3 May, 2022
Heat Packs in Pregnancy
Heat packs can be a great relief, especially during pregnancy.
There's many reasons why you might need pain relief during pregnancy! There's plenty of hormonal changes, stretched ligaments, changed posture, increasing weight and more blood flow.
You might experience pain in your ribs, pelvis, back, neck, shoulders, wrists, ankles, feet, head... yep - pretty much all over!
If you feel any pain over your belly or experience other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, cramps or spots in your vision, seek assistance urgently from your OB, midwife or hospital.
Benefits of Heat Packs During Pregnancy
- Medication-free pain relief
- Relieve muscle tension and stiffness
- Improve flexibility
- Paired with ice packs, your OB or midwife may recommend to help spin breech or transverse babies
Pregnancy Safe Pain Relief Options
In addition to using heat packs, you may need some extra assistance to get out of pain - or at the very least get a bit more comfortable before baby is born.
Some safe and effective options include:
- Spinning Babies exercises
- Magnesium salts in a bath but not too hot
- Stretches and strengthening exercises (ask your chiro, osteo or physio for advice)
- Magnesium or other supplements (always check with your practitioner first if it's safe during pregnancy)
- Support belts, bands or clothes
A word of warning, be cautious of any rubs or creams that you use while pregnant. Most will be safe, however it's best to check with your health practitioner or pharmacy where you purchase the cream from first.
Types of Heat Packs for Pregnancy
- Sticky pads
- Wheat bags
- Hot water bottles
- Electric heat packs
- Hot shower
- Electric blankets
- Hot bath / hot tub
* caution with hot tubs with overheating
Safety of Heat Packs During Pregnancy
Heat packs can safely be used throughout the body, except over the belly.
With all the extra blood pumping around the body and energy used, you can naturally already feel warmer during pregnancy. That "pregnancy glow" might be more sweat than anything else. If you are already hot, don't use a heat pack. You will need to watch for overheating, just the same as you do when you exercise.
To avoid overheating, it's best to avoid sleeping with a heat pack unless it's a wheat bag or hot water bottle that will naturally cool down. Stick on heat pads can stay warm for 12 hours so these are best left to the daytime when you can monitor how you feel and take breaks as needed. Use your electric blanket to warm up the bed, but turn it off before falling asleep.
Instead of applying directly over your skin, wrap up the heat pack first or put over the top of clothes. This will protect your skin.
For hot water bottles, they can be overfilled and burst. Be sure to let out some steam and only fill it half to three quarters of the way to avoid this.
Heat and ice packs on the belly can be used to help encourage breach babies to turn but this should I only be done after speaking with your pregnancy care team.
About the Author
Dr Tonilee Pelz - Chiropractor & Pilates Instructor
Dr Tonilee is a pregnancy-trained chiropractor as well as a pre and post-natal Pilates instructor. She uses Optimal Maternal Positioning to help mums feel great during pregnancy and bubs into a comfortable position. Once bubs is born, she's then equipped to gently check the newborn and assist with twisted neck, birth trauma and flat head syndrome.
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Doula, Women's Health Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Spinning Babies Lover
As a Chiropractor, Doula and perinatal Pilates & Yoga instructor, Dr Cassie loves to help pregnant women keep fit, healthy and comfortable. Knowing how empowering it felt to be fit and energetic during the pregnancy of her son inspires Cassie to want this for her patients. Cassie incorporates Spinning Babies, Yoga and Pilates exercises into her prenatal and postpartum Chiropractic sessions. She's currently studying her Graduate Certificate in Women's Health Medicine through the University of New South Wales.