Using a heating pad during pregnancy

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Pregnant woman in pain
Most pregnant women experience back pain and muscle soreness; the use of heating pads to relieve these pains is a frequent topic of debate
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Relieve your back pain.

While undoubtedly one of the most joyous times in a woman's life; pregnancy can also be one of the most uncomfortable and achy times in a woman's life. A woman's body will go through numerous adjustments, stretches and changes during the pregnancy. Many women experience discomforts like back pains, aching and muscle soreness in their neck, legs and feet as well as breast tenderness. Using a heating pad during pregnancy to ease some of that discomfort is possible, with caution.

Are Heating Pads Dangerous to Use During Pregnancy?

Doctors and midwives agree that heating pads, preferably those that do not have to be plugged in, are good for easing sore muscles and tired limbs. Heating pads that function by plugging into an electrical outlet reportedly emit electromagnetic fields and should be used with care and after speaking with your doctor.   Some medical tests indicate these fields may lead to birthing problems and even increased chances of miscarriage. Do not panic; an open conversation with your doctor will help ease any unnecessary concerns.

Heating Pad Use During Pregnancy

It is also suggested that heating pads be restricted to specific body areas, i.e. legs, feet, thighs for limited time intervals. Heat should never be applied for soreness in the stomach area. As a precaution, if soreness or muscle spasms in the stomach area are experienced your physician should be immediately contacted. While it could just be one tired mommy, you want to be sure there are no serious problems occurring in an undetected fashion.

Do remember that when used in specific or centralized body locations, heating pads will not increase your overall body temperature. You may find that the length of time or the degree of temperature you can handle is different. This is largely due to the fact that often, during pregnancy, a woman's skin can become very sensitive. Do not try to just take the heat that is uncomfortable; instead adjust the temperature and allow the lower heat to soothe you. A good idea when using a heating pad against your back is to put a pillow beneath the pad so that it penetrates the warmth to the area better.

Other Options

Some heating pad options include those that are warmed in the microwave or the ones that many of our mothers and grandmothers used. These are usually plastic bottles that you fill with hot water heated at an easy-to-handle temperature and then applied to the area. If you want to stay away from the heating pad all together you might want to consider using an ice pack. Ice packs are usually better to the touch, especially if you have experienced some form of injury. The coolness will work better to help decrease swelling.

Another suggestion to ease the mommy-to-be's aches, pains, swelling and discomfort is a little thing that calls a rice sock. While the price of rice has gone up considerably, what is a little cost when it comes to making sure mommy and baby are comfy? To make a rice sock, find a brand new or clean men's over-the-calf tube sock. You want to assure you have enough room to cover the affected area. Fill the sock with about two pounds of uncooked rice. Now you can either tie it off, find something that you can tie it with that will not come open or stitch it closed by hand or sewing machine. Once it is securely fastened, microwave it for two full minutes. Carefully remove it and apply it to your sore spot. A rice sock will hold heat for about an hour.

If none of that seems to work, remember a nice hot bath or pulsating hot shower does wonders for most aches and pains. You may also want to consider massage therapy specifically for expecting mothers. Using a heating pad during pregnancy is still a viable choice however, and most homes are usually equipped with them it is tucked away in that just-in-case closet way in the back. 

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