Sun Exposure During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Pregnant woman in Sun

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Your idea of happiness could revolve around a sunny day that speaks tons of positivity. But when you are pregnant, the scenario could change. With people constantly advising you on what to do and what not to do, you may feel conscious about every little thing. If you enjoy sitting in the sun and soaking the sunlight, you may wonder if you should continue doing that now that you are pregnant. Read on to find out more.

Is Sunlight Beneficial During Pregnancy?

Sun exposure is good if you need an adequate dose of Vitamin D. In fact, sitting in the sun can help in the bone development of the foetus while pregnancy. It can also help strengthen the immune system. That said, you should make sure that you do not sit in the sun for longer than your usual time.

During pregnancy, your hormonal levels will shoot up, making your skin more sensitive than ever. So you must avoid long exposure to the sun when pregnant.

Risks of Sun Exposure in Pregnancy

Sensitivity to sunlight or heat may increase in pregnancy can lead to complications for you and your baby. Some of the problems that could arise due to long-term exposure to sun are as follows.

  • Skin Cancer

This is a major concern for women who are pregnant. A study points out to the fact that pregnant women who are exposed to UV rays for extended periods can develop skin cancer. This is due to the sunburns that follow after a prolonged sunbath. As already discussed, pregnant women are prone to skin sensitivity thus there are more chances of sunburn.

  • Melasma

Commonly known as ‘pregnancy mask’, is a condition that may lead to skin discolouration. When pregnant, hormonal changes can lead to excessive production of melanin. Such a condition can further add up to the sensitivity, making your skin lose colour when exposed to the sun.

  • Dehydration

While you enjoy soaking in the sun, if you don’t drink enough water, you may experience dehydration. Though it is a common case irrespective of you being pregnant, the side effects may show up immediately in pregnancy. Dehydration in pregnant women can increase their heart rate and could also reduce the amount of oxygen for the foetus.

  • Folic Acid Breakdown

Certain studies point out the fact that too much sun exposure in pregnant women can lead to a diminution of folate levels. If such a thing happens, it could lead to miscarriages or neural tube defects in babies. Folic acid is necessary especially during the first trimester of pregnancy and UV rays can reduce the folate levels, hence it is recommended to lower your sun exposure in this crucial period.

A woman using a sunscreen

Is Sunscreen Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Sunscreens act as a perfect resort for sunburns and other skin damages. But can pregnant women use it? The answer is, yes, sunscreens can be used by pregnant women. But which sunscreen to use is the question that follows.

Sunscreens are categorized into two types, i.e. physical blockers and chemical blockers. Physical blockers are safe to use as they are a mixture of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that together aid in reflecting back the harmful UV rays.

On the other hand, chemical blockers are not at all recommended for pregnant women. This is because these blockers contain ingredients that absorb the UV rays rather than reflecting them. And one of such ingredients is oxybenzone that is commonly found in chemical blockers. Oxybenzone has been known to penetrate through the skin and holds the potential to cause allergies, hormonal disturbances, and low birth weight especially in newly born baby girls.

Precautions to Take When Sitting in the Sun While Pregnant

Sunbathing maybe your favourite pastime. But when pregnant you need to take certain precautions for your safety as well as your baby’s.

1. Wear Comfortable Clothes and Accessories

Wearing loose and light coloured clothes could be highly beneficial. Colours like white, yellow, sky blue would be great because of its reflective nature. Carrying an umbrella, wearing a pair of sunglasses, and caps with visor could prove to be a boon.

2. Keep Yourself Hydrated

Although water is the best fluid to keep yourself hydrated, juices and energy drinks could be preferred too. No matter where you travel in the sun, always carry your water bottles along to never miss out on the required liquids.

3. Limit Your Sun Exposure

Avoid sun exposure for more than twenty minutes if you have no sunscreen on you.

4. Opt for Supplements

Consult your doctor for Vitamin D supplements if you plan to avoid sun exposure altogether.

5. Know When You Should Go Out

Studies have shown that the best time for sun exposure is noon and not early morning or evening. This is because your body gets the most Vitamin D during this time, especially in summers, with the least risk of causing malignant melanoma.

Also Read: Drinking Water in Pregnancy

6. Wear Sunscreen on Cloudy Days

That’s right! The harmful UV radiation that is emitted by the sun still reaches your skin; only it has been scattered because of the clouds, dust, or even fog.

While pregnant, staying informed is staying safe. If you enjoy sitting in the sun, you can do so even while pregnant, just make sure that you do not sit for more than 20 minutes. Don’t sit for too long, consult with your doctor about alternatives to Vitamin D. And you should check with your physician about how much sun exposure is safe beforehand if you have sensitive skin.

Also Read: Common Skin Changes During Pregnancy

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