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Is a Cold Plunge Safe During Pregnancy?

is a cold plunge safe during pregnancy

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If you are considering a cold plunge during pregnancy, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider and take appropriate precautions to reduce your risk of harm. By doing so, you can help ensure the health and safety of both you and your developing baby. In this article, we answer the question, ‘is a cold plunge safe during pregnancy’ by looking at a well-documented case on Instagram (Josephine Worseck) and looking at recent studies that provide findings on cold exposure for pregnant women.

pregnant woman should be cautious when taking cold plunges while carrying their baby, ice baths do induce stress on the body

Risks of Cold Plunging While Pregnant

When examining the risks of cold plunging while pregnant we look at a popular case study by the Wim Hof instructor from Germany, Josephine Worseck, PhD. She is the first female Wim Hof instructor that took to Instagram to document her experience with the practice while pregnant.

Josephine states in a post made that she sided on abstaining from cold plunging while pregnant for these two reasons:

  1. Ice baths activate the immune system- during pregnancy, the immune system should be lowered so that the embryo can absorb and not be pushed away

  2. Ice baths and cold plunges lead to an increase in natural “killer” cells

Although there are no studies that state whether cold plunges, ice baths, or cold showers have a negative effect, she personally decided to abstain from the practice for 10 weeks while carrying her child.

She states that wim hof breathing is not for pregnant women, as the oxygen saturation in the blood drops very low while practicing and might have negative consequences. It should be noted that Wim Hof breathing can be practiced until you miss your period but as you the embryo is starting to e formed it is wise to stop according to Worseck.

is a cold plunge safe during pregnancy?

Benefits of Ice Baths during Pregnancy

While Worseck cautions mothers to be to not cold plunge while being pregnant she did not describe the potential benefits for women who are already pregnant for cold plunging.

In two studies (Retnakaran et al. 2018 and Guo et al, 2017) it was found that greater cold exposure during the winter months led to a benefit of increased insulin sensitivity, lower blood glucose levels, and a decrease in risk of premature birth.

Given the benefits of cold exposure in general pregnant women may benefit from minimal cold exposure while avoiding the sauna completely. Large amounts of heat exposure may be the greatest risk during the first trimester. Despite the extreme cases of hypothermia, studies have shown that there is minimal risks to the fetus fro cold exposure.

Is a Cold Plunge Safe During Pregnancy?

It is crucial to remember that there is little research on this specific topic. There is conflicting evidence that the risks and benefits of cold plunging are completely applicable to pregnant women. Going through a pregnancy is a huge change and a very complex topic, what is safe while you are not pregnant may not be safe while pregnant. You should consult with a medical professional before doing anything.

The emotional and psychological benefits of cold plunging are well-documented and backed by studies. While there are many studies done on people who are not pregnant, there are not many studies linking the health benefits directly to women who are pregnant.

FAQ

Who should not do cold plunges?

Pregnant women should carefully access whether they should or should not cold plunge while being pregnant. Another group of people that should lean on the side of caution are those with heart problems, are getting into their elderly years, or those that are prone to getting hypothermia. Deliberate cold exposure is a stress-inducing process that pushes our bodies and minds, always lean on the side of caution if you are in this group of people.

Is it safe to swim in cold water when pregnant?

Taking ice cold baths is fine but there is a difference between doing a cold plunge and just a cool watered bath at home. Cold Plunges are when water temperatures rest between 39°F and 59°F. At these temperatures, the body reacts differently.

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