When you are pregnant, you have some pleasurable changes in your body like flawless and glowing skin, beautiful hair, positivity in your life, and also a few annoying signs accompany them. Stretch marks are one of those annoying changes during pregnancy. Stretch marks during pregnancy and stretch marks after pregnancy are very common. About 7 out of 10 pregnancies have stretch marks.
Most commonly, stretch marks appear in the third trimester of the pregnancy. These purple or pinkish streaks are commonly formed on the belly. They are also found on breasts, thighs, and hips. Although the stretch marks fade away on their own within a few months of delivery in many cases, they may also mature into pale white streaks in some women.
In this article, we shall discuss – what are stretch marks and how to get rid of them during and after pregnancy.
What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
Stretch marks, usually wrinkly and raised lines, commonly appear on the belly, breasts, and back. They appear due to excessive stretching of the skin as the tummy gets bigger to accommodate a growing baby during pregnancy. As the belly and pelvic muscles are naturally softened during this time to aid the ease of childbirth, the stretch marks are formed as a side effect.
Though the skin of the belly is fairly elastic, stretch marks appear due to excessive stretching and quick weight gain. Our skin has three layers. The dermis which is the middle layer has the collagen bundles. Collagen bundles are broken during this time resulting in scar signs – the stretch marks.
Do all pregnant women get stretch marks?
Not all, but 70 to 80 percent of women get stretch marks during the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. Whether you would have them or not depends on the elasticity of your skin.
Getting rid of stretch marks
You can best treat the stretch marks when they are new. Once the marks become older and fade to white color, it is very difficult to treat them.
Preventing Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
As the baby is growing, the mother’s belly skin becomes thin and itchy. This eventually develops stretch marks during pregnancy. There are a few tips that can help to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
1. Stay hydrated
One of the best tips for a healthy pregnancy is staying hydrated. It keeps your skin flexible and helps to prevent stretch marks. It is recommended to increase your water intake by at least 60 percent during pregnancy.
2. Eat healthily
Maintaining a healthy diet can prevent you from getting severe stretch marks. Along with a lot of water, intake of nutritious food containing proteins and vitamins like A, E, and C can increase the elasticity of your skin.
Eating healthy increases blood flow to your skin, promotes elasticity, and reduces dryness of the skin naturally. A healthy diet also helps in boosting the building and repairing ability of the skin resulting in the formation of new cells.
Apart from getting rid of stretch marks moisturizing skin daily also exfoliates the dry skin relieving from annoying itchy skin during pregnancy. Moisturizers containing shea butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil are the best to moisturize the skin during pregnancy. Apply the moisturizer at least once a day giving circular motion massage to keep your skin supple and soft.
4. Watch your weight gain
Weight gain is normal during pregnancy. Gaining weight gradually and slowly helps you to reduce the chances of the appearance of stretch marks. Keep a watch on the recommended weight gain and your doctor’s advice to avoid excess and quick weight gain.
5. Stay Active
Light exercise and staying active during pregnancy increase the blood flow in your body. It also helps to increase skin elasticity and regeneration of skin cells.
Hence, staying active will help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and strengthen your body.
Note- Before starting any workout, discuss with your gynecologist about the safe exercising for you during pregnancy.
Treating the stretch marks after pregnancy
Normally, stretch marks fade away naturally within a few months of delivery for many women. Sometimes is they still exist after pregnancy; they might need the treatment. There are some of the home remedies as well as medical treatments available. Let us see the effective treatments for stretch marks after pregnancy.
1. Oil massage
Oil massage helps to exfoliate the dead skin and improves blood circulation. Oils that are preferred for the massaging are olive oil, castor oil, almond oil, vitamin E oil, etc.
As mentioned earlier, exercising helps to reduce stretch marks. It tightens and strengthens the skin.
Prefer a combination of exercise, oil massage, and a healthy diet, and stretch marks will go away within a few months.
3. Chemical Peels
Also known as derma peeling, chemical peeling is a chemical method to treat stretch marks. The chemical solution containing various chemicals like trichloroacetic, glycolic, salicylic acids is applied on stretch marks. This treatment also has some side effects like discoloration of the skin.
4. Applying anti-stretch mark cream
Discuss with your gynecologist and get yourself a prescribed anti-stretch marks cream. It contains ingredients like retinol, collagen and elastin, shea butter, and a few essential vitamins and oils. Massaging with anti-stretch mark cream improves blood circulation. Moreover, this will nourish and hydrate the skin improving its elasticity and regeneration ability.
5. Laser therapy
Equally effective for all kinds- new or old- stretch marks, laser therapy is a well-known treatment for stretch marks removal. The laser treatment is effective in the permanent removal of stretch marks improving the strength and appearance of the skin. The only disadvantage of this method of treatment is its cost.
This procedure of treatment, which is not generally recommended for stretch marks removal, involves the removal of skin layers that have the stretch marks. I personally too would not recommend this as the incision scars left are even worse than the stretch marks.
Instead of going under the knife, give time to your stretch marks.
They will fade away in a few months or maybe a year. They will shade a tone or two lighter than your skin color sometimes, but you won’t be able to notice them unless you go on looking for them.
Till then you can try to reduce them and embrace them as a sign of your pregnancy.
Don’t forget to comment on which of the tips you used to get rid of stretch marks during pregnancy and stretch marks after pregnancy.