Sunbathing pregnant: is it dangerous for the baby?

The expert: Céline Dalla-Lana, midwife

As is so often the case, on sunny days in spring and summer we are tempted to get a tan. Even during pregnancy, the sun’s rays are beneficial for your health, provided you stay moderate.

Can I expose myself to the sun while pregnant?

Adequate sun exposure allows you to replenish vitamin D. expectant mothers often lack it in the third trimester of pregnancy and the sun remains the main source of this vitamin for our bodies, far ahead of food. Its rays promote the synthesis of the vitamin that leads in particular an increase in the level of calcium and phosphorus in the bloodthe strengthening of bones and teeth, an increase in brain activity, even in the embryonic stage … Sun exposure even has an interest in strengthening the immune system and is good for the cardiovascular system!

The future baby is protected from the sun’s rays by its mother’s skin and the amniotic fluid in which it bathes. Pregnant women can therefore sunbathe in the fresh air if they remain careful.emphasizes Céline Dalla-Lana, midwife in the Alpes-Maritimes and author of “The secrets of successful breastfeeding”, published by Frison Roche. “It is recommended to expose the body to the sun daily 10 minutes forward and 10 minutes back, for example in a bathing suit when the weather permits. We often warn against the sun’s rays with good reason, but we have to make concessions.” upset the midwife.

Sunburn, heat, pregnancy mask… What are the risks of pregnancy?

Desiring to tan while pregnant carries the same risks as any UV exposure. So, whether you are pregnant or not, by exposing yourself to the sun’s rays, on can then suffer from sunburn, heat stroke, sometimes even sunstroke and the risk of dehydration. The heat also causes a feeling of heavy legs and the appearance of varicose veins. UV rays are harmful to the eye and can cause macular degeneration or premature cataracts. Repeated and intense exposure also promotes accelerated skin aging, the occurrence of melanoma and even skin cancer.

However, there is an additional risk if you expose yourself to the sun during pregnancy. “Due to the hyperpigmentation of the skin during pregnancy, when you are exposed to the sun, especially on your face, We risk a pregnancy mask. It’s a skin reaction to pregnancy hormones.”, explains Celine Dalla-Lana. The pregnancy mask is characterized by more or less dark spots on the face, mainly on the forehead, nose and cheekbones. He is caused by an overproduction of melanin (pigments that color the skin), favored by hormonal fluctuations and exposure to the sun.

When will the pregnancy mask arrive?

Pregnancy mask or chloasma occurs when there is sun and often occurs from the 4th month of pregnancy. Not all pregnant women are the same, some are more prone to pregnancy mask than others due to genetic predisposition. In France, around 5% of pregnant women wear a pregnancy mask.“When the pregnancy mask appears, it is recommended to wear a visor to protect your face, if only to buy bread, for example, because it pigments very quickly! », warns the midwife. The pregnancy mask, if it is not too pigmented, usually fades within six months after birth. On the other hand, if it is very pronounced, it can remain permanently.

Sun exposure can also cause hyperpigmentation in other areas of the body. On the abdomen, therefore, we can see a vertical brown line that extends from the navel to the pubic bone. However, this brown line disappears more easily than the pregnancy mask. Nipples and armpits may also darken under the action of UV rays.

Note that perfumes, like sun exposure, tend to aggravate the pregnancy mask. They should therefore be avoided if possible or sprayed onto clothing rather than onto the skin.

Can I wear self tanner while pregnant?

“In general, you should avoid using cosmetic products during pregnancy, as they often contain synthetic ingredients that can be endocrine disruptors, harmful to the health of mother and child. It is also not recommended to dye your hair or apply nail polish as you will inhale solvents.” says Celine Dalla-Lana.

The use of self-tanner is therefore not recommended by the midwife. During lactation it is also contraindicated to apply cosmetic products to the skin, at least one should apply as little as possible. “The more ingredients in their composition, the greater the risk of allergies and interactions between the components”, remarks the specialist. So make sure you choose your cosmetic products carefully during pregnancy and ideally only use what is absolutely necessary.

Are tanning capsules allowed during pregnancy?

To prepare and limit your skin to the sunr oxidative damage from UV rays, dietary supplements or tanning capsules. They are to be swallowed as a cure a few days before sunbathing. These dietary supplements may contain carotenoids, including beta-carotene, also present in carrots. Once in the body, it is converted into vitamin A to help maintain cellular health and vision, protect skin from external aggressions from the sun, and play an antioxidant role.

Other vitamins, such as vitamins C and E, are also included in the composition of these capsules. These vitamins are also recognized antioxidants. They also protect the cells from it Damage related to sun exposure and skin aging. These tanning capsules do not replace sunscreen and are used as a complementary solution to improve effectiveness. However, it is strongly recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding get advice from your doctor before taking any dietary supplement, including tanning capsules, to better assess the benefit/risk balance.

Apart from the face, which is particularly sensitive to the sun, you can sensibly expose your whole body, no more than 15 minutes at a time, avoid direct sunlight during the hottest hours. For the abdomen, it is better to wear a one-piece swimsuit to avoid the appearance of the brown line.

The precautions to take

– Before exposing yourself to the sun, it is advisable Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to your body (minimum SFP 30 to 50 depending on skin type). We also avoid going out in the middle of the day, during the hottest hours, between 12pm and 4pm.

– To limit the risks of pregnancy, pregnant women can also wear masks a wide-brimmed hat and quality sunglasses to cover his face and protect his eyes.

– Several brands offer UV protective swimsuits. It may be wise to wear a special one-piece swimsuit to put the odds on your side.

– It is also important Stay hydrated by drinking at least 1.5 liters of water daily. Take your water bottle with you on a walk! A vaporizer can also refresh and prevent heat stroke to enjoy sunny days with more serenity.

Children’s sunscreen, a good option if you are pregnant

Sun protection is essential when exposed to the sun, especially for children and pregnant women. A study conducted on rats showed that certain chemical filters in sunscreens can cause abnormalities in baby rats (malformations, delayed puberty, etc.). However, experience has been gained through oral administration and at very high doses, so the risks are lower with conventional use. However, as a precaution, the three chemical filters examined in this study are now absent from sunscreen products in Europe.

For optimal protection The pregnant woman can opt for a special children’s sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and will contain fewer pollutants, especially parabens.

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