Tanning While Pregnant – Just How Safe Or Dangerous Is It?

Many people spend weeks if not longer trying to get their dream tan either through sunbathing or tanning beds. But should you stop trying to get your dream tan if you’re pregnant? It’s a hotly debated subject with staunch supporters on both sides of the debate.

Let’s take a look at the more natural sunbathing method first shall we?


Sunbathing outdoors might sound like the better option if you want to get a tan while pregnant, after all, it’s the natural way to get one, isn’t it? In general sunbathing outdoors is better than going to a tanning bed but it does still come with some potential dangers.

Both the sun and the artificial lights in tanning beds produce UV rays but they aren’t the immediate danger when it comes to sunbathing outside. The dangers to watch out for are things like dehydration and even overheating.

If you spend too long outside you can easily start to overheat and feel dehydrated, which is why you should always have a bottle of water with you and ensure you don’t go out when it’s too hot.

a pregnant woman holding her belly while sitting in the sun

When pregnant your skin will also be more sensitive which can cause you to burn more easily.

So, make sure you use suntan lotion and try to tan in the mornings or evenings when it’s a little cooler. Tanning while pregnant is also more popular than you might think because pregnant women do tan more easily.

This is because pregnant women have higher levels of the Melanocyte-stimulating hormone. This hormone makes your skin react to the sun and go darker and with increased levels during pregnancy, getting your dream tan is usually going to be easier and faster.

Tanning Beds

Using tanning beds might seem like the safer alternative to sunbathing outdoors. On the one hand, this does make some sense after all a tanning bed is usually going to be much quicker than tanning outside.

However, just because using a tanning bed is quicker that doesn’t mean it’s safer! The concentration of UV rays given off by a tanning bed is also usually much higher than those given out by the sun. When combined with the more sensitive skin you have during pregnancy, this can lead to an increase in burns.

There is also a lot of evidence suggesting that regular tanning bed sessions can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. To be specific, there is evidence showing an increased risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer.

Some research studies have also suggested there could be a link between UV ray exposure and folic acid deficiency in babies.

We do know that UV rays can break down folic acid but there isn’t enough evidence right now to suggest tanning beds can cause this problem.

That being said there is no law saying you can’t use a tanning bed while pregnant but if you decide to, you should take proper safety precautions and be aware of the risks involved.

You might also want to take more moisturiser with you and keep your stomach covered to decrease the risk of burns and irritation.


Other Safety Concerns

We’ve already explained the risks to you and your baby in brief but let’s look at some other safety concerns you need to know about if you’re going to get a tan while pregnant.

One issue to look out for is chloasma (sometimes called melasma) which is a skin condition that causes discoloured patches on the skin.

a pregnant woman laying in the water on a beach

The vast majority of people affected by this condition are women and exposure to UV rays can exacerbate the problem and evidence suggests regular tanning of any kind could also trigger it as well.

So, there are potential safety concerns when it comes to tanning either by using a bed or by sunbathing outside. Yes, you can use either of these methods to go and get a tan but I and many other professionals would strongly advise against it.

But does that mean there is no way to get a tan while pregnant then?

Tanning Alternatives

If you want a nice summer ready tan but don’t want to risk UV exposure and the other dangers we’ve talked about, then you do have another option. Namely self-tanning lotions. The majority of these lotions are safe to use during pregnancy and the chemicals in them won’t be absorbed past the first layer of your skin.

However, you should still consult with your doctor first before using them just in case and make sure you stick to lotions and not spray tans. This is because the chemicals in spray tans can reach your baby if you breathe them in during the tanning process.