Sun Tanning while Pregnant

Basking in the sun in your skimpiest outfits on a beach holiday is the most natural way to get that special brownish glow. However, when there is a little bun sitting in your oven, you might want to put your desire of tanning in the sun on hold, like many other things, due to potential harm.

Can you go sun tanning while pregnant

Tanning in the sun while pregnant is usually considered unsafe as it is associated with a host of complications and health hazards for the mother and the unborn baby [3, 5].

Sun Tanning While Pregnant

What are the risks of tanning in the sun during pregnancy

Lowering folic acid levels

Research shows that overexposure to ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun reduces the folate and folic acid levels [1], increasing the risks of neural tube defects like spina bifida [ 2, 3].

The adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation hamper fetal growth mostly in early and mid pregnancy. A study conducted in Australia revealed that women exposed to UV rays for prolonged durations in the first trimester delivered babies with multiple sclerosis [5].

Triggering skin ailments

Dermal problems like chloasma (mask of pregnancy) characterized by dark facial patches [4,8,9], as well as hives, itchiness, and rashes are more common during pregnancy because of the changing hormone levels along with the increased sensitivity of your skin [3, 5]. Being in the sun for long only aggravates them [3].

Worsening dehydration

Tanning in the sun would overheat the body, leading to dehydration [6], an already-common problem during pregnancy. Severe dehydration may have serious negative effects on fetal development [7].

Causing sun poisoning

Sitting under direct sunlight for long increases the chances of sun poisoning with symptoms like fever, dizziness, fatigue, swelling, blisters and pain [12]. Though there is no direct impact on the unborn baby, the mother’s declining health may be bad for the fetus [11].

Safety tips for laying out in the sun when pregnant

All of the above does not mean you need to stay locked up indoors throughout your pregnancy. You and your baby would be fine as long as you take the following precautions when spending some time on the beach or just out on your porch:

  • Drink sufficient water to keep your body hydrated.
  • If you are wearing a crop top or short beach wear, apply sunscreen lotion (at least SPF30) on your belly as well as the other uncovered parts.
  • Besides carrying a portable travel umbrella, wear a broad-brimmed sun hat to shield yourself from the UV rays.
  • Do not sit out in the sun for long stretches and move away, preferably to some air conditioned room, the moment you feel uneasy or nauseated [7].

So what if you cannot have a whale of a time tanning in the sun, there are some safe sunless fake tan options available, like lotions and creams. Their nontoxic dihydroxyacetone content does not penetrate deep into the skin, keeping them from interfering with the growth of your baby [8, 10].

One response to “Sun Tanning while Pregnant”

  1. Janet says:

    I was told with my last pregnancy that its not the UV light that will harm the baby, bc the UV could never reach the baby with all those layers, but it can harm you if you over heat your body. i’m getting married in may and i only wanna go a couple of times, i dont wanna go throught out my pregnancy…

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