Does Everyone Get Stretch Marks?Stretch marks are the number one complaint from new moms. Which makes sense, since between fifty and ninety percent of pregnancies result in stretch marks. They occur most often during the last trimester because the body can’t keep up with the body growing at such a rapid rate. Stretch marks can form at any stage of the pregnancy. The skin gets thinner as the belly gets larger and the skin stretches beyond its limit as the scars form deep in the skin’s layers. There may also be a genetic component to getting stretch marks. If a family member has stretch marks and is a healthy weight you might be more susceptible. Genetics can also play a role into how dark and pronounced stretch marks become. These marks may be noticeable, however, they are not harmful. Often when the skin is stretching it can become itchy and sore. However, this itchiness fades as the stretch marks form. Many moms find the stretch marks to be en eyesore. However, there are ways to remove and prevent these marks from forming.
Drink WaterOne of the best ways to keep stretch marks at bay is to stay hydrated. Drinking around twelve cups of water per day can keep the skin supple. However, this may be more difficult for women who are experiencing morning sickness. During those bouts of nausea, don’t push yourself to consume more water. Just take small sips so you do not become dehydrated. Also, water is the best fluid for you and your skin.
Avoid CoffeeDrinking caffeine can dehydrate your skin and you will have to drink more water to replace it. However, soups, fruit, milk, and decaffeinated teas can increase water levels in the body. Drink up! If it is hard for you to drink enough water, try adding fresh berries, lemons or limes to the water for a little healthy flavor. Also, try keeping a visual representation of the amount of water you need to drink daily around. For example, filling up water bottles with the full amount so you can slowly drink water throughout the day.
Watch Your DietDiet is incredibly important during pregnancy for a healthy baby and skin. Experts recommend eating a balanced healthy diet full of antioxidants, vitamins, zinc, and fatty acids. Food with these qualities can help maintain healthy skin as the body goes through a series of changes. Experts recommend eating foods like dark chocolate, berries, broccoli, and green tea. These foods will be especially helpful in maintaining skin health. When experiencing morning sickness, it may be hard to eat healthy food. Try incorporating small bites with lots of water to help wash the acid out of your throat and help keep the nausea at bay.
Keep Weight Gain in CheckAnother important step for healthy skin during the pregnancy is managing the amount of weight gained. Weight gain is inevitable, however, many women grossly overestimate the amount of food they need for a healthy pregnancy. Experts agree that eating between two and three hundred extra calories a day is sufficient for a healthy pregnancy. Now obviously, this amount will need to be increased if you are carrying twins or multiples. Talk to your doctor about specific dietary needs for your pregnancy. If you have health conditions such as diabetes, you may need to be more closely monitored during your pregnancy.
Vitamin DSome research studies, including a study by Koehler Zanella found that there was a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and the occurrence of stretch marks. Although, there is more research needed – including vitamin D in your healthy diet would be a good idea. Just make sure to steer clear of unpasteurized soft cheese such as Brie and feta. These cheeses have the possibility of transmitting Listeria to the mother. And pregnant women are at an increased risk of coming down with food poisoning, so avoid eating questionable food. The easiest way to get vitamin D is to absorb sunlight. However, it is important to note that pregnant women are more susceptible to sun burn. So make sure to apply sunblock that is at least SPF 30 when planning on going in the sun.
Vitamin CVitamin C will also be an important vitamin to add to your pregnancy diet. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is made up the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. Collagen keeps the skin strong and elastic, giving skin the ability to bounce back. Collagen also helps the body’s connective tissue, skin, hair, and nails. The body looses collagen as it ages so the older a woman is when they become pregnant the harder it is for the skin to bounce back. In recent years collagen became a popular supplement. It can also be taken in the form of a powder or pill to boost collagen production in the body. However, as with all supplements, make sure to read the ingredients and make sure that there are no harmful chemicals in the supplement that could harm the baby. Choose a product with as few ingredients as possible and double check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.
ZincAnother thing to include in a healthy diet during pregnancy is zinc. Zinc helps keep the skin healthy by regulating the activity of oils glands, promotes a healthy immune system and healing of the skin. Zinc is also a type of antioxidant that can help prevent free radicals in the skin. As usual, before adding any supplements to your diet be sure to talk to your Doctor about your specific health conditions and concerns.
Mousiturize!The most commonly mentioned way to prevent stretch marks is to moisturize the skin while pregnant. This is an incredibly smart idea. Massage oils, creams, and lotion in areas that are likely to develop stretch marks. These products help hydrate the skin, make the tissue more resilient, and aids in the healing process. The most effective products will contain Shea butter, vitamin E, and aloe era. Apply these products liberally throughout the pregnancy and after giving birth. This will give your skin the best chance at avoiding stretch marks and lessening the severity of any that develop. Moisturizing post-birth is also important for reducing the color of the linea nigra or black line many pregnant women develop during pregnancy. Keeping this area moisturized can help this line fade quickly and keep your skin healthy.
Keep an eye on the ingredientsAnother important thing to keep in mind is the ingredient in the creams and lotions you apply during pregnancy. There are often great natural alternatives to synthetic products. One example of this is coconut oil. Coconut oil is cheaper than fancy creams and can be safely applied to the entire body. This oil absorbs quickly and does not clog the pores. This oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, moisturize the body, and help heal wounds. It also contains medium chain fatty acids that possess antimicrobial properties that prevent fugal and bacteria infections. Experts believe that virgin coconut oil is the best choice. Apply the oil to the body up to three times a day for the biggest payoff.
Olive OilAnother oil to consider is olive oil. Olive oil is thicker than coconut oil so it takes longer to absorb into the skin. This oil contains vitamin E, which can help the skin repair and heal. After thoroughly washing the skin, apply extra virgin olive oil to the skin of the breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs, and back. Rub the oil into the skin until it absorbs. Not waiting long enough for the oil to absorb can create stains on articles of clothing. Be careful and try to wait ten minutes for the oil to absorb before dressing.
Aloe VeraAloe Vera is another natural product that is well known for it’s soothing and healing properties. This gel contains enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids, which aid in restoring the skin and preventing stretch mark. If you would like the healing benefits of aloe Vera without the preservatives associated with many store bought creams, just purchase an Aloe Vera plant. Cut a section of the leaf and work the gel from the top of the leaf out from the bottom. Apply the gel like any other lotion twice a day. One thing to keep in mind is that many people are actually allergic to Aloe Vera. If you develop an itchy rash where you apply the cream discontinue using the gel and talk to your dermatologist about what else you might be allergic to.
Stretch Mark CreamsThere are many store-bought lotions that claim to prevent stretch marks. Be careful to read the ingredient labels of any and all creams and avoid ingredients you do not understand. Lotions that promote collagen production are useful to prevent marks by increasing the skin’s elasticity and strength. Another, great property to look for is elastin enhancers. They replenish elastin fibers in the skin, which can be lost or damaged when the skin stretches rapidly. Some great creams that have been shown to help include the Body Merry Stretch Marks and Scar Cream, Fierce Stretch Mark and Scar Cream by Smooth Rx, and the TCM Scar and Acne Gel.
Bio Oil and Vitamin E OilAnother skin care item to include in your pregnancy routine is Bio Oil. Bio Oil is the world’s leading scar and stretch mark product. It is a combination of plant extracts and vitamins in oil. Bio Oil is formulated to improve the appearance of stretch marks. This lightweight oil should be massaged in a circular motion into the stretch marks twice daily for a minimum of three months to see results. For pregnant women, apply the bio oil twice per day for the duration of the pregnancy and for a few months after birth to see the full results. Another oil that can prevent or lessen the severity of stretch marks is 100% Natural Vitamin E oil. This oil delivers powerful antioxidants to the skin that provide resistance against damage and stretching. When blended with avocado oil, vitamin E becomes less sticky and more likely to penetrate the skin quickly. During pregnancy massage the oil all over the stretch mark prone areas twice daily. Take caution when dressing after applying the oil as it can cause staining to clothes. Lastly, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E is a highly effective at preventing scarring during pregnancy. This thick cream provides deep hydration melting into the skin to provide a barrier that locks in moisture. This moisture barrier helps prevent the formation of stretch marks and allows red and purple stretch marks to fade to a white or silver color. For the best results apply the lotion at least once at night and allow the formula to soak into the skin.
Writer, Product Tester.
Adele is a budding content writer with a passion for all things health and fitness related. In her time off Adele enjoys reading, travelling and exploring Sydney’s culinary delights.