If you want to spend a peaceful afternoon in the sun while you're pregnant, you can! Just make sure you take care of yourself.

Why Sun Safety Matters

During pregnancy, your skin can become more sensitive due to hormonal changes. This means you might be more prone to sunburns, heat rashes and conditions like melasma, which causes dark patches on the skin. 

Top Tips for Sun Safety

  1. Seek Shade: When the sun is at its strongest, typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., it’s best to stay in the shade. Whether it’s under a tree, an umbrella, or a wide-brimmed hat, finding a cool spot can help you avoid overexposure.

  2. Wear Suncream: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply it generously to all exposed skin, and don’t forget areas like the tops of your ears, back of your neck and your feet if exposed. Reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Pregnancy can increase your body’s need for water, especially in hot weather. Carry a water bottle with you and take regular sips to stay hydrated. This helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you feeling well. Many women who attend their Maternity Unit with a reduction in their baby's movements find they're dehydrated, so staying hydrated is key.

  4. Wear Protective Clothing: Lightweight, loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves and long trousers can protect your skin from the sun’s rays. Fabrics like cotton are breathable and help keep you cool. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses to shield your face and eyes.

Dealing with Sunburn

If you do get sunburnt, it’s important to treat it gently:

  • Cool Down: Take a cool bath or shower to soothe your skin.
  • Moisturise: Apply a moisturiser with aloe vera to help ease the discomfort.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your skin heal.
  • Avoid Further Sun Exposure: Keep out of the sun until your skin has fully healed.

Understanding Melasma

Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” is a condition where dark patches appear on your face. Exposure to the sun will make your pregnancy mask more pronounced. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your face all day, every day, even if you’re not going outside, since harmful rays can come right through your windows. If you’re concerned about skin changes during your pregnancy, your GP or midwife can offer advice and reassurance.

Enjoying the Outdoors

While it’s important to be cautious, you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. Fresh air and light exercise can be beneficial during pregnancy. Just remember to take breaks in the shade, keep hydrated, and listen to your body. If you feel overheated or dizzy, it’s time to cool down and rest.

More Resources

NHS website

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