Pregnancy stretch marks, are the lines that develop on the abdomen, as well as on other areas of the body, due to rapid expansion of the uterus as well as sudden weight gain during pregnancy. Stretch marks essentially appear to be caused by stretching of the skin. About 90% of pregnant women are affected. Stretch marks can pink, red, purple or brown, depending on your skin colour.
You’ll most likely start to notice stretch marks on your stomach (and elsewhere) around the end of the second trimester into the beginning of the third trimester, when you’re between 6 and 7 months pregnant. Stretch marks most often appear on the stomach, chest, hips, bottom and thighs.
Here are some tips to help prevent or reduce stretch marks during pregnancy:
- Try to manage your weight – Most women can expect to gain between 10-15 kilograms over their pregnancy. The best way for you to prevent stretch marks is to gain pregnancy weight slowly and steadily. Rapid weight gain during pregnancy can increase the risk of stretch marks.
- Use a moisturizer – Applying moisturizers regularly to your belly, breasts, and other areas that may be prone to stretch marks can help keep your skin soft and supple. Look for products that contain ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, or vitamin E.
- Keep up your hydration levels – Soft skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does. Drinking plenty of water can help keep your skin hydrated and more elastic, which may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
- Enrich your diet with healthy skin foods – There are no studies that link diet with stretch marks. A healthy diet can help preserve skin suppleness and prevent stretch marks by boosting elastin and collagen, proteins which give strength and elasticity to your skin, found in foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, fatty fish and nuts.
- Include vitamin C in your diet – Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen. Collagen plays a role in keeping your skin strong and elastic.
- Soak up some vitamin D – You can often get vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because the sun is one of the best sources of this nutrient. Or you can include mushrooms and egg yolks, and oranges in your diet.
- Eat omega-3s – Omega-3 fatty acids help the skin stay supple. Omega- 3 could be sourced from many cold-water fish including salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 include chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans.
- Eat food rich in zinc – Zinc is an important nutrient for skin health. Including zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as nuts and fish, may help keep your skin healthy.
- Get regular exercise – Exercising regularly can help you lose weight and avoid weight gain. Remaining at a healthy weight can reduce the risk of excessive skin stretching.
- Consult with a dermatologist: If you have a history of stretch marks or are concerned about developing them during pregnancy, consult with a dermatologist. They may recommend specific treatments or products to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
It is always better to prevent any stretch marks formation by leading a healthy lifestyle. However, not all can prevent its formation due to varying skin type and genetics. There are no clearly useful treatments for stretch marks, although there are many different suggestions on how to remove them or lessen their appearance.