Because it only goes skin deep, a sunburn during pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, severe sunburns can cause troublesome side effects that could affect your baby. Before you head out for a day of fun in the sun, learn why you should take precautions.
By impacting your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, a sunburn can leave you at a higher risk for heat-related health problems such as heatstroke. In certain instances, temperature increases can lead to birth defects, especially if they occur before the embryo implants. Usually, this is more commonly associated with high fevers; however, a severe sunburn could cause similar effects.
Cramping and Dehydration
By causing fluid loss, sunburns can promote dehydration. An expecting mother can lose up to a half-gallon of fluid when exposed to temperatures over 90 degrees F for only ten minutes. By increasing body temperature, dehydration can promote the risk preterm labor or miscarriage due to premature uterine contractions. Fluid loss can also increase the risk of fainting, dizziness and light-headedness, which can result in dangerous falls.
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the sun. That said, you should take the following precautions to reduce your risk of problems:
- Wear sunscreen
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Shield your face and head by wearing a hat
- Avoid peak temperatures
- Sit as much as possible
- Go indoors if you start to feel woozy
When to Seek Help
Severe sunburns require medical attention, especially if you develop blisters. Similar to any other burn, sunburns can cause significant pain and dehydration. In some cases, patients lose the ability to sweat, while their burns heal. This can further complicate matters, especially for expecting mothers. If you’ve suffered a severe sun burn, visit your physician for an evaluation. You may require intravenous fluids and other treatments to lower your body temperature and protect your unborn child.