Conditions Pregnancy

Pregnancy And Stretch Marks

Stretch marksStretch marks and pregnancy go together – they are par for the course, as is morning sickness, nausea and the inability to control emotions. However, thankfully, stretch marks can be beat and women who have given birth know that in time, the awful red string of lines around the once inflated belly (and other areas, such as the breasts, hips and buttocks) fade away to virtually noticeable pale, silver zigzags!

A lot of women may feel that are not willing to wait for nature to take its course and prefer to take immediate, evasive action and use lotions and creams which are able to aid the unsightly stretch marks fade quicker. The fact is that modern science has come a long way and there are dozens of effective and good quality stretch mark creams and lotions on the market, which after regular use will likely make the red rings of pregnancy vanish!


Why do stretch marks appear?

Stretch marks are due to the changes in the elastic supportive tissue which lies just under the surface of the skin. Initially the marks appear as fine pink, reddish brown lines, or dark brown, depending on the mom’s skin color. 50% of pregnant women will not develop stretch marks – this phenomenon is not completely understood and many believe that genetics could be the cause of developing stretch marks or not developing stretch marks during pregnancy.


Lotions and potions – are they safe?

Besides the tummy, hips and buttocks marked by the lines of pregnancy, breasts will also increase in size and most women will find that their breasts are not spared from stretch marks. It is not perfectly clear whether the over-the-counter creams used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks are totally safe (and will not be absorb by the growing baby) and therefore it is better to avoid using the over the counter treatment until after the birth and if breastfeeding, waiting until breastfeeding is over.


Exercise, diet and lifestyle

Rather than rushing out to purchase expensive stretch mark lotions, expectant moms may think about their diet. Eating a lot of healthy foods, such as foods which are high in antioxidants, like fruits and veggies which are naturally red, orange and yellow will go a long way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Drinking a lot of water will help to keep the skin supple and well moisturised.

Foods that will help the skin’s elasticity will go a long way in reducing stretch marks. These foods include fish and fish oils and flaxseed.

Besides the genetic factor, soon-to-be moms who suffer from nutritional deficiencies are at a far greater risk from developing stretch marks during pregnancy. The expectant mom must ensure that they are eating foods which are good sources of vitamins, proteins, iron, zinc and calcium. By following a good diet, not only will the soon-to-be mom be actively combating stretch marks, but weight gain will be steady and baby will also be receiving all the required nutrients and proteins for healthy development and growth.

Avoid the sun! This does not mean staying indoors for the entire pregnancy but rather using a high SPF sun-block cream (when in the sun). Over-exposure will cause the skin to lose its moisture and the elasticity of the skin will be reduced.

Moderate exercise while pregnancy is a good way to help the body and skin to stay healthy and a modern exercise program will also help mom to keep weight gain stable and will also promote weight loss after pregnancy.


Natural treatments and home remedies

There are many natural treatments available which will effectively reduce stretch marks, such as aloe vera, olive oil remedies, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Bio-Oil is available commercially and these natural remedies are usually safe to use throughout the pregnancy. It is advisable, however to consult with your caregiver before using treatments for stretch marks.

Women who are concerned about their stretch marks and who have tried the over-the-counter and natural treatments, can discuss their concerns with a dermatologist, who will suggest the best course of action to eradicate or at least reduce the visibility of stretch marks.

 – Kathy Baron


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