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If you’re looking for ways to reduce the appearance fo pregnancy stretch marks you’re in the right place.
Sometimes pregnancy not only comes with a baby but also with stretch marks. And it’s not like you have a choice, unfortunately. If you get pregnancy stretch marks, you get them.
Pregnancy stretch marks are the classic souvenir of your challenging maternity journey. Your baby is not born yet and already leaving marks on you.
Though there is no miracle cure or overnight treatment, there are things you can do to help reduce pregnancy stretch marks.
STRETCH MARKS OVERVIEW
The scientific name for stretch marks is striae distensae or striae gravidarum (if they happen during pregnancy). Stretch marks are not harmful but they may be annoying., mainly for women.
Anybody can develop stretch marks not only pregnant women. For example, teenagers may get stretch marks during their growth spurts. But in this post, we’re going to focus on pregnancy stretch marks.
Nine out of ten pregnant women experience stretch marks usually around 13 weeks to 21 weeks (when the baby starts to rapidly grow).
So it’s quite common among pregnant women, but experts say that stretch marks have to do with genetics as well. For example, if you’re mom had them, you’re more likely to develop them.
Generally, dark-skinned women are less likely to develop stretch marks than fair-skinned ones.
STRETCH MARKS RISK FACTORS
You are more susceptible to develop stretch marks if:
- you are female
- have a family history of stretch marks (genetics)
- are overweight
- are pregnant
- experience rapid weight gain or weight loss
- use of corticosteroids
- have breast augmentation
- have genetic disorders (like Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome)
STRETCH MARKS CAUSES
Stretch marks appear when collagen and elastin overstretch and snap. That means your body grows too fast and your skin cannot keep up with it, so end up with stretch marks.
With a rapid weight gain and a growing belly, it’s very easy for that to happen and get pregnancy stretch marks. You usually see them around your stomach, breasts, thighs, bottom or hips.
New stretch marks are somehow pinkish/reddish (but depending on your skin tone stretch marks’ colors may vary: red, yellow, tan, purple, brown) and that’s actually the best moment for you to take any action.
You must try to reduce their appearance when they’re new, otherwise, it’s going to be a very difficult job later on.
Some say that pregnancy hormones may contribute to the appearance of stretch marks. Pregnancy hormones may cause water retention and bring more water into the skin.
This will eventually relax the skin and make it easier to tear upon stretching.
PREGNANCY STRETCH MARKS TREATMENT
Like I said earlier, you can’t prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Since you can quite prevent them, you can at least attempt to reduce their appearance.
Here are 10 steps you can follow to help reduce the appearance of pregnancy stretch marks.
1. USE MOISTURIZER
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant you better start moisturizing those high-risk areas with a rich lotion or cream: belly, breasts, lower back, hips.
You want to avoid those skin fibers to break apart so a moisturizer will help your skin maintain its elasticity.
Start doing this early in your pregnancy to reduce your chances of getting pregnancy stretch marks when your body starts expanding. You can do it in the morning, throughout the day and before bedtime.
Worst case scenario and your moisturizer does nothing for your stretch marks, it will help you at least with the dry and itchy skin associated with pregnancy.
2. OIL MASSAGE
You may benefit from constant oil massages. Not the massage you get at the spa. I’m talking about you massaging the high-risk areas mentioned above with oil.
Massaging your skin will stimulate blood flow and break up the scar tissue caused by stretch marks.
For maximum effect, you can create a routine and massage your skin after a warm shower/bath so your pores open up and soak up the oil.
3. KEEP A NUTRIENT-RICH DIET
Getting your nutrients from the inside is always better. Poor nutrition will increase your chances of getting pregnancy stretch marks.
You need to have a healthy diet for the sake fo your baby anyways, so why not? To help you with skin tone eat foods rich in:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D – the easiest way to get it is through sun exposure, if not stock up on dairy products
- Vitamin E
- Zinc – helps with inflammation and wound healing; nuts and fish are a good source
4. FOCUS ON VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is known for its role in helping with skin elasticity and collagen production.
It’s famous for reducing wrinkles, so it would not be a bad idea at all to try to use it against pregnancy stretch marks. I can already see you shopping for oranges and lemons.
5. TRY TO GAIN WEIGHT SLOWLY
Your scale will become your new friend. You don’t have one? You should get one. It will serve you during and after pregnancy (we all dread losing that baby weight).
Watching your weight gain is the best thing you can do. Gaining weight steadily and slowly may help you keep your stretch marks at a minimum.
It goes the other way around too: you may also get stretch marks with rapid weight loss.
Experts say that a pregnant woman should gain between 25-35 pounds. I gained 50 pounds, so my body obviously didn’t follow that recommendation.
Eating for two doesn’t necessarily mean eating twice as much. Check your weight every day so you can keep a close eye and know exactly how much and how fast you’re gaining weight.
6. EXERCISE TO IMPROVE MUSCLE TONE
Light exercise like walking or yoga will strengthen your muscles. Of course, you have many more options: swimming, running, pilates, etc. Always consult with your doctor and decide what’s safe for you.
7. STAY HYDRATED
Drink a lot of water. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. When you drink enough water and are hydrated your skin shows it.
Hydrated, soft skin is less susceptible to get stretch marks as opposed to dry skin, because it repairs itself more efficiently.
Pregnant women should drink at least ten 8 ounces cups of liquids daily. These liquids can be exclusively water or coffee, tea, soda, etc.
If you’re a coffee lover (like me) you won’t like this but they actually say that coffee increases your chances of developing stretch marks. I leave it up to you.
8. BE PATIENT
No overnight miracles, remember? Don’t let some stretch marks take away the joy of being pregnant. Focus on your well being and make sure your baby stays healthy until you deliver (and after).
9. USE A STRETCH MARKS FIRMING GEL
It won’t hurt trying a firming gel. Stretch marks tend to be more obvious on soft skin so a firming gel with a skin-tightening effect might help with their appearance.
10. MORE SERIOUS TREATMENT OPTIONS
- Retinoid Cream – it has vitamin A which may help reduce fresh stretch marks, by speeding up cell turnover and rebuilding collagen. Talk to your doctor if it’s safe to use during or even after your pregnancy (it’s usually not safe if you’re breastfeeding).
- Laser Therapy – may stimulate collagen and shrink blood vessels to help with your skin elasticity.
- Glycolic Acid – chemical peels won’t help you prevent new stretch marks, but they will help you lessen the appearance of the ones you already got
POSTPARTUM STRETCH MARKS
I kept the good news for you until the very end. After delivery, your pregnancy stretch marks tend to fade away and may not even be that noticeable anymore (they have a silvery gray color).
Until then, wear them with pride.
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