Temperatures are rising as spring readies for summer, and I think everyone agrees this is good news. But for moms-to-be who worship the sun, is it safe to go tanning when pregnant? The answer, as you unfortunately suspect, is that when you're expecting, it's better to stay in the shade. Though there's no conclusive evidence that tanning can directly harm the fetus, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) urges expectant mothers to think twice before soaking up the sun.
Whether naturally acquired by sun exposure or by lying in a tanning bed, a tan puts you at risk for developing malignant melanoma, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Heat from the sun, though it feels delicious on the skin, and has been linked to improved mood, according to a study published in Huffington Post, is not worth the damage tanning can cause. It makes me sad to write this, because there are few things I love more than lying out. But after a skin cancer scare, I learned the hard way that sun exposure is just too much of a risk when it comes to your health. When pregnant, you want to be as healthy as possible, not just for the obvious reasons, but because being healthy will make you feel better. So, if you're pregnant and like to tan, get the lowdown before you break out the coconut oil and beach towel.
1UV Rays May Cause Folic Acid Deficiency
The APA reported that UV rays are linked with folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is essential in the first trimester, as it's been proven to decrease the risk of spinal bifida and other neural tube birth defects.
2When You're Pregnant Your Skin Is More Susceptible To Burns And Hives
The APA also noted that pregnancy makes your skin more susceptible to burns and hives. To avoid these conditions, the APA recommended staying out of direct sunlight, especially in the first trimester.
3When You're Pregnant, Your Skin Is At Risk For Developing Melasma
Parents noted that pregnant women are at risk for developing melasma, also known as pregnancy mask, which is a discoloration of skin on the face. Direct sunlight, especially caused from tanning is likely to increase your risk for melasma, and also darken any sun spots that you already have on your face.
4UV Rays From The Sun Can Increase Feelings Of Nausea And Dizziness
Parents also pointed out how nausea and dizziness are possible side-effects of tanning. During your first trimester, you're likely to experience nausea and dizziness anyway, so you definitely don't want to aggravate either of these not-so-pleasant conditions.
5Self-Tanners May Be The Best Route, But There Are Risks
If you have an event or your pregnancy glow isn't sating your desire for tanned skin, the APA recommended going the route of self-tanner. The organization does note, however, that the active ingredient in self-tanner, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), might penetrate the skin, which might have unknown effects on a developing fetus. That's a lot of uncertainties, which is why you should ask your physician before you apply a self-tanner, especially in the first trimester.
I'm not saying you need to walk around with an umbrella, shielding yourself from all rays. But a common sense approach is probably best when it comes to tanning while pregnant.