Wait, Can A Pregnancy Sunburn Affect Your Baby Too? Here Are The Facts

Most of us know that it's important to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When we're sure we'll be exposed to the sun for extended periods of time, we come prepared with sunscreen, cover-ups, hats, and sunglasses.


Because it has become second nature for us to practice sun safety, it's one way to take care of ourselves that many of us take part in. However, there are times that we are exposed to the sun unprepared. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1 out of 3 Americans report having been sunburned each year.

Sunburns are painful reminders of our lack of preparation for sun exposure that almost all of us have endured. Red, irritated skin can be a very painful experience, making clothing uncomfortable to wear and our skin hot to the touch.

But what about those of us who have more than just ourselves to protect? Since sunburns are so painful and uncomfortable for those who get them, it begs the question of whether or not sunburns could harm our babies if we're pregnant as well.


How sun affects pregnant mothers

The good news is that sunburns only go skin deep. In most cases, if the mother gets a sunburn, the unborn baby should be just fine. However, sunburn is just one of the negative effects of being out in the sun that we worry about.


One of the major problems affecting pregnant mothers and their babies is the heat. A sunburn may make it more difficult for you to regulate your body's temperature, making heatstroke a very real concern. In severe cases, exposure to high temperatures might cause birth defects.

In addition, expectant mothers need to make sure they stay hydrated. Dehydration is a very real threat when exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Sunburns can create dehydration and fluid loss.

As stated by Physician's One, when in temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit for just ten minutes, a pregnant woman can lose as much as half of a gallon of fluid. Dehydration can increase the risk of preterm labor or birth defects. It can also lead to fainting, dizziness, or feelings of light-headedness.


How to prevent sunburns

To avoid suffering the side effects of sun exposure, there are things expectant mothers can do to prepare for time in the sun. One way to prepare is to stay hydrated. By drinking water and consuming fruits and vegetables, mothers can keep themselves and their babies safe from the inside out.


Along with using broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, opt for clothing that comes with UV protection built in. If possible, wear pants and long sleeves with lightweight, breathable fabric. Experts also recommend sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

Make sure to seek shade more than sun by bringing an umbrella or setting up your day in the sun near shelter. Ideally, try to stay out of the sun in hours of peak sunlight (typically from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

If you do end up getting overheated or start feeling dizzy, head indoors to recover as soon as you can. In addition, if you end up getting a large or severe sunburn, or one that is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, you may want to seek medical attention to make sure you and your baby are okay.


While being pregnant does add a layer of difficulty when trying to enjoy some time in the sun, you should not be afraid to do so. By being prepared with the correct clothing, sunscreen, and shade, you'll be set to reap the benefits of a beautiful day.