It’s common knowledge that too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation is bad for you, and one of the key causes of skin cancers and other skin issues today. It follows that tanning, whether it’s in natural sunlight outdoors or man-made rays in a tanning salon – is not good for anyone.
Pregnant women, in general, are more susceptible to overheating and dehydration in hot weather. It’s therefore not advisable for you to venture out to the beach or the garden in your bikini to get that honey-coloured glow you’re hoping for. In fact, you should start to wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when you go out in the sun, especially for long periods outdoors.
Then there are the tanning beds in the salon. While the UV rays are unlikely to cause any direct harm to baby (they have to penetrate many layers to get to the fetus), there is the risk of hyperthermia from overheating your body, which is associated with spinal malformations in the baby.
Some studies also link UV rays to folic acid deficiency. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in the baby, and is especially important during the first trimester.
If you do choose to use a tanning booth anyway, do check that it is clean and well-ventilated, and limit your session to a maximum of 15 minutes.
For the avid tanner, self-tanning products from a bottle or spray are the best option for you when you are pregnant. There are many brands of tanning lotions, creams, foams and sprays on the market, which allow you to get the golden look instantaneously without the danger of sun-related issues.
That said, the main active ingredient in most of these products, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), may be able to penetrate the skin, with very small amounts of it being absorbed into your bloodstream. It is therefore wise to wait until after the first trimester is over before using such products on your skin.
By Dorothea Chow