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 a little bun is sitting in your oven, you might want to put your desire to tan 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 various complications and health hazards for the mother and the unborn baby.
What are the risks of tanning in the sun during pregnancy?
1. Lowering folic acid levels
Research shows that overexposure to ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun reduces folate and folic acid levels, increasing the risks of neural tube defects like spina bifida.
The adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation hamper fetal growth in early and mid-pregnancy. A study in Australia revealed that women exposed to UV rays for prolonged durations in the first trimester delivered babies with multiple sclerosis.
2. Triggering skin ailments
Dermal problems like chloasma (mask of pregnancy), characterized by dark facial patches, hives, itchiness, and rashes, are more common during pregnancy because of the changing hormone levels and increased skin sensitivity. Being in the sun for very long aggravates them.
3. Worsening dehydration
Tanning in the sun would overheat the body, leading to dehydration, an already-common problem during pregnancy. Severe dehydration may have serious negative effects on fetal development.
4. 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. Though there is no direct impact on the unborn baby, the mother’s declining health may harm the fetus.
Safety tips for laying out in the sun when pregnant
All of the above does not mean you must stay locked indoors throughout 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 wearing a crop top or short beachwear, apply sunscreen lotion (at least SPF30) on your belly and the other uncovered parts.
- Besides carrying a portable travel umbrella, wear a broad-brimmed sun hat to shield yourself from UV rays.
- Do not sit out in the sun for long stretches, and move away, preferably to some air-conditioned room, when you feel uneasy or nauseated.
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 your baby’s growth.
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.