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While traditional blankets keep you warm by trapping your body heat within it, electric blankets use electricity to heat up a thin, insulated copper wire inside the blanket to warm it up before you even get into bed! If on a cold wintery evening, you have heard the phone ringing in the other room and dreaded the idea of having to let go the blanket, get cold, and then come back to bed, only to have to wait again, for warmth to build up, then you know exactly why the ‘electric blanket’ was invented and can’t thank enough for it. But if you are pregnant, you might want to think twice before using it. If you want to use an electric blanket in pregnancy to keep yourself warm, then think again because it’s not safe to use during pregnancy.
What Makes an Electric Blanket Unsafe for Pregnant Women?
Where there is electricity, there are electromagnetic fields. The adverse effects on the human body, from exposure to this invisible field, are still being studied. The presence of an electromagnetic field is one of the reasons why mobiles are considered dangerous to keep in your pockets on a long-term basis. The same is the case with an electric blanket. It is believed that the overheating of the blanket could affect the baby.
Risks Associated With Using an Electric Blanket While Pregnant
Following are the risks associated with using an electric blanket during pregnancy:
- The higher the settings of an electric blanket, the stronger the EMF it produces. The difference in the strength of the field on low settings and high settings can be up to three-fold! This compounds the risk of a miscarriage.
- Using an electric blanket on high settings could cause a miscarriage. This risk is highest during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.
- Using an electric blanket on high settings frequently over the course of the pregnancy is linked to low weight in babies at birth.
- Overheating increases the risks associated with the use of electric blankets. The high heat could disrupt the development of the neural tube in the foetus during the early stages (first trimester). This could result in serious conditions such as spina bifida.
- Overheating could also make you sweat while you sleep, and may lead to dehydration.
Precautionary Tips for Using an Electric Blanket in Pregnancy
If using an electric blanket, it is recommended that you take these precautions (as they may apply):
- If the weather is not severely cold, it is better to turn off the power after the blanket heats up. Since the blanket will trap your body heat anyway, it will not go cold later on.
- Overheating the blanket can affect foetal development in the first seven weeks of pregnancy, so an electric blanket is best avoided during this time.
- Avoid using an electric blanket towards the last weeks of your pregnancy. In the event of your water breaking, the blanket may get soaked, cause a short-circuit and increase the risk of fire.
Alternatives to Electric Blankets
It is not advisable to use an electric blanket during pregnancy as there are enough and more risks associated with the use of electric blankets in pregnancy, especially in early pregnancy and during the first two and last months of your pregnancy, and for the most part, when the blanket is in high settings. It’s best that you consider alternatives to electric blankets. Some of the alternatives you can consider are:
- Use a hot water bottle to heat up the inside of the blanket.
- The modern-day alternative to a hot water bottle is a heating pad. Heating pads are long, soft, and pliable allowing you to wrap them around your neck or body. All you need to do is microwave it to heat it up, and you are ready to go!
- Layering up is another way to go! Put on a warming nightcap, socks, and thermal innerwear, and add layers to your outerwear to keep yourself warm and cosy.
Other than these alternatives and precautions, manufacturers of electric blankets have taken concern on the effects of EMF and have developed blankets with very low to no magnetic field. But it’s best that you avoid using any kind of electric blankets during pregnancy. If you want to keep yourself warm, wear thermal wear and layer up as much as it’s comfortable for you and your baby.
Also Read: Hot Water Bath During Pregnancy