Sun exposure during pregnancy – is it risky or not? A strongly promoted idea of the advocates of natural pregnancy and birth is that a pregnant woman is a like any other woman and pregnancy is a natural stage of life – so some super-protective measures taken by many of the future mothers are exaggerated! The pregnant woman is not sick, she does not require special treatment and drastic measures of protection! Therefore, she should not give up on the small pleasures of life just because she is pregnant …
Sun exposure during pregnancy, if and only if we talk about a healthy woman, a pregnancy that evolves normally and a limitation of sun exposure has no negative effects on women, the foetus or pregnancy! What one has to do is to take care of the duration and time of exposure and more attention to protection. However, nothing in this life is certain – so the more you take care of yourself, the better!
About sun exposure during pregnancy:
- More careful protection. If you are pregnant, you should keep in mind all the recommendations regarding exposure, which you may have ignored in the past. Now you can no longer afford to forget these recommendations about the duration and time of exposure and the ways to protect your skin. Why? First of all, because the skin of pregnant women is more sensitive. Unprotected exposure or with a prolonged duration can affect pigmentation – now, there are more spots on you. The normal effect during pregnancy, called “the pregnant woman’s mask” (chloasma or melasma) can be much more intense if you forget protection rules (pigmentation is caused by melanin, which is stimulated by exposure to sunlight). So, this happens when you are at the beach – and also always when you stay outside for long, being exposed to sunlight. Use a special daily face cream with a sunscreen protection factor SPF over 30. When the sun is strong or you stay longer outside, protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat. As for the beach, use a regular body cream with an SPF protection factor above 30.
• What kind of sunscreen to use? For sun exposure during pregnancy to be without any risk, make sure you use cream all over your body 30 minutes before going out; also use the cream after entering the water or after an hour – half an hour (or when ever feel your skin is dry). Go to the pharmacy and ask for a moisturizer with a high factor or SPF protection for pregnant women. You can ask the doctor too if you want to, but the pharmacist will know to give you creams based on olive oil, honey and vitamin E, which are very good.
• When is sun exposure safe during pregnancy? Normally – low risk exposure is between morning hours: 8.00 – 11.00 and then in the afternoon between: 16.00 – 20.00. Avoid at all costs staying in the sun between 11.00 and 16.00 (some would tell 17.00), especially when the sun is very strong. Do not think that you can stay on the beach / pool under a parasol! There are risks because sand and water reflect sunlight. Similarly, if it’s cloudy outside – the sun rays are still powerful… Do not stay too long outside- staying in the sun for an hour should be enough …
• Overheating. You may have heard old people talking about how your unborn baby could be “baked” if you expose yourself to the sun. Well, as long as you limit the sun exposure during pregnancy, there is no risk – the uterus protects it very well. Instead, you may cope with overheating – basically meaning that your body does no longer regulate effectively the body temperature, which can affect the temperature of the foetus. If you notice that: you are dizzy, have headaches, have clammy skin, plus intense breath and e pulse and you feel sick, go immediately inside, drink fluids and lie down. If an hour passes and you do not feel well, call a doctor.
• Dehydration. Heat can involve the risk of dehydration – and seriously affect the foetus. If you notice that: you are very thirsty constantly, you have dry lips, you’re nervous or tired, you have a red face or a difficulties breathing, get inside and drink plenty of fluids. Regardless of the duration of exposure to the sun, make sure you drink plenty of water or juice everyday and if you feel too heated, stay inside.
• Sunstroke. Be aware of sunstroke! Protect your head with a hat, drink fluids and do not stay outside on the beach for more than an hour (regardless of if it’s cloudy, or you have and umbrella or say in the water). If you notice that: you are dizzy, you feel lethargic and almost feel like fainting, have convulsions, increased heart rate and fever, call a doctor.
• Sensitive areas … Protect carefully the skin of your breasts and belly – which is put to the test during the pregnancy. Massage these areas more carefully, especially while having shower after the beach and when you use hydrating cream. By the way: do not forget, after each exposure, to use plenty of body cream, massaging gently. The legs are another sensitive area – the high temperature dilates blood vessels, so take care of your feet by keeping them water and lifting them frequently in a high position.
Conclusion? A moderate sun exposure during pregnancy does not affect the woman or the foetus if all precautions are taken into account. The foetus can be at most disturbed by the intensity of the light (the sunlight does not affect him directly, but inside, it can perceive the bright light). But first keep in mind your doctor’s advice – he may not recommend your sun exposure during the first trimester. As with all the issues regarding pregnancy, the first and most important word belongs to a specialist, so ask him for advice and take it with you, before you go on holiday.