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Is it Safe to Lay Out in the Sun While Pregnant?

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Is it Safe to Lay Out in the Sun While Pregnant?
Slather on sunscreen to avoid skin discoloration. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

When pregnant during the summer, it's tempting to take some time to lay out in the sun for the ideal sun-kissed glow. But before you head out with your swimsuit and towel, consider the way that UV rays affect both you and your baby. While only preliminary studies have been completed, research points toward a link toward folic acid deficiency and your exposure to the sun's harsh rays. Protect yourself and your baby when coming in contact with the sun.

Fetal Dangers

A study published in a 2005 issue of "Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology" found that when exposed to UV rays, folic acid degradation occurs. Since folic acid is necessary for your baby's growth and development, it presents an argument for staying out of the sun. A lack of folic acid sometimes results in physical deformities, such as spina bifida. Getting enough folic acid is especially vital during the first trimester. While the link between sunlight exposure and harm to the fetus isn't completely proven, staying out of the sun and protecting your body is wise during the first months of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Issues

The excess of female hormones in your body during pregnancy presents specific problems for your skin when exposed to the sun. Melasma, sometimes known as pregnancy mask, occurs when the area above the lip becomes hyper-pigmented. While the appearance fades after pregnancy, exposure to sunlight darkens the pigments during pregnancy, making the darkened skin more noticeable. Laying out in the sun or using tanning beds also puts you at risk for overheating, which is associated with general nausea, dizziness and even physical malformations in your growing baby.


If you're going to be out in the sun, protect your skin and your growing baby from penetrating UVA and UVB rays by using an adequate sunscreen. Sunscreen does not harm your baby. Use a high SPF of 30 or above and reapply every few hours, after sweating or after being in the water. If possible use clothes and hats to cover your skin and avoid using tanning beds, which as of 2011 have not been closely studied in relation to pregnancy.


Instead of looking to UVA or UVB rays to get a warm glow come summertime, use sunless tanning lotions instead. Sunless tanning lotions contain dihydroxyacetone, which is generally safe. Wait until the second trimester to be safe, then use tanning solutions in lotion form, but not sprayed forms. Spray-on tans cause inhalation risks which could cause temporary respiratory difficulties. Instead, a mild tanning cream which darkens as you use it gives you a summer glow without danger to your baby.

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