With daylight savings time over and longer, warmer days ahead, now is a good time to bring up the topic of being pregnant in the sun. Perhaps you're headed to a tropical destination for your babymoon and looking forward to getting some sunshine on your pale, wintry skin.
Wait just a sec. Before you put your pregnant curves into a bikini for sun bathing, I have a few things for you to consider.
I'm quite fond of saying "pregnancy changes everything," and I mean it. Being pregnant even changes your skin and how it reacts to sun exposure.
I'm sure you know that over-exposing your skin to sun at any time:
- increases your risk of skin cancer
- dries out skin, and
- speeds aging (and thus wrinkling).
Those are reasons enough to be cautious about the rays, but did you know that when you combine sun with the hormone cocktail coursing through your body during pregnancy that it can cause hyper-pigmentation? This extra darkening is called chloasma (also melasma), and because it commonly manifests as patches around the skin of your forehead, nose, and cheeks, it's also known as "the mask of pregnancy."
I'll talk more about chloasma in the future, but here are a couple quick facts to do for now:
- up to 70% of pregnant women will develop these darker skin patches
- the darker your skin's complexion, the more prone you may be
- your risk increases with each subsequent pregnancy (so just because you didn't have chloasma with your first baby, doesn't mean you'll avoid it the next time)
- skin bleaches are contraindicated during pregnancy (so prevention is key!)
As if chloasma weren't enough of a problem, pregnant women in the sun get sunburns faster, along with increased risk of heat rash and bumps.
The drying effect of being in the sun while pregnant will dry out your skin, thus putting you at risk for increased severity of stretch marks.
Sunshine in pregnancy isn't an all-together bad thing, though. Soaking up some sunshine allows your body to develop much-needed vitamin D, which has benefits for both you and your baby. In fact, recent studies suggest that women are not getting enough vitamin D during pregnancy, and that the recommendations for a supplement should be increased.
So how do you balance the vitamin-D-craving for sunshine with protection from it's potential damage?
It's not so hard. Catch the benefits of sunshine but mitigate the risks by:
- Keeping your face covered with a wide-brimmed hat when out of doors.
- Wear mineral makeup (which usually has an SPF of 15 or so) and a barrier sunscreen (like Protect & Reflect SPF 30 Sunscreen, Anti-Chloasma Facial Sunscreen or Organic Anti-Aging Mineral Sunblock) on your face.
- After you've had 15 minutes of sun on your arms, legs and hands, cover up with UV-protective clothing (first choice) or apply barrier sunscreen (second choice).
- After having your pregnant body in the sun, apply generous amounts of moisturizer to your skin.
Any questions? Share your feedback below.