that gets tight from constantly tensing up during contractions.

It is a game-changer if you can manage to relax the neck with each contraction; headaches, upper backaches, and clenching your jaw can result from tensing your neck region.

The pubic bone

If you have experienced symphysis pubic dysfunction otherwise known as SPD – the pubic area is one area that can be greatly relieved with dry heat.

Most women regardless of whether they have had SPD or not will feel unimaginable relief from heating the area that the pubic bone sits in – during labor this region is stretching to its maximum and can be sore long after delivery.

When you have chills

Even subtle heat on the random area’s that you feel chills creeping up on your body during labor can be comforting. Chills can be distracting and intense during labor not to mention they can be distracting from the mindset you work hard to get into.

If you have a solid defense for the chills that inevitably happen at various stages in labor, you’ll be better off.

A heating pad can be your defense against chills throughout your labor, it can stay heated and ready to use during your entire labor, which is a nice perk of electric heating pads.

In Conclusion

Heating pads are highly beneficial during pregnancy, and even throughout labor at the end. As long as you understand how to use them safely then there is no reason not to have a heating pad in your pregnancy pain relief toolbox.

Pregnancy, along with the many positive things – is a time of random aches, pains, and a little bit of stress thrown in there – having ways to combat the ailments will help you be able to enjoy the positive aspects of pregnancy even more.

Heating pads are safe and effective to use for pain relief or even stress relief after a long day.

Sources

Use of Heat for Comfort and Pain Relief During Labor – Very Well Family

DIY Reusable Rice Heating Pad – One Smiley Monkey

Heating Pad During Pregnancy – To Use or Not?

The 3 Best Low-EMF Heating Pads – And Why It Matters

6 Best Low EMF Infrared Heating Pads

Hello, I'm Mirisa. I'm a mother to five children, in which I aim to raise through a holistic-practical approach. My goal as a triathlete mom, health, and wellness enthusiast, and an avid entrepreneur - is to inspire other parents that it's completely possible to be a wholesome and loving parent while chasing down your own goals!

Hello, I'm Mirisa. I'm a mother to five children, in which I aim to raise through a holistic-practical approach. My goal as a triathlete mom, health, and wellness enthusiast, and an avid entrepreneur - is to inspire other parents that it's completely possible to be a wholesome and loving parent while chasing down your own goals!