Stretch Marks & Pregnancy
Stretch marks, also called “striae distensae” or “striae gravidarum, look like lines or streaks across your skin. Stretch marks happen when your pregnant body grows faster than your skin can keep up with. This causes the elastic fibers just under the surface of the skin to break, resulting in stretch marks.
Doctors say as many as 90% of women will develop stretch marks during their pregnancy. Genetics plays a role as well, so if your mom has stretch marks, you’re likely to have them too.
The good news is they’ll eventually fade and the original color of them will change to white or silver, making them less noticeable.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks during Pregnancy
Although you’re more than likely to get stretch marks during your pregnancy, there are some things you can do to lessen the severity and appearance of them.
Drink lots of water!
Your growing baby puts extra demands on your body’s need for water, so it’s important to stay hydrated during your pregnancy! Watch for cues from your body that you’re getting dehydrated. These can include
- Dry skin
- Chapped lips
- Infrequent Urination
- Dark-colored urine
The Institute of Medicine recommends that you drink about 80 ounces of water or other beverages each day. Also, avoid alcohol (for many reasons) and caffeine as these beverages are known to dehydrate you and can increase your likelihood of developing stretch marks. Be sure to talk to your doctor about how much liquid you should be drinking to keep your pregnant body perfectly hydrated.
Eat vitamin-rich foods
Pregnant moms know they should eat a healthy diet because it’s good for your growing baby. However, there are some vitamins that are super helpful in keeping your pregnancy skin fit and reducing the severity and appearance of stretch marks. These include
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C.
Collagen keeps your skin strong, supple and elastic. Doctors say it can also help prevent stretch marks. You can find vitamin C in lots of fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are especially good sources of vitamin C. Others foods that are good sources of vitamin C include broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes, to name a few.
Soak up some vitamin D
Doctors have discovered a link between low levels of vitamin D and an increased incidence of stretch marks. The easiest way to get vitamin D is by getting a bit of sun on your skin. Talk to your dermatologist about how much sun exposure is safe. You can also find vitamin D in supplements. It’s also added to a lot of foods that you may already be eating, including dairy products, bread, and cereals.
Dr. Dendy Engleman is a dermatologist who’s been pregnant twice. Her advice? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Engelman’s moisturizer of choice during her pregnancy was Bio-Oil. “Even though it’s a pain every day to slather on this stuff, it really does help.”
Natural Remedies for Stretch Marks
Preventing stretch marks may be difficult, but there are many natural treatments that may lessen their appearance.
Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help lighten and fade stretch marks. Just scoop some into your hands and rub it into your stretch marks.
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian recommends homemade sugar scrubs to help diminish the appearance of stretch marks. She recommends mixing sugar with almond or coconut oil and lemon juice and rub it over your stretch marks for eight to ten minutes several times a week.
Aloe vera is super moisturizing and may help to get rid of stretch marks. You can grow your own or even buy large aloe vera stems from the grocery store or natural food stores.
Medical treatment for stretch marks
There are treatments your dermatologist can perform for stretch marks. They won’t make them disappear, but they can help to minimize the appearance. These include
- Chemical peel
- Laser therapy
Your doctor may choose one of these procedures or a combination of several of them to treat your stretch marks.
New moms share their stretch mark stories
“Nothing worked! I oiled every day twice a day and still got stretch marks” -Kara LaCoy
“Bio Oil saved my life. I used it my entire pregnancy with my twin girls and I got ZERO stretch marks!” -Julie Ellis
“I put lotion on my belly every night and morning and still got stretch marks once I hit 8 months” -Gabby Conde
“I used Mederma on my stretch marks. I’ve heard that stretch marks are genetic, but I definitely have stretch marks from when I got heavy in high school, so I’m genetically pre-disposed to getting them. I only have one tiny stretch mark after carrying my son. I say it was the lotion I used and the water I drank.” -Rachel Skala
“Try not to scratch your skin as it’s stretching and itching! That makes them more prominent.” Kay Valentin