Pregnancy and tanning can be extremely healthy for both you and your unborn child, as long as you are careful and fully mindful about how you go about it. As soon as I fell pregnant, I became intensely focused and connected to this tiny being growing inside me. My completely natural instinct to embrace the sunshine while being outdoors as much as possible, was actually a really fabulous thing for both of us, I have since learnt. The key benefit being the creation of Vitamin D of course. However, purposely sun tanning was something else entirely.
There are really 3 options for sun tanning, whether pregnant or not:
In my opinion this is by far the best option of the three options due to the simple act of embracing the goodness offered by the sunshine! Not least of all due to the fact that you will be able to produce Vitamin D, which is known as the sunshine vitamin, but also simply because it makes you feel great. The feel good vitamin. Pregnancy and tanning = Happy mother, happy baby. Inside your womb your child responds to the life giving forces that you are providing and being emotionally upbeat is as vital as the physical attributes offered through the Vitamin D in my opinion.
More technically vitamin D actually performs more like a hormone and over the last decade or more there have been an increasing number of scientific findings highlighting the extent of the health benefits it provides. Some of these findings throw more light on the matter of pregnancy and tanning and include:
Holick has maintained for years that getting too little vitamin D is worse than getting too much. Although doctors have been taught that vitamin D is toxic in large amounts, he says, vitamin D intoxication is extremely rare and easy to treat. "Giving 4,000 IU a day to pregnant women not only doesn't cause toxicity, but may improve birth outcomes," Holick says. "The risks of vitamin D toxicity during pregnancy are overblown but the benefits are understated."
Carol L. Wagner, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, acknowledges the daily recommendation may be controversial because very high doses of vitamin D have long been believed to cause birth defects. "Any doctor who hasn't followed the literature may be wary of telling their patients to take 4,000 IU of vitamin D," she says. "But there is no evidence that vitamin D supplementation is toxic, even at levels above 10,000 IU."
Based on many findings, study researchers are recommending that pregnant women take 4,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day -- at least 10 times the amount recommended by various health groups. Depending on your skin type, you only need 10 - 30 minutes a day in midday sunlight, to obtain the equivalent of 4000 - 5000 IU's of vitamin D.
So for the rest of the time spent outdoors, make doubly sure not to get sun burnt and choose a sunscreen that is non-toxic and protects you from both the UVA rays as well as the standard UVB rays.
When considering pregnancy and tanning it is especially important to avoid excessive temperatures during your first trimester so over-doing the sunshine is a real NO.
Another area of concern where too much heat is concerned, is that later in the pregnancy cycle, excessive heat can trigger premature labour.
When considering pregnancy and tanning, sun beds may be even more dangerous than previously feared. The UVA rays, being the main type of ultraviolet light emitted by tanning devices, has been found to cause the type of DNA damage that can lead to cancer. (Tewari A, Sarkany RP and Young AR. UVA1 Induces Cyclobutane Pyrimidine Dimers but not 6-4 Photoproducts in Human Skin In Vivo. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, October 6 2011).
It is actually the UVB ray tanning bed that you should look for if you want to use a tanning salon when considering pregnancy and tanning . This means you need to look for the older type machines as they mostly use UVB rather than UVA ray lamps.
In addition, the older low density variety is better for you than the more modern, high density tanning beds as they are not so intense. It is asking for trouble if you tan under lamps that are that much stronger than the UV rays provided by the natural sun's rays. Any damage you do to yourself, will affect your baby indirectly and there really is no telling how much, so it seems a no-brainer not to damage yourself?
Self tanners contain the active agent dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ingredient works via a chemical reaction with the most superficial cells of the outer layer of your skin - the epidermis - to induce a color change. DHA has been listed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1973, and has been used in cosmetic preparations for almost 30 years. It is also approved as safe by the American Academy of Dermatology. This doesn't mean you can take it at face value that all the self tanners out there are safe and healthy for your use when you are pregnant and wanting to make sure not only your child's but your own health is secure.
DHA is actually a colorless chemical derived from glycerin, that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. Since these dead skin cells are constantly being shed, it does not penetrate into the blood or even lower levels beneath the epidermis. The color change produced by DHA usually lasts about five to seven days, but in some cases up to ten. Reapplication of a self tanner every few days afterwards, will maintain your bronzed appearance.
As DHA is not absorbed through the skin into the body and has no known toxicity, it is thought to be harmless for pregnant women to use if they would like to obtain a tan. There are other ingredients in the self tan formula that you need to check out as there are many cosmetics out there today that are proven to be using very unhealthy ingredients.
However, regardless of whether or not they contain toxic ingredients or not, many health care providers will encourage you to wait until after the first trimester to use a self tanner product, just to play it safe.
Tanning pills are not considered safe for use while pregnant. These contain canthaxanthin, which is an ingredient implicated in causing hives and drug induced hepatitis. These pills are actually not approved for sale in the United States at all.
References for Pregnancy and Tanning:
Vitamin D in Pregnancy Critical for Brain Development, Study Says Babies whose mothers had adequate Vitamin D levels appeared to do better on mental, motor tests.
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