Cold Baths and Showers During Pregnancy
We probably think of a hot shower or bath as soothing or luxurious, but for most of us, the same image doesn’t pop up in our mind when thinking about taking a dip in an icy lake or standing under a shower with only the cold water on. However, there are many health benefits in taking a cold bath or shower, including soothing itchy skin, decreased inflammation, better sleep, increased energy, and a better immune system.
The benefits of cold therapy have been greatly established by Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman. He is a major proponent of ice water diving, as well as extended periods of full contact with ice. His method consists of the Three Pillars:
- Cold Therapy: to boost your immune system, sleep better, reduce inflammation, and enhance nature’s mood boosters.
- Breathing: to improve energy levels, detox the body, reduce stress levels, and rebalance the nervous system.
- Commitment: the commitment to move out of your comfort zone.
As with any health practice or therapy, we should be aware of our body’s response, the climate we’re used to, and our level of experience.
Cold showers stimulate noradrenaline and beta-endorphins, and stimulates our nervous system having an antidepressant effect, and enlivening you for the day. Naturally our bodies respond to the cold water by increasing our heart rate, and our circulation.
Some tips for those mamas wanting to start the cold water shower challenge would be to start with a warm shower and gradually lower the temperature. Feel free to adapt during the duration of the shower leaving the last 30 seconds for the coldest water temperature. If you’re not ready for an all-over-body cold shower, getting your feet in cold water also works. Ice baths for your feet help with sore muscles, and swelling in the feet and legs, and may also help keep you cooler since your core temperature rises during pregnancy. This can also be helpful for reducing lactic acid in the muscles after exercise. For perineal care postpartum, ice packs and alternating warm and cool sitz baths can soothe and reduce swelling or you can alternate warm sitz baths with Frida mom ice pads.
There is concern to not overdo things while expecting, and baths or showers in too hot of water can reduce blood flow to the baby, putting the baby under stress. It is easier to raise the core temperature of the body than to lower it too much, so a cool shower is a safe bet, and since a cold shower can give us a boost of energy, those mamas who are really missing their coffee have an alternative to feeling awake, and ready for the day.
During the hot summer months, it can be overwhelming, especially when you’re far along in the pregnancy, and it might sound like a great idea to just sit in the bath or under the shower while the cold water falls on your overheated body and baby bump. The best piece of advice, whether you’re pregnant or postpartum, is to look for the middle ground, to find a balanced approach. Just like you should not slip into a steaming hot bath or shower, you should take precautions in taking ice cold baths. Any major temperature shifts that you’re not used to should be handled with care, and remember to always consult with your doctor before starting.
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- Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
- Neurological Disorders and Pregnancy
- From Hot to Cold: The Hidden Health Benefits of Bathing
- Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression
Eat Right For Your Baby
- The Whole Pregnancy Handbook: An Obstetrician's Guide
- Ice Bath Benefits: How Cold Therapy Improves the Body and the Brain
- Cold Showers vs. Hot Showers: Which One Is Better?
- North American Journal of Medical Sciences
- I Took A Freezing-Cold Shower Every Morning For A Month & This Is What Happened
- What is the biochemical and physiological rationale for using cold-water immersion in sports recovery?
- Wim Hof Method
Edited by: Lily Zara