Sun Exposure During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?
Every article that we publish, confirms to stringent guidelines & involves several levels of reviews, both from our Editorial team & Experts. We welcome your suggestions in making this platform more useful for all our users. Write in to us at email@example.com
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.
In this article, we will find out whether or not you should be exposing your pregnant belly to sunlight or not. We will also look at the benefits, risks and precautions you must take while doing so. Read on to find out more.
Is Sunlight Beneficial During Pregnancy?
Want to know the benefits of sun exposure while pregnant? 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.
1. 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.
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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
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.
1. When Is the Best Timing for Sun Exposure During Pregnancy?
You can have sun exposure anytime between 10 am to 3 pm when pregnant.
2. How Long Can a Pregnant Woman Sit in the Sun?
When it comes to pregnancy and sun exposure, a pregnant woman should not have sun exposure for more than 10 minutes a day.
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.
1. The Importance of Morning Sunlight for Better Sleep; sleepadvisor.org; https://www.sleepadvisor.org/morning-sunlight/
2. Christian Dustmann, Malte Sandner, Uta Schönberg; The effects of sun intensity during pregnancy and
in the first 12 months of life on childhood obesity; jhr.uwpress.org; https://jhr.uwpress.org/content/wpjhr/early/2022/05/02/jhr.0920-11159R1.full.pdf
3. Sunshine and healthy babies; tommys.org; https://www.tommys.org/research/research-topics/premature-birth-research/does-sunlight-reduce-risk
4. 2nd trimester pregnancy: What to expect; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20047732
5. Vitamin D: Screening and Supplementation During Pregnancy; acog.org; https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2011/07/vitamin-d-screening-and-supplementation-during-pregnancy
6. Pregnancy and Tanning; americanpregnancy.org; https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/tanning-during-pregnancy/
7. Malihe Botyar, Rozita Khoramroudi; Ultraviolet radiation and its effects on pregnancy: A review study; NCBI; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6069651/; June 2018
8. Quick Dose: How Long Can Pregnant Women Stay Out In the Sun?; nm.org; https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/quick-dose-how-long-can-pregnant-women-stay-out-in-the-sun