When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes. Our favourite? The most obvious sign of pregnancy – the growing baby bump! But along with the baby bump comes the not-so pleasing physical changes like stretch marks. But what are stretch marks exactly? Are there natural ways of preventing them?
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are small, thin streaks that appear on the surface of overstretched skin. Although it commonly appears in the tummy area during pregnancy, it also occurs in different areas of your body like the thighs, breasts and buttocks. They usually start out pink, red or purple, depending on your skin colour; then fade to a subtler silvery colour but don’t totally disappear.
Why do stretch marks appear during pregnancy?
According to NHS Choices, stretch marks appear in about 8 out of 10 women during the later stages of their pregnancy. One of the reasons behind this is the release of the hormone that softens the ligaments of the pelvis, to prepare it for your baby’s birth. This particular hormone, unfortunately, also softens the fibres of the skin. This makes your skin prone to stretch marks as it expands to accommodate your growing baby.
Pregnancy also tends to make some women gain a lot of weight over a very short period of time. This rapid weight gain puts your skin under strain and causes the middle layer of your skin to tear. This makes the deeper layers of your skin more visible, forming stretch marks.
Can you prevent stretch marks?
Unfortunately, there’s no proven way to prevent stretch marks. Whether you’ll get stretch marks during pregnancy depends on your skin type and its elasticity, and your genetic tendency to stretchmarks. But, there are definitely ways to lower your chances of developing stretchmarks.
Keeping your weight in check
Stretch marks often appear when you gain too much weight too fast. Research shows that this is especially true for pregnant women. Rapid and drastic changes to your weight causes stress to your skin. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. Talk to your healthcare professional about what the best exercises are for you, and how much weight gain is right for you.
Using natural stretch mark prevention products
Using natural and organic remedies to help reduce stretch mark formation is considered safest during pregnancy. Choose products that don’t contain synthetic chemicals. It’s also important to know that not all natural ingredients can help prevent stretch marks.
Cocoa butter and olive oil are commonly thought to help prevent stretchmarks. But research shows that neither cocoa butter nor olive oil make any difference. There is some evidence that gotu kola oil (centella) and massage with bitter almond oil can help prevent stretchmarks or reduce their severity.
Weleda’s Stretch Mark Oil is clinically proven to increase the smoothness and elasticity of your skin. Massage it regularly into your stomach, thighs, breasts and bottom to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Increase your Vitamin D
Research shows that increasing your Vitamin D level may help prevent stretch mark formation. This doesn’t mean that you have to sunbake. You can also get Vitamin D from natural sources like fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese and egg yolks. You can also take Vitamin D supplements. Talk to your healthcare practitioner before you take supplements during pregnancy.
Any tips for reducing stretchmarks during pregnancy? Share in the comments below!