Even on the most sedentary of days, a pregnant woman's muscles can ache. Add in a long day at work, chasing after toddlers, and taking care of things around the house and you have a compelling reason for hopping into a soothing bath at night. When an athlete complains of muscle soreness, they are advised to take a bath and add Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, to the water. If you're pregnant, you may wonder if this treatment could help your aching pregnant body too. But what if you're pregnant with high blood pressure — is Epsom salt safe? After all, salt is not your BFF when you have hypertension.
Go ahead and have that soak. Dr. Sherry A. Ross, an obstetrician and gynecologist in California and author of the book, She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period., tells Romper via email that, "If you have been diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension or other complications of pregnancy, it is still safe to take Epsom salts baths while pregnant." Dr. Ross says that Epsom salt baths have been around for centuries and have been used to help sooth muscle aches and pains in women whether they were pregnant or not.
The one thing you do have to worry about before crawling in the tub though, is temperature. As with any bath during pregnancy, be careful not "to make the bath too hot or soak too long, as that can raise a woman's core temperature," cautions childbirth educator Deena Blumenfeld, owner of Shining Light, a company that helps pregnant women through childbirth education, doula services and yoga classes, in an interview with Romper. Both Dr. Ross and Ms. Blumenfeld both warn that pregnant women should never ingest Epsom salts during pregnancy, unless you speak with your healthcare provider first.
Epsom salt baths can be amazing in so many ways. Its origins go back to Epsom, England where the magnesium sulfate mineral was found bubbling up from an underground spring in the 17th century, according to Apartment Therapy. When they drank the water, they found it bitter tasting, but also found it to be a great laxative (as tempting as it might be to use this to relieve your pregnancy constipation, again, do not consume Epsom salts without consulting with your doctor). Over the years, people started putting the salts into baths and noticed how much it increased their ability to relax.
Michelle Crafton, an obstetrics nurse and co-owner of Tots To Bottoms, a childbirth, lactation and newborn preparedness company, tells Romper she often recommends soothing baths to the pregnant women she counsels, but there are some risks to be aware of. "Baths before bedtime could be beneficial, especially for expectant mothers who aren't sleeping well because of the possible aches and pains of pregnancy, and adequate rest could help to reduce high blood pressure," Crafton says. "Epsom Salt may decrease inflammation and swelling yet I would strongly recommend mothers consult with their OB or Midwife regarding the frequency and duration of soaking and any safety concerns specific to the management of their hypertension," she continues. "I know it is possible that 'bath salt intoxication' exists with overexposure and this could possibly impact kidney function, so again, I would recommend mothers consult with their provider, especially if they're at higher risk."
While Epsom salt is readily available, the Epsom Salt Council recommended that you buy packages that have the USP label and a drug facts box to ensure that they have been approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Epsom salt baths are a great way to relax, and for the most part, safe to use during pregnancy. Now the only thing you need to do is to sneak away and find a few quiet minutes to enjoy it.