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Quick Dose: How Long Can Pregnant Women Stay Out In the Sun?

Expectant moms should stay out of the sun and avoid tanning beds, especially during the first trimester.

Pregnant women are more likely to overheat and tend to have more sensitive skin, making you more susceptible to burning, hives, heat rash and chloasma (dark splotchy skin).

Exposure to the sun during pregnancy has been linked to decreased amounts of folic acid, which is needed for your baby’s growth and development. The lack of folic acid can increase the risk for spina bifida and other birth defects.

If you’re going to be out in the sun, protect yourself with sunscreen, and be sure to wear a hat, long sleeves and sunglasses. (Sunscreen isn’t harmful for your baby, so use a “broad-spectrum” mineral-based sunscreen with an SPF of 30.) Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and avoid the sun between the peak hours of 10 am and 3 pm.

There are other ways to get a summer glow, but use caution. Tanning solutions in lotion form are safer, but not until the second trimester. Avoid spray-on tans, which may carry respiratory risks for you and your baby.

Micah Garb, MD, Northwestern Medical Group, medical director of Women’s Health Services, North Region