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Are Heating Pads Good for Pregnant Women?

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Are Heating Pads Good for Pregnant Women?
A pregnant woman is lying down on the couch. Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

The aches and pains of pregnancy, especially during your last trimester, can seriously affect your quality of life. The shift in balance that your growing belly causes often results in lower back pain, leg and hip pain and other issues. Heat helps to soothe the pain, but before you use an electric heating pad, know your options and learn to use the pad safely. While heating pads are generally safe for pregnancy, falling asleep with one plugged in could be dangerous.

Pregnancy Pain

Pain during pregnancy isn't just limited to your back. While your back bears the brunt of much of your change in weight and balance, some pregnant women also experience near-debilitating leg cramps, sore necks and sore, swollen feet. For most of pregnancy's general aches and pains, heat acts as a way to soothe tense muscles and find temporary relief, though if your pains are interrupting your daily life, mention them to your doctor at your next prenatal appointment.

Using a Heating Pad

Obstetrician Russell Turk tells Babycenter.com that heating pads are completely safe during pregnancy. While raising your body temperature unsafely and rapidly could cause developmental issues in your growing baby, applying a singular heating pad to one area of the body will not raise your overall body temperature. Feel free to use a heating pad on one area of the body at a time, as necessary, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Safety Precautions

While using a heating pad is generally safe during pregnancy, you'll still need to take care when using a pad on a regular basis. Heating pads are electrical devices and, as such, should be used with supervision. Never fall asleep with a heating pad switched on and touching your body because the continuous exposure could cause burns. Electric heating pads are also unsuitable for children, so keep your device well away from any other children in the home.

Other Remedies

Electric heating pads aren't the only choice you have when it comes to pregnancy pain relief. If you tend to fall asleep when heat is applied to your body, try using a heat sock that has been warmed in the microwave, which cools over time to avoid burns. Taking a warm — not hot — bath is a relaxing way to end the day, while taking acetaminophen helps to manage daily pain. Ask your doctor before taking any medication. If pregnancy pain is diminishing your quality of life, talk to your doctor about the basis of your pain and various management techniques to make your pregnancy more comfortable.

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