Ahh, summer sun. There’s not much better than a cool drink, a gentle breeze, and soaking up the sunshine.
But is it safe to tan while pregnant?
When the weather gets warmer, it’s tempting to grab your bikini, shorts, and sundresses and head to the beach for a much-deserved tanning session.
But can I tan while pregnant? we hear you ask.
Yes and no ‒ keeping your sensitive pregnancy skin safe out in the sun is important, but vitamin D is great for boosting your immune system.
Relax, mama ‒ we’ll answer all your tanning pregnancy questions…
In this article: 📝
- Is it safe to tan while pregnant?
- How to stay safe while pregnant and tanning
- When should you stop tanning if you’re pregnant?
- Do you tan easier when pregnant?
- Can you use self-tanner while pregnant?
- Are sunbeds safe while pregnant?
Is it safe to tan while pregnant?
In general, yes, it is safe to tan while pregnant ‒ but there haven’t been enough studies to prove it either way.
Whether you’re a beach-lover, sunbed starlet, or get bronzed by the bottle (no judgment here!), for the most part, it’s just as safe to get your tan on whether you’re pregnant or not.
Spending too much time in the sun or the tanning bed can be harmful, though, regardless of pregnancy.
Tanning in a sunbed can increase your chances of getting melanoma by a shocking 75% ‒ and that’s from just one session before you turn 35. Scary.
And catching natural sun rays can be just as dangerous, due to the UV (ultraviolet) radiation ‒ although less concentrated than a tanning bed.
But the sun is also the best way to get vitamin D, which can help prevent depression, protect us from diseases, and give our immune systems a boost.
So what does that mean for tanning while pregnant?
It’s all about moderation.
It only takes a little time in the sun for you and baby to get the vitamin D you need.
Plus, if you’ve got particularly sensitive skin that’s prone to burning, pregnancy vitamins can be the way to go, and chances are your prenatal supplements have some vitamin D anyway.
Speaking of sensitive skin, you might find that your skin is a bit more delicate during pregnancy ‒ which can be a nightmare for sunburn.
Spend a little time (around 5-15 minutes) in the sun before you seek the shade, stay hydrated, and make sure you’re slathered in sunscreen.
Risks of tanning while pregnant
Although we’ve said that sunbathing when pregnant is generally safe, there are some risks to be aware of.
Pregnancy and sunburns
Your pregnancy can cause sensitive skin, which means you’re more prone to sunburn.
While getting a bit of sunburn won’t usually cause any issues for your baby-to-be, nasty sunburn while pregnant could cause some complications.
If you’re pregnant and sunburned badly (we’re talking blisters and peeling skin), that means you’ve been in the sun for a long time.
The sunburn itself won’t cause problems for your little one, since they usually just go skin-deep, but the heat might.
Sunstroke and overheating while pregnant
Being in the sun raises your basal body temperature (BBT), which means you can get dehydrated and your baby-to-be can overheat.
Overheating in fetuses can, unfortunately, cause brain damage, early labor, neural tube defects, and miscarriage.
So doing what you can to stay cool on hot days can be vitally important.
If you start to feel dizzy, nauseated, or tired while out in the sun, you may have sunstroke, so find some shade, get hydrated, and, if you can, go somewhere with air conditioning.
How to stay safe while pregnant and tanning
So how can you protect yourself if you’re tanning and pregnant?
Basically, use the same measures as you would if you weren’t pregnant:
- Wear a big, floppy hat (oh, so stylish!)
- Drink lots of water
- Use sunscreen ‒ at least SPF 30 ‒ 15-30 minutes before going out and re-apply every 2 hours (mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are best)
- Get in the shade regularly
- Stay out of the sun when it’s at its peak (usually between 10am and 4pm)
- Wear light layers to cover your skin
Don’t forget to do all these top tanning tips whether it’s cloudy or not ‒ UVA rays don’t stop for clouds.
When should you stop tanning if you’re pregnant?
Between 2 to 7 weeks, your little peanut is starting to go through organogenesis, so this is the highest risk period that overheating can affect your baby.
From 8 to 15 weeks is also considered quite risky for tanning over long periods.
But tanning is generally safe throughout your pregnancy, although you have to be careful not to get too hot.
Do you tan easier when pregnant?
Your skin gets more sensitive when you’re pregnant, so you may be quicker to tan or burn than usual.
You might find that, along with a bit of bronzing, you’ve got dark patches appearing on your forehead and nose ‒ these are called chloasma, a sort of hyperpigmentation, caused by the increased estrogen in your body.
Chloasma is more common in pregnancy, and might not go away once you’ve had your baby.
The best way to avoid tanning too quickly is to use a higher-SPF sunscreen or sunblock.
Can you use self-tanner while pregnant?
If you’re thinking ‘UV rays sound nasty, can you get a spray tan while pregnant?’, we hate to tell you this, but self-tanning can have some risks, too.
Most self-tanning lotions are safe when pregnant, aside from the potential of allergy or skin sensitivities causing reactions.
Self-tanning lotions, foams, and creams don’t get past the first layer of skin, and don’t have risks of melanoma or chloasma ‒ according to most doctors.
But if you’re wondering if spray tan is safe for pregnancy, that’s another story.
If you breathe in the chemicals from a spray tan, they can potentially harm your baby.
The DHA (dihydroxyacetone, if you’re feeling nerdy) is the active ingredient in most tanning products, and it can cause dizziness and breathing problems.
There haven’t been many studies on the effects of DHA on unborn babies, but given the effect breathing them in can have on expecting mothers, it’s best to avoid them.
If you’re keen on using a spray tan for an even sunkissed look, we recommend wearing a nose filter and making sure your tanning salon has an extractor fan, to minimize the risks.
So when it comes to using self-tanner, pregnant people are generally safe.
Are sunbeds safe while pregnant?
When it comes to tanning beds and pregnancy, the jury’s still out.
Some studies have shown that using tanning beds while pregnant is a major no-no, while others suggest it carries the same risks as sunbathing while pregnant.
But there are some risks you should be aware of:
- Overheating and raising your BBT (basal body temperature) can cause physical issues with your baby and even pregnancy loss
- Tanning beds increase your chances of getting melanoma (skin cancer), whether you’re pregnant or not
- More highly [concentrated UV rays could break down folic acid],9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22747844) which can impact your baby’s development (there haven’t been enough studies on this, though)
- Dehydration can cause low blood pressure, which can lead to low birth weight for your baby and, in extreme cases, stillbirths
Can sunbeds cause miscarriage?
There aren’t enough studies to definitively say whether sunbeds cause miscarriages.
But they can cause overheating, particularly during longer sunbed sessions, which increases the risk of birth differences and miscarriages.
The most recent evidence suggests that sunbeds and long periods of tanning in the sun have the highest risk during your first trimester.
So it’s best to avoid sunbeds during your first trimester and try to limit your time in direct sunlight.
All in all, tanning while pregnant is considered safe for you and baby.
But it’s not without its risks ‒ overheating, dehydration, and melanoma are all potentially dangerous to both of you.
We suggest avoiding sunbeds and tanning sprays altogether, just in case, and making sure you take extra precautions when you’re out and about in the sun.
So grab your sunscreen, sip some water, grab that big, floppy hat that makes you feel like a movie star, and soak up some vitamin D, mama ‒ you deserve it! ☀️
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