Although it is a rather sensitive subject for many of us moms or mothers-to-be, stretch marks will most probably appear on our bodies during pregnancy. They are just one of the many physical changes we can notice after we get pregnant. Stretch marks usually appear somewhere around 13 to 21 weeks of pregnancy, or sometimes a few days or weeks after the baby is born.
What are stretch marks and how do they look?
Stretch marks are pink, red, sometimes even purple streaks that appear across your belly, butt, thighs, hips, and breasts during pregnancy or right after birth. They fade over time and usually become silvery. Their cause is the fact that your body grows very rapidly and your skin cannot keep up with it. Therefore, the elastic fibers under the surface of the skin start to break, resulting in stretch marks. They are actually very small tears in the supporting layers of tissue right under your skin as it is pulled tight during pregnancy to accommodate the growing belly. Stretch marks are supposed to have a lot to do with genetics. So, if your mother had them, you are prone to them, either. It is also considered that women with darker skin have smaller chances to get stretch marks than the ones with a light skin tone (stretch marks are more visible on light skin).
How can you prevent stretch marks?
Make changes in your diet
Stretch marks happen when you gain a lot of weight very fast. Therefore, a solution to this problem is gaining weight gradually. To do this, be sure to follow your doctor’s guidelines regarding your diet. Eat healthy meals rich in antioxidants (spinach, strawberries), foods containing vitamin E, which protects skin cell membranes (nuts, broccoli, avocado), vitamin A, which repairs skin tissues (carrots, potato, squash, mango) and omega 3, which keeps the cell membranes healthy and make your skin glow (fish oil, eggs, walnuts). “Eating for two” during pregnancy is actually nothing more than a myth. It is not the quantity you eat during pregnancy that is important, but the quality of the food. So, try to eat as healthy as possible and have a balanced intake of nutrients and vitamins for you and your baby. I’ve heard of wrinkle cream working also to help the skin with nutrients. Don’t forget about the prenatal multivitamins and folic acid.
Massage your skin with moisturisers and creams
To maintain a healthy and beautiful, glowing skin during pregnancy, you need to reconsider your skincare routine. Many of the skincare products you used before may no longer be safe during this period. You need to learn what products are safe for you and your baby.
To hydrate and keep your skin elastic, it is important to use a moisturizer on your belly, lower back, sides, thighs, legs or anywhere else you think you might get stretch marks. To do this safely, try to avoid creams that contain chemical ingredients and choose skincare products that are made specifically for pregnant women, or even better, choose natural oils or butters. Almond Oil, Coconut Oil or Chalendula Oil are some of the best oil choices, while Organic Shea Butter or Raw Cocoa Butter are great natural butter choices.
Besides hydrating your skin, you can also massage it gently with a dry brush made from natural fibers designed specifically to exfoliate the skin, keeping it healthy, and to improve your blood flow.
Hydration is considered to be a key factor during pregnancy. Dehydration can lead to complications such as dizziness, nausea, morning sickness, acidity and heartburn, headaches, cramps or oedema and, in the third trimester, it can even trigger contractions and preterm labour. You should try to drink at least 8 to 12 glasses of water a day to avoid all the above situations and keep your skin elastic and supple during these 9 months. It is better and actually highly recommended that you use a Water Filter Dispenser or a Water Filter Pitcher to the detriment of bottled water. Bottled water is not a very good option for several reasons: it costs more, the chemicals from the plastic bottle can leech into the water, water bottles are a major source of consumer waste each year and the bottled water itself is really no different than tap water, in most cases.
Exercise regularly during pregnancy
Working out during pregnancy has various benefits, not only for the elasticity of your skin, but for your whole body. Low-impact exercises, as pregnancy yoga or low-impact aerobics or pilates, reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling and may help prevent, and sometimes treat, gestational diabetes. Walking, brisk walking, stationary bicycling and swimming are safe and great alternatives. Remember, you must consult your physician before you exercise during pregnancy. If you plan to exercise outdoors, make sure you always have a bottle of water with you to avoid dehydration.
Is there any stretch mark treatment?
No matter how well you take care of your skin during pregnancy, sometimes you end up with a few stretch marks. Unfortunately, once they appear, they stay. Stretch marks are permanent. Fortunately, they become paler, less noticeable in time and, luckily, there are a few treatments and therapies than can make stretch marks fade and offer a more pleasant aspect to your skin.
Stretch mark removal cream
There are all kinds of stretch mark removal creams on the market, from natural butters, to skincare oils or scar fading creams. They work well on reducing the ugly look of the stretch marks, making them fade.
Laser stretch mark removal
This kind of treatment is quite expensive but it offers great results. It is a nonsurgical approach that rapidly offers a smoother and clearer skin. It works on stretch marks on all parts of your body without harming surrounding skin. Laser stretch removal is a FDA-cleared treatment that is well tolerated by most of the women. The procedure can be performed in as little as 30 minutes with minimal discomfort.
Homemade recipes and natural treatment
There are a few homemade recipes which can improve the look of your skin, like lemon juice, egg whites, sugar or potato juice. Castor oil and aloe vera are also effective in the treatment of stretch marks. These do not guarantee that your stretch marks will disappear. However they represent simple ways to lessen the stretch marks and to restore your skin cells.
Some women are lucky and don’t get stretch marks during or after pregnancy. If you’re not one of them, don’t worry… you’re not alone! Just think about the wonderful being who grew in your belly!