Be Sunsafe when pregnant
When pregnant during the summer months it is tempting to head outside in the sun for the ideal sun- kissed glow. However, before you grab your towel and beach clothes, consider the effects ultra violet (UV) rays have on both you and your baby.
UV impacts on folic acid
Folic acid is necessary for your baby's growth and development. Long term exposure of the mother, especially during the first trimester, to UV rays, can lead to folic acid degradation which can lead to physical deformities in the baby. Pregnant mothers are often advised to take folic acid supplements, speak to your GP for additional guidance.
Overheating and sun tanning
Although all people exposed to heat can be affected by overheating, pregnant mothers are more at risk because of the changes in their skin and body temperature. Overheating during pregnancy can cause: heatstroke, hyperthermia, dehydration, increase/decrease in body temperature and blood pressure, heat cramps and stress.
Non-pregnant women have a core body temperature of around 37 degrees celsius, in pregnant women, this core body temperature rises. Exposure to UV rays can affect the core body temperature in pregnant women, as well as the temperature of the unborn child leading to neurological damage to the unborn baby.
Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, a woman's skin becomes more sensitive and can easily burn when exposed to the sun. Pregnant women are advised to stay out of the sun where possible and to protect themselves from the UV rays.
All of us have melanin skin pigment for skin colour, but this colouring (pigmentation) increases with pregnancy. Darkened marks can appear on the face called chloasma (pregnancy mask) and on the tummy called linea-nigra, this is an indication that exposure to the sun is causing an increased skin response (The darkened skin usually fades after birth). Please consult your GP with regard to any changes in your skin.
Pregnancy and sun bathing
Tanning by the sun, or through tanning beds, involves exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation, regardless of pregnancy, can have serious negative effects on your health. Tanning is the body's response to protect itself from harmful UV rays. The health risks of tanning include:
- Skin cancer
- Eye damage
- Premature skin aging
- Sun burn
Sunscreen and pregnancy
Sun screen that is applied to the mothers skin is expected to have little effect on the baby, however there are no formal studies on the use of sun screen in pregnant women.
The World Health Organisation considers the application of broad spectrum sun screen (UVA/UVB sun screen) compatible with breast feeding.