Is it safe to tan while pregnant?

Pregnant woman taking a sunbath at the swimming pool
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Almost everyone likes the way they look with a tan, and pregnant women are no different. Unfortunately, tanning could be harmful to an unborn baby. We all know the risks of sun exposure and the importance of wearing sunscreen -- after all, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. That alone should be reason enough to stay away from the tanning bed, but you might be surprised to find out that there's a more important reason to avoid tanning while you're pregnant.

Think for a second about the last time you used a tanning bed. Did you feel hot and uncomfortable at any point during your session? The answer is probably, "Yes." Now imagine how your baby must feel. If you're hot on the outside, you're probably hot on the inside. That can't be good for you or your baby, especially in the later stages of your pregnancy. In fact, exposing your baby to that type of heat could lead to a number of complications, including spinal malformation and spinal bifida, to name a few [source: American Pregnancy Association]. It's not worth it.


There are people who will argue that sun exposure is vital to vitamin D production and therefore important for a pregnant woman. This is true, but it's healthy only in small doses, and you don't need much to fill your daily allowance. A nice walk outside should suffice.

At the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry. You're going to be pregnant for only nine months, after all. In the meantime, maintain a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Take in the sun in small doses and always, always, always wear sunscreen.

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  • American Pregnancy Association. "What's a Sun Goddess to do During Pregnancy: Pregnancy & Tanning." (accessed 08/31/2009)
  • Levis, Sophia. "Can I go to the tanning salon while pregnant?" Amazing Pregnancy. (accessed 08/05/2009)
  • The Skin Cancer Foundation. "Skin Cancer Facts." 2009. (accessed 08/05/2009)