During pregnancy, women should be especially cautious about sun exposure because it can cause overheating and dehydration, says Millard H. Zisser, M.D., an emeritus assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a dermatologist in private practice.
You should always wear sunscreen and stay in the shade when possible. Ultraviolet (UV) rays also can make your skin more prone to chloasma, dark splotches on the face or arms that sometimes occur during pregnancy.
Being pregnant is no reason to miss out on outdoor activities, but you need to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your baby. That’s because ordinarily minor nuisances can become major medical problems if you’re not careful. These tips from Fung Lam, M.D., and Bonni Massa, M.D., both OB-GYNs in San Francisco, will help keep you safe.
1. Dehydration, heat exhaustion
(increased risk of preterm labor)
Prevention Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, more if it’s very hot or you’re sweating a lot; sit in shade.
Red flags Dizziness, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, contractions
What to do Rehydrate with water and juices; rest in the shade. If symptoms continue, call doctor or go to the ER.
2. Insect bites
(potential exposure to Lyme disease or West Nile virus; both can infect fetus)
Prevention Use insect repellent with 10 percent DEET (maximum concentration considered safe during pregnancy).
Red flags Lyme: fatigue, chills/fever, headache, muscle/joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, red circular rash. West Nile: fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, rash
What to do Benadryl or Caladryl ointment for itching; hydrogen peroxide to prevent local infection; contact doctor if you develop disease symptom
3. Falling and trauma to belly
Prevention Avoid horseback riding, tennis, volleyball, soccer, diving, surfing and rowing.
Red flags Contractions, vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid
What to do Call doctor or go to the ER.