Is Sun Tanning Safe When Pregnant?

August 13, 2008

Pregnancy Question

I love to be brown and I love to lie in the sun. Is it safe for me to do so while I'm pregnant?

There's something lovely about a nice brown body. It looks so healthy and athletic, regardless of its shape. It can make muscles appear more defined and make certain colors look better when you wear them. And, the sun is healthy - lots of Vitamin D comes from the sun and it's the only place you are really guaranteed to get it.

Now For the Facts on Sun Tanning And Pregnancy

Okay - now for some of the facts around tanning. First, we probably all know by now that a tan is your body's attempt to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. We are told that over-exposure to UV rays can exacerbate the onset of aging skin and can be a risk factor in developing skin cancer. Some women experience hypersensitivity of their skin to the sun while they're pregnant and can burn easily as a result. Higher levels of melanocyte-stimulating hormone during pregnancy can make women prone to excessive skin pigmentation, often resulting in what is called "pregnancy mask" which is irregular dark markings on the face.

And The Other Pregnancy Facts

On the other side of the coin, a shortage of sunshine can have negative results as well. Our bodies rely on Vitamin D for the absorption of vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat. Strong bones and teeth are a result of adequate amounts of the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D protects us from osteoporosis and boosts the immune system. It helps to maintain a normal heartbeat and efficient clotting of our blood and - it may help in the treatment of some cancers.

What To Do About Tanning and Pregnancy

So, how do we do this? Well, one sure way is to get outside into the sun for at least fifteen minutes a day. Sun beds (tanning beds) are not really safe for pregnant women, mostly because we don't know the long-term effects of ultraviolet rays from an artificial source upon unborn babies. The knowledge that folic acid can be broken down by strong sunlight has led researchers to conclude that UV light from a tanning bed can do the same thing. In the early stages of pregnancy, folic acid is critical for protection against neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies.

An Answer or Two For You-Hydration and Pregnancy

The risk of overheating is great in hot climates or in a hot sun. Overheating and dehydration have the potential to cause serious problems for both mother and baby, so it's best to get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun early in the day, before it gets really hot and ensure you are well hydrated and properly protected from burning.

If looking like a coffee bean is really important to you, there are many types of self-tanning creams available that are not toxic and work well. Just be sure to do a skin test first in the event your pregnant condition makes you sensitive to the lotion.

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