Congratulations on being pregnant – it really is one of the most exciting times in your life! But while your heart swells to a size you never imagined possible, it’s common to experience some less-than-desirable pregnancy symptoms too, like nausea, exhaustion and reflux. But one of the most common effects of pregnancy doesn’t go away after the nine months – stretch marks.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks appear when your skin is stretched during weight gain or a change in body shape, like during pregnancy. While they’re not dangerous, a lot of women are bothered by the lines, which can be dark purple, bright pink or red or even a pale silvery grey. You can get stretch marks just about anywhere but they are most common on your stomach, breasts, thighs and upper arms.
Can you prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?
It would be irresponsible of us to give you a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question: ‘Can stretch marks during pregnancy be prevented?’ While it’s understood that there’s a genetic link to stretch marks – so if your mom doesn’t have them, you might get lucky too – it’s estimated that up to 90% of women will get stretch marks by the end of their pregnancy. They might never go away completely, but stretch marks do tend to fade over time. You can, however, reduce your likelihood of getting stretch marks during pregnancy. Here’s how:
Dry skin is much more susceptible to damage so lather up! Moisturising really is the first step in preventing stretch marks during pregnancy because it supplements the skin’s natural lipid barrier, which helps skin retain moisture. So nourish your skin with creams containing fatty oils (or use the oils themselves) like coconut, argan and castor oil.
Control your weight
This is one of the most helpful (and obvious) tips you can abide by to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Stretch marks develop when your skin pulls apart quickly due to rapid weight gain. Gaining weight is expected and entirely healthy in pregnancy, but the speed at which you gain it will have an impact on whether or not you get stretch marks during your pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy weight and gaining slowly means that your chances of developing stretch marks decrease dramatically.
Drinking water is essential during pregnancy. Along with the many other well-known benefits it provides, water makes the skin soft and supple. Well-hydrated skin has a much lower chance of ‘stretching’ – resulting in stretch marks – when compared to tight skin.
Eat your colours
Eating foods that boost skin health may help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in vitamin C, D and E, zinc and protein. For example, a boiled egg on wholewheat toast is a great breakfast option. To boost the nutritional content of a smoothie, add some brightly-coloured berries and leafy green goodness. Also, be sure to eat enough quality fats from healthy sources, like pasteurised butter, coconut oil and virgin olive oil to help prevent stretch marks.
Before you get too glum about stretch marks, let’s not forget that they often fade to become less noticeable with time. Growing a baby is an incredible experience and your body is doing something utterly miraculous, so stretch marks or no stretch marks… celebrate this amazing event!