Many things change when you have a baby, such as your sleep schedule and meal times. And along with them comes the physical changes in your body, the dreaded stretch marks being one of them.
For most women, stretch marks are as synonymous with pregnancy and childbirth as diapers and feedings.
So, no matter if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, chances are, you have heard about stretch marks and are likely worried about them.
Well, you are not alone.
Although stretch marks are a seemingly harmless side effect of pregnancy, they are often a source of constant worry and frustration for thousands of new moms.
But as famous – or rather, infamous – as they are, not many people know much about stretch marks. For instance, why do some people get more stretch marks than others? Is it because they did something wrong? Do these marks ever go away? Will they appear in every pregnancy? Can they be prevented?
Lucky for you, we are here to answer some of those questions and alleviate some of your doubts.
What are stretch marks?
Also known as “striae gravidarum”, stretch marks are a type of scar that appear as narrow indented streaks on your skin. Depending on your skin color, they can also be red, pink, blue, black, or purple. They are quite common in pregnancy, affecting almost nine out of ten women. You will find them mostly on your tummy, upper thighs, and breasts, and as your pregnancy progresses and your body grows, they become more prominent. When this happens can be different for everyone. These skin lesions can also pop up on your upper arms, hips, and buttocks.
One of the first signs of stretch marks is some areas of your skin becoming thinner, which is accompanied by itchiness.
What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
Stretch marks, as their name suggests, are caused when your skin stretches rapidly during pregnancy, more than your body can handle. The stretching causes the middle layer of your skin, which is the dermis, to break, thus leading to the marks. There are several reasons behind this. Your genetics, for example, plays an important role. If your mother or grandmother got stretch marks during pregnancy, you are more likely to get them. You are also more likely to get them if your weight gain during pregnancy is more than average. People with elastic skin are also more prone to stretch marks.
But it is not just pregnant women who get stretch marks. They can appear on anyone whenever the skin gets stretched, such as during puberty or when putting on weight.
Stretch marks aren’t harmful and do not cause any medical issues. A new study, however, found that they can often cause pregnant women substantial embarrassment, which can have a negative impact on not just their pregnancy but also their quality of life.
Are they preventable?
Stretch marks aren’t entirely preventable, especially if you have a family history or are overweight. But the good news is that once your little one arrives, they will begin to gradually fade and become less noticeable. Nevertheless, here are a few ways in which you can delay their appearance or in some cases, prevent them altogether:
- Stay hydrated
You should drink plenty of water during pregnancy. It has countless health benefits, including providing nutrients to your growing fetus, preventing urinary tract infection, and also keeping your skin soft and hydrated. Soft skin is less susceptible to stretch marks than rough, dry skin.
- Try to keep your weight gain in balance
This is perhaps the best way to prevent stretch marks as they are caused when the skin undergoes rapid stretching. Speak to your doctor about what is an appropriate amount of weight gain for you. Most women put on at least 25 to 30 pounds, but it can differ for each individual.
- Treat new stretch marks as soon as you see them
It is easiest to treat stretch marks when they are new. Once they turn white, they become impossible to get rid of. So, the moment you begin to notice them, make sure you adopt effective and safe methods of stretch mark removal, such as Dermaclara’s best stretch mark cream for pregnancy.
Treating stretch marks
As mentioned earlier, treating stretch marks as early as you can is the most effective way to do that. Here are a few options that you can look into:
- Stretch mark creams
There are several studies that have shown that stretch mark creams, especially with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, can help improve the appearance of the scars. You can also use creams containing glycerin for stretch marks during pregnancy.
- Silicon patches
You can now find silicon patches that are specially designed for pregnancy stretch marks. They help repair and renew damaged collagen and elastin that is responsible for the stretch marks.
- Chemical peels
Chemical peels, especially those with glycolic acid, stimulate collagen production through exfoliation and can be helpful for reducing stretch marks.
If you do end up with stretch marks, which is often inevitable, do not let them affect your self-confidence or your self-esteem. Your body did a magical thing. It nurtured and brought a little child to life. So, treat your stretch marks like a badge of honor for your incredible achievement.