Falling Asleep With Heating Pad While Pregnant – Good Or Bad? (Other Options To Relieve Pain)

A heating pad can be very beneficial in relieving the cramped muscles and reducing pain significantly when you’re pregnant. The pain can be felt in the lower back, belly area, or thighs. You can use the heating pad on any part of the body, but only for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t fall asleep with the heating pad as there’s a risk of increasing your core temperature, which can be harmful to the baby. If used in the first trimester, it can lead to abnormalities and risk miscarriage. Be careful when using a heating pad and remove if you feel overheated or don’t feel the baby moving. There are a couple of other ways you can use to help relieve your pain, such as yoga, massage, or acupuncture. Discuss your options with your doctor. 

While pregnancy is a beautiful time for parents, it has its own ups and downs and not to mention how physically draining it could sometimes be. As you shift into your third trimester, as ligaments shift and the weight of the uterus increases, it causes abdominal and back pain. This is when you want to start using a heating pad to relieve your sore muscles.

While doctors say it’s safer to use a heating pad more than using a sauna or hot tubs to relieve muscle pain, there are still some doubts and questions about when and how pregnant people should use it. 

When is it safe to use a heating pad in pregnancy? How long are you supposed to use a heating pad? How is a heating pad safer than hot baths? Let’s look at all of these questions and when and how it is safe to use a heating pad during your pregnancy. 

Muscle cramp and pain during pregnancy

Pregnancy is truly one of the happiest times, and it’s more so in the beginning if you don’t have morning sickness. Pregnancy can be an effortless journey or filled with many ups and downs depending on person to person. 

During the first two semesters, usually, there aren’t many difficulties that pregnant people face physically. But as they enter the third trimester, things start getting tough on their bodies. A lot of changes happen during this time, both physically and emotionally.

But one thing that happens to most is experiencing back and abdominal pain. Nearly every pregnant person experiences some form of pain during this time, and it could be because of the following reasons:

  • As the pregnancy enters the third trimester, your body releases hormones to prepare for delivery that helps your ligaments soften, and your joints loosen. This could result in a not well-supported back, which can be uncomfortable and painful.
  • During this time, the posture of the body changes as the center of the gravity of your body is altered due to growing a child. There’s a significant change in how you walk during this time, and you’ll notice it’s more like a duck to have a better balance of your body. The more children you’re carrying, the more difficult it becomes during this time.
  • As months go by and the fetus develops and grows in the belly, the more weight it takes on and puts on your belly. This also puts a lot of pressure on your pelvic area, so the frequency of peeing also increases in the last two months of pregnancy.

All these reasons cause the back and abdominal pain a pregnant parent feels. There might be muscle spasms or cramps, which sometimes can be too painful. 

Using a heating pad during pregnancy

Some days might be better during the third trimester, but other days can be pretty painful with muscle cramps in the lower back, pelvic pain, or abdominal area. For this reason, doctors suggest using a heating pad or ice packs to relieve sore muscles.

This kind of pain during pregnancy is not a one-time thing and will be experienced on and off. Using a heating pad opens up the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and bringing fresh supplies of oxygen and nutrients. This helps reduce joint pain and eases soreness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. 

Heating pads also result in the opening up of the body as the muscle cramps are provided heat. So, it has quite a few benefits for pregnant people. But the duration and usage of the heating pad is also something to watch out for.

Can you fall asleep with a heating pad during pregnancy?

Doctors usually tell pregnant people to avoid using a sauna or hot baths during pregnancy. This is because it can increase your core temperature and harm the baby, leading to abnormalities, birth defects, or miscarriage. 

For this reason, heating pads are advised to use whenever you experience a cramp or back pain during your pregnancy. A heating pad can be used in isolated places and doesn’t increase the core body temperature. 

But even a heating pad is said to be used for 10 to 15 minutes. A lot also depends on how hot it is for your usage. Prolonged use of a heating pad can also result in harming the pregnancy. Using it during the night is something to be avoided because it can increase the core body temperature.

Especially don’t use any kind of heat during the first or second trimesters of the pregnancy as it can lead to neural tube abnormalities. The neural tube eventually forms the brain and spinal cord, and damage to it can result in brain damage and other serious complications.

So, using a heating pad to relieve muscle pain is preferred more as it’s safer for the baby. Use it for brief periods. 

Ways to use a heating pad during pregnancy

A newly pregnant woman is laying down with a heating pad because she's feeling pain from muscle cramps

Another concern gripping many pregnant people is how to use the heating pad, which involves which part of the body to use it on that can provide relief. Or if it’s safer to use heating pads on places like the belly and back. 

We have established that using a heating pad is safer than hot tubs, sauna, or long hot showers. A heating pad used in isolated locations doesn’t increase the core body temperature for a brief time. 

But it’s never too much to know the ways you can use a heating pad and avoid potential risks. Below are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Even though there’s not much muscle cramping in the first or second trimester, still avoid using a heating pad as there’s a higher risk of harming the pregnancy during this time.
  • Please don’t use a heating pad for prolonged periods of time and use it for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
  • If you feel hot or overheated during this time and there’s sweating, then stop using a heating pad immediately.
  • Always pay attention to the baby’s behavior when using a heating pad. If there’s less movement, then stop using the pad.
  • Don’t apply the heating pad directly to your skin. Either apply it over your clothes or wrap it in a cloth and then use it.
  • Try getting a pad that shows the heating level and then use the lowest setting.
  • Don’t fall asleep with a heating pad on any part of your body. 

There are different kinds of heating pads available in the market, such as electric heating pads. Discuss it with your doctor if you have any doubts or concerns regarding a heating pad to avoid complications. 

Pure Enrichment® PureRelief™ XL (12" x 24") Electric Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps - 6 InstaHeat™ Settings, Machine-Washable, Soft Microplush, 2-Hour Auto Shut-Off, & Storage Bag (Gray)

When to stop using heating pad during pregnancy

Using a heating pad can make a pregnant person feel all kinds of comfortable and wonderful, and it does help provide relief to cramped muscles as it increases the blood flow. It then reduces the pain significantly in your back, belly, hips, and even thighs.

But sometimes, you might get pain in your abdomen, which might have a different cause than just muscles pain. The pain in the abdomen during pregnancy could be due to gas, constipation, bloating, or even ligament pain. There might be even a possibility of some severe issue you don’t know about. 

In this kind of pain, the heating pad might not help you or worsen the situation further. It could be irritating, though, to figure out what kind of pain it is when you’re so heavily pregnant. 

But some symptoms can outright let you know that it’s time to head over to the doctor and leave your heating pad behind:

  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Feeling of lightheadedness
  • Pain or discomfort while urinating
  • Nausea or vomiting

If there’s gas or constipation, you can try changing your positions like sitting, standing, reclining, or just walking for some time to help you relieve this situation. 

If there’s chronic pain anywhere in your body, then head over to your doctor right away.

Some other pain relief options during pregnancy

While using a heating pad is a great and more convenient option, but it usually provides temporary relief. A couple more options can work wonders which are more long-term.

Taking medications like painkillers is not advised during pregnancy, so we don’t want to risk the pregnancy by going in that direction.

Some other safe options for pain relief include:

Massage

As the baby grows in weight during the third trimester, the belly becomes heavier, changing body posture. This leads to some tension in the muscles, making you ache all over.

Getting massages is a great way to reduce muscle ache and is also comforting. After the massage, you can feel so great that it comes as a warm, comforting hug. This is the way to reach more muscles while you just relax.

Relaxing meditation

Sometimes all you need is just to catch some time to relax and be mindful of the things around you. Some meditation and deep breathing exercises and help muscles relax too. Gentle stretching and meditation can help your body relax, reducing muscle tension and pain.

Yoga 

If you’re not a yoga person, you need to know how good it is for pregnancy and how it helps the body stay fit while keeping the baby safe. This is a gentle form of exercise which works on all your muscles and keeps them from cramping up. Many yoga teachers give special classes to pregnant people for yoga because it’s that effective and comforting.

These are some of the other pain relief options you can choose besides a heating pad. Or you can even mix and use all of these from time to time. For getting a massage or acupuncture, you should make sure the person is well known and authentic in their field and knows how to help a pregnant person during the sessions.

FAQs

Does heat affect baby movement?

Hot tubs, sauna, or hot showers should be avoided when pregnant. When a lot of heat is used on the body, it raises our core temperature, which can harm the baby. 

It can lead to abnormalities of the fetus too. It’s safer to use a heating pad that provides heat to isolated parts and isn’t harmful when used for a brief time. There’re other safe options to use and provide relief to the aching muscles during pregnancy. 

Why does my back hurt pregnant?

The baby grows bigger in the uterus as the months go by, expanding the stomach. The bigger the uterus, the more weight it puts on your pelvic area and changes the center of gravity of your body. This makes you walk funny as you start walking with a much wider gap.

This directly affects your posture, and as it changes, you might feel an ache in the lower back. You can try using a heating pad, massages, yoga, or stretching exercises to provide relief. 

Can heat make Braxton hicks worse?

When using a heating pad, you need to be mindful about how long you’re using it. Any kind of direct heat is bad for the fetus, especially if used for a prolonged time, and this is because overheating can also cause you to get dehydrated. 

When dehydrated, it makes it difficult to sweat to cool off your body which can cause Braxton hicks contractions and make you feel dizzy or faint. Braxton hicks contractions are false labor pains, so as a first-time parent, you might freak out and think you’re having real contractions, which isn’t the case. 

Is a hot water bottle safe during the first trimester?

Using a hot water bottle works well to relieve muscle cramp pain. But it’s not advisable to use it during the first trimester. This stage is very delicate for the fetus, and anything can easily result in a miscarriage or abnormalities in the baby. 

When a lot of heat is provided to the body, the core temperature might rise, which isn’t good for the baby. So even when using a heating pad, use it for 10 to 15 minutes. If you feel overheated, hot, or sweaty, stop using the heating pad at once. 

Can I take hot showers during pregnancy?

Taking hot showers during pregnancy isn’t bad, but only if you use it for a few minutes. Taking long hot showers or hot baths can raise your body’s temperature, leading to abnormalities in the baby or causing neurological defects.

There’re plenty of other ways to provide relief to the sore muscles, which aren’t harmful in the least. Using a hot water bottle for 10-15 minutes at a time is one of them. 

To summarize

When you’re pregnant, many things can feel uncomfortable during this time. One such thing is getting muscle cramps and pain in various parts of your body, such as your back, pelvic area, abdominal area, and so on. 

Using a heating pad is one such way to relieve your cramped muscles and get some much-needed rest. But using it only for a short duration is recommended because if used longer than 10 to 15 minutes, such as sleeping with the heating pad, it can cause some serious damage to the fetus.

This is why hot baths, using the sauna, or hot showers are advised against during the pregnancy. If you want to provide relief to your muscles, you can do a couple of other things like yoga or getting a full body massage. 

You can take your heating pad and keep it on the lowest. Even if you do fall asleep, let a family member know to check up on you so they can remove the heating pad when you’re sleeping.