A woman’s body goes through certain changes during pregnancy. Stretch marks are one of them. When they first start appearing during pregnancy, you may be bothered by their appearance. You start wondering how to prevent pregnancy stretch marks from forming. Let’s find out what causes stretch marks and what are the best ways to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy.
What is Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
Pregnancy stretch marks mostly appear on the abdomen in the later stages of pregnancy to accommodate a growing baby. They often appear on the buttocks, thighs, hips, and breasts.
It’s estimated that around 70 to 80 percent of women get stretch marks as a result of puberty, pregnancy, or weight gain. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 90% of women get stretch marks sometime after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.
While stretch marks are common during pregnancy, some women are more susceptible to them than others.
Risk Factors for Pregnancy Stretch Marks
It’s hard to predict why some women are more likely to develop stretch marks. However, there are some risk factors that increase your chances of getting stretch marks.
Research suggests that genetics and race play a role. If you have a family history of stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them.
In addition, the elasticity of your skin plays a role in developing stretch marks during pregnancy. Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Gaining or losing weight quickly during and after pregnancy
- Having an excessive amniotic fluid
- Carrying big or multiple babies
- Having breast augmentation
Stretch marks are developed when your skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The abrupt changes in the skin cause a rupture in collagen and elastin, which are the supportive tissue of our skin. They might be pink, reddish-brown, purple, or dark brown, depending on your skin color. They can also cause itchy skin while they develop.
So, what can you do to stop pregnancy stretch marks?
Best Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Age and genetics play a huge role in determining whether you will get stretch marks or not. But still, it doesn’t mean you cannot avoid pregnancy stretch marks.
You can do certain things to reduce your chance of developing pregnancy stretch marks.
Massage Your Skin
Maintaining the maximum elasticity of your skin is vital in preventing stretch marks during pregnancy. You can achieve that by keeping your skin moisturized throughout pregnancy. This way, your chances of getting stretch marks are slim to none.
You can start using some best body oil early in your pregnancy. Some oil works well and isn’t crazy expensive. One particular oil which even some therapists recommend is Vitamin E capsules or oil. You can mix Vitamin E oil with Cocoa Butter lotion and rub it onto your stretch marks. The secret is to put it on all over your tummy, thighs, breasts, and arms (anywhere you’d possibly get stretch marks). While you’re still sopping wet, rub it all over, then pat your skin dry with a towel.
Vitamin E is used in many stretch mark creams, so it’s safe to use during pregnancy. However, you should practice precautions before taking any vitamin supplements. If you want to use an anti-stretch marks cream or oil, make sure it’s safe to use during pregnancy. Learn more about the product and talk to your midwife or doctor if possible.
Keep Your Weight in Check
One of the most important things you can accomplish to prevent pregnancy stretch marks is to keep a healthy weight. During pregnancy, it’s natural to gain a certain amount of weight. Ask your doctor or nurse about how much weight you should gain and try to stay close to that. Gaining excess weight during pregnancy can cause stretch marks as well as cause birth complications. Hence, it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Remaining active during and after pregnancy can reduce the risk of developing stretch marks. Learn about some safe exercises during pregnancy and find out what works best for you. You can even practice prenatal yoga taught by a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Exercising and eating healthy can help you maintain an ideal weight.
Eat Healthy Diets
Eating healthy diets can help support the health, wellness, and overall elasticity of the skin. It is also important to eat a variety of foods to nourish your growing baby. Choose meals that include vitamins, protein, fiber, and some healthy fat.
Make sure your meal includes foods rich in:
- Vitamin C
- Folic Acid
- B Vitamins
Proper research, planning, and tracking will help you eat well during pregnancy. If you need help with your pregnancy diet plan, seek the help of a registered dietitian.
Drinking enough water is essential to prevent pregnancy stretch marks. The Institute of Medicine advises pregnant women to drink approximately 2 liters of water each day. Some nutritionists suggest adding more for each hour of light activity.
Many experts recommend that you limit caffeine and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. You can eat fruits with high water content – like grapefruit, oranges, apples, berries, pears, and plums. Everybody has a different level of hydration. You can actually do a decent amount of harm if you overload your body with water. Pay attention to your urine; that’s the best way to determine if you’re properly hydrated.
Include Vitamin Rich Foods in Your Diet
When you are pregnant, the body’s need for essential nutrients increases many times to sustain both the mother and child. Vitamins E, C, and A promote the growth of elastin and collagen, which are vital for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. You should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, including at least one food rich in vitamin C. Fruits and Vegetables with the highest sources of vitamin C include:
- Red peppers
Drink Green Tea
Green tea can be a safeguard for your skin cells. The researchers at the University of Manchester found that the key ingredient in green tea prevents pregnancy stretch marks by calming red, angry skin.
Pregnant women can take green tea internally and externally. The best way to use green tea is to apply it externally. This can be done in the form of stretch mark creams containing green tea or rubbing green tea bags over the stretch marks. Drinking green tea is also helpful to prevent stretch marks as well. Keep a limit to how much you drink each day. Nutritionists usually recommend less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about two or three cups of green tea.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for healthy skin. It’s also important for the baby’s development. You should eat and drink that provides you with some vitamin D. You can often get a good amount of vitamin D from sun exposure. Make sure you wear sunscreen and take other protective measures.
Some good sources of vitamin D are:
- Red meat
- Egg Yolks
Eat Foods That are High in Zinc
Getting enough zinc is especially important for pregnancy stretch marks. Doctors usually recommend taking 11mg of zinc daily during pregnancy. This essential mineral supports rapid cell growth during pregnancy. It also helps support your immune system and grows and repairs body tissues.
Meat, especially red meat, is a good source of this nutrient. You can also get it from seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and dairy products. Here are some best foods that are rich in zinc.
- Dungeness crab
Increase Your Silica and Omega-3 Intake
Silica is absolutely vital for healthy skin during pregnancy. Silica helps promote collagen creation and skin hydration. It also boosts the skin’s flexibility, eventually reducing stretch marks.
You’ll find oats, barley, rice bran, wheat bran, leafy green veg, mango, and buckwheat, all fantastic silica sources. Omega-3 also helps pregnant women to keep their skin soft, moist, and supple. They are particularly helpful in preventing pregnancy stretch marks. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:
Focus on Reducing the Stretch Marks
Preventing pregnancy stretch marks is really up to your skin type and its elasticity. Therefore, a slow and steady approach is the best strategy for preventing stretch marks.
As there is no cure for stretch marks, all you can do is fade them. Focus on fading the stretch marks so that they become less visible in the long run. The best time to treat pregnancy stretch marks is while they’re still in the early stage. Keeping your skin hydrated with a pregnancy stretch marks cream or lotion is always a good idea. They will make your skin more toned and helps the itchiness. You can also make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss your options.
Pregnancy stretch marks are a huge change during pregnancy. Even if you have a higher risk of developing stretch marks, it’s worth a try in any way possible.