If you work hard for it, anything is possible. And that includes preventing stretch marks during pregnancy. The key to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy is consistency. As in, be consistent in what you are doing, and forget any “cheat days”.
Stretch marks look like indented streaks in your skin. They can be purple, silver, or red in appearance. Commonly, stretch marks appear on the stomach, chest, hips, bottom, and thighs.
Stretch marks are most common during pregnancy. However, they can appear during any period of your life, especially if you are losing or gaining weight rapidly.
One problem with stretch marks, they are closely related to genetics. That means if your mom or grandma had them during pregnancy, you are at higher risk. But even with increased risk, there is a way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
Why do stretch marks appear?
If you want to explain what are stretch marks in a medical way, they are small scars located in the middle layer of your skin but are visible in the top layer.
Stretch marks form when you lose weight or gain weight rapidly, or because of hormonal changes. In any case, the problem is your skin loses its ability to repair and heal itself.
Thanks to the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin, the skin has the ability to stretch and adapt. However, when your skin stretches too fast or too far, tears can happen. And your skin is not able to recover and rejuvenate on time. Despite your natural defense mechanisms, small scars can show up.
Why do stretch marks are more common during pregnancy? It is all because of the hormones in your body. During pregnancy, cortisol and estrogen reduce the effectiveness of the fibroblasts in your skin, which reduces the amount of collagen and elastin in your skin.
As a result, your skin loses its stretchiness. Add in the fact your body is growing, and you have ideal conditions for stretch marks to appear.
In addition to being pregnant, other risk factors are:
- Having a family history of stretch marks
- Gaining and losing weight quickly
- Genetic disorders such as Marfan syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome
- Having breast augmentation
- Using corticosteroids
When do stretch marks appear?
During pregnancy, stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body. However, some areas are more prone to stretch marks than others. Those include the stomach, because of the rapid growth of the baby.
Your breasts will also grow rapidly due to hormonal changes. And because your legs have to carry the weight of your body, they get swollen, so you can expect stretch marks in the buttocks and thighs.
Stretch marks can appear as early as week 6 or week 8 of your pregnancy. They continue as you grow throughout your pregnancy.
The sooner you notice stretch marks, the sooner you can try to combat them. But it is best that you try to prevent stretch marks from the day you find out you are pregnant.
Every pregnancy is different. There is no set time when stretch marks appear. In some cases, they might appear in week 28, in some in week 15.
With that in mind, here are a couple of ways to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
Top 8 Ways to Prevent Stretch Marks
Follow a healthy diet
Arguably, the most important step in preventing stretch marks during pregnancy is following a healthy diet. As we mentioned, they appear due to rapid weight gain.
Women tend to ignore their weight during pregnancy, putting it on “a baby is growing inside of me, so it is normal to gain weight”.
Many women think that the weight they gain during pregnancy will be gone once the baby is born. But even if that is true, you have rapid weight gain, then rapid weight loss, which is a recipe for stretch marks.
Balanced diet during pregnancy includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy products, and of course, prenatal vitamin to fill nutritional gaps.
Here is an idea of what you should consume:
- Foods high in antioxidants like dark chocolate, berries, red fruits, kidney beans, broccoli, green tea, sweet potato
- Vitamins sourced from green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, yeast extract, liver, saltwater fish, fruits
- Zinc from poultry, nuts, red meat, spinach, fortified cereals, cashews, dark chocolate, and Swiss cheese
- Fatty acids sourced from mackerel, salmon, other fatty fish, walnuts, soybeans, chia seeds, cod liver oil
Another way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy is to hydrate your body and skin. Keep your skin hydrated by using a soothing moisturizing balm two times per day. And focus on your entire body.
Hydrating balms help increase your skin’s elasticity and allow your skin to expand and grow without tearing.
When it comes to hydrating balms, make sure you go for one that has been proven safe for pregnant women.
In the same time, you want to keep hydration levels high from the inside. That means drinking a lot of water. You can also consume fruit juices and green tea for extra hydration and vitamin boost.
Apply a stretch mark prevention cream
Nowadays, you can find a lot of stretch mark prevention creams on the market. If you use one, remember the most important thing. And that does not put all your eggs in one basket.
Many women think they can apply a prevention cream, and forget about everything else.
For the best results, we suggest a cream with natural ingredients like shea butter, pomegranate, beeswax, or avocado peptides.
Click here to see our reviews for best stretch mark creams on the market.
Get out in the sun
In other words, get some vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with stretch marks. While the studies are not complete, it is safe to say that you can do no wrong with extra vitamin D.
Vitamin D is crucial for the health of your skin. And the best way to get is to go out in the sun, but be careful not to burn. Do not go outside during extreme temperatures, which are between 11 am and 5 pm.
Exfoliate once per week
Exfoliation is another important step in the process of preventing stretch marks. Without exfoliation, all of the massaging with moisturizing oil will do nothing well.
Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. In the same time, exfoliation promotes the growth of new skin cells, all of which keep your skin soft and stretch mark-free.
Whether you try a natural exfoliating agent or something from the store, it is your choice.
Massage, massage, and more massage
Applying a moisturizer or a stretch mark prevention mark takes a minute or two. But as we mentioned in the beginning, the key to success is effort and consistency. That means to spend 10 more minutes of massaging oils and creams into your skin, and will gain more benefits.
Massaging pushes the cream deeply into your skin where it does more good, breaks up any stretch marks, helps improve circulation and direct blood to the skin, and keeps the skin elastic.
Control your weight
This might be easier said than done. A healthy diet is just one way to control your weight. Be careful what you consume, try to exercise if possible, or at least walk. Do not fall into the trap of lying around the home whole day, and expect miracles.
Last, but not least, we suggest a couple of home remedies to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. All of these remedies can be used for massage or as a moisturizing oil.
Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer, contains vitamin E, fatty acids, and more nutrients that contribute to healthy skin. Massage it after a shower until it is fully absorbed.
Olive oil also contains vitamin E, but also a huge range of antioxidants that help with the healing process of your skin. Use it both as a prevention measure and a remedy for stretch marks.
Aloe vera is the best natural remedy for skin issues. Make sure to use the natural gel from aloe vera plants, which is rich in enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.