Pregnancy can be a magical time. But it can also be a very difficult time, too. The physical and hormonal changes that take place during those nine months can leave some women feeling uncomfortable, uncertain, and detached from their usual selves.
Self-care during pregnancy is essential. That’s why there are so many companies offering mum-to-be spa days or pamper parties, and why there’s a huge range of lotions and creams specially designed for expectant mothers. They’re vital ‘pick me ups’, helping women to treat themselves and regain confidence in their own bodies.
But sometimes, lotions and bubble baths aren’t enough. Sometimes, a healthy-looking tan can be what’s needed to help women really feel themselves. But can you use sunbeds when pregnant? The good news is yes! In fact, they can even be beneficial.
Tanning During Pregnancy
If you’re wondering if you can go on sunbeds if you’re pregnant, remember that traditional tanning beds (as opposed to the more modern red light or collagen beds) emit the same type of light - ultraviolet (UV) rays - as the sun. Would you stay hidden away, out of the sun, for the duration of your pregnancy? Of course not! If you use a sunbed responsibly, there’s really no reason why you couldn’t build a healthy tan.
The NCT confirms that ‘there’s no clear evidence that sunbeds are unsafe during pregnancy’. But it’s always worth talking to your doctor or midwife before tanning if you have any concerns about using a sunbed, or if you want to ask any questions about it.
Are Sunbeds Good for Pregnant Mums?
Some women that safely use sunbeds while pregnant may see health benefits, especially if they’ve been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency. Pregnant women are one of the most at risk groups for Vitamin D deficiency, and if levels drop below a blood serum level of <50nm, there could be increased risk for both mother and baby.
WHO reports that low Vitamin D levels can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and tissue-specific conditions. Additionally, babies born to Vitamin D-deficient mothers may be at increased risk of developing bone conditions such as rickets. While there are lots of ways to boost Vitamin D levels, such as dietary changes and supplements, sunbeds can also help to increase Vitamin D.
While sunbeds can be very safe during pregnancy, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure you’re always protecting yourself, and your growing baby.
1. Tanning Duration & Exposure
Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can have some unusual effects, and one such effect is increased skin sensitivity. Some women may find that they burn quicker and more easily when pregnant, so it’s important not to spend too long tanning. Always set the session time to the minimum to avoid burning or overheating.
If you’ve developed chloasma during pregnancy - dark patches of skin on the face - you may be at greater risk of burning, and the patches may become darker or larger when exposed to UV light, so sticking to short and snappy session times is usually best.
2. Folic Acid Levels
Folic acid plays a huge role in fetal development, particularly in the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. That’s why women are often advised to start taking folic acid supplements (400micrograms daily) when trying for a baby, and to continue taking them until the second trimester when the neural system is fully developed.
Research suggests that UV rays can break down folic acid in the body, so it’s very important to ensure you’re getting enough folic acid if you’re in your first trimester. If you are worried you’re not getting enough, be sure to speak to your doctor or midwife.
3. Sunbed Type
Traditional sunbeds are comfortable and relaxing, but if you’re heavily pregnant and are finding movement and mobility difficult, you may find lying down on a sunbed quite challenging. The good news is that there are lots of different types of sunbed available today, and some of them may be more comfortable for pregnant women to use.
One type that you may want to consider is an stand-up sunbed model that allows you to simply walk into the tanning chamber and stand during your session rather than trying to get comfortable laying down… or attempting to stand up again once your session is over!
Feel Good During Pregnancy
To summarise, can you use sunbeds if you’re pregnant? Yes! But is it a good idea? It absolutely can be, as long as you make sure you’re tanning responsibly, and protecting yourself and your baby. If you have concerns, always speak to your doctor or midwife.