There are many changes that take place after a woman has given birth. Her schedules, freedom and even sleep time have to be adjusted. Along with the change in schedule, a woman’s body also experiences some changes especially physically, among which are stretch marks. Many women understand that having stretch marks is part of being a mother.
A woman’s skin stretches during pregnancy resulting in stretch marks especially around the abdomen. The stretching happens so that your body is able to accommodate your growing belly. Stretch marks start as red streaks which end up turning silvery over time. The good thing is that you can prevent and even reduce stretch marks appearance if you take proper steps early enough during pregnancy. Here is how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy with a few lifestyle changes, practicing maintenance and a skin regimen after the birth of your baby.
Why Do I Get Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks appear when your body starts to grow at a much faster rate than your skin, which makes it hard for the skin to keep up. The elastic fibers that are under your skin’s surface break hence the stretch marks. The two most common areas that get stretch marks during pregnancy are the breasts and belly. They can also be seen at the upper arms, buttocks and thighs. The marks start off as purple or reddish marks and gradually fade after pregnancy to gray or white.
It is estimated that about 90% of women globally get stretch marks after the 6th or 7th month. Genetics also play a role in determining whether you will have stretch marks or not. Therefore, if your mother had stretch marks when pregnant, there is high likelihood that you will also get them.
The color of the stretch marks also depends on an individual’s skin complexion. If you have lighter skin, your stretch marks are more likely to be pinkish. Women with darker skin get lighter stretch marks, lighter than their skin tone.
The rate at which your pregnancy is growing also determines whether you will get stretch marks or not. There is, however, no proven ways of treating stretch marks or stopping them from appearing. Luckily, their color fades to a tone that is less noticeable. There are some things you can do to ensure that they are less noticeable even in your last trimester. The key is starting early enough.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy—Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
1. Make Your Diet Skin-Nourishing
You’ve probably started eating a balanced diet to ensure that your baby gets enough nutrients and vitamins. While you are at it, incorporate foods that promote skin health and those that will improve the elasticity of your skin.This will help keep stretch marks from appearing. Incorporate these foods to your diet:
- Foods packed with antioxidants as they will help protect and nourish your skin. They include vegetables and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and spinach.
- Food that is rich in Vitamin E as it protects the cell membranes of your skin. Eat collard greens, broccoli, avocados, seeds and nuts.
- Foods rich in Vitamin A as they repair the tissues of your skin. Eat red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and mango. Do not exceed the maximum amount: Women younger than 18 years old should not take in more than 2800 mcg RAE or 9,240 IU. Those older than 19 years old should avoid consuming more than 3,000 mcg RAE or 10,000 IU.
- Food that is rich in Omega-3 and 6 as it will make your skin glow and keep the cell membranes healthy. Eat oysters, eggs, walnuts, fish oil and fish.
2. Increase Intake of Liquids
Liquids help detoxify the body and also keep the cells of the skin plump, which in turn makes the skin healthy. Your skin will also be able to get back to normal from the stresses brought by stretch marks. Here are some liquid drinking habits you should practice:
- Drinking eight glasses of water each day. If you are unable to ingest all at once, you can get a bottle of water that can carry all 8 glasses of water and drink the water in bits throughout the day.
- Drink herbal tea. When you drink tea that does not contain any caffeine, you are able to help your body to remain hydrated. Drinking herbal tea also alleviates the boredom of having to drink water each day.
- Eat watery vegetables and fruits. Eating vegetables and fruits that have water also helps to keep you hydrated. Eat celery, big salads with cucumbers, fresh bell peppers, honeydew, strawberries, watermelon and others.
3. Do Low Impact Exercises
Exercise helps to retain your skin’s elasticity by improving circulation. Additionally, you will be able to keep off those extra pounds.
- Perform exercises for pregnant women. They include kegel exercises, stretches and all other simple movements.
- Try low impact exercises and yoga. Pilates and yoga help you get rid of uncomfortable positions during pregnancy.
4. Pay Attention to Your Weight
When you gain too much weight fast, you will have stretch marks. That is why you need to keep an eye on your weight. You can do so by:
- Avoiding overeating. Even though pregnant women are required to eat more calories than they were eating before, it does not mean that you eat twice as much.
- Keeping cravings at bay. When they do come, just have a little of whatever food you have cravings for and top it with a hefty serving of fruits. That way, you will have satisfied your cravings while watching your weight.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy—Pay Special Attention to Your Skin
1. Practice Dry Brushing
Dry brushing is when you brush your skin using a dry brush. This helps to exfoliate the skin keeping it healthy. It is also recommended for the reduction of stretch mark appearance and also as a stretch marks preventative technique.
- Use a dry brush that has been made of natural fibers and has stiff but not tough bristles.
- Brush bottom (legs) to top (heart area). Mostly focus on areas that have stretch marks like the abdomen and stomach. Once you are through brushing, take a bath to clean the dead cells away.
- Do not use the brush on your breasts because breast skin is very sensitive and can be damaged when brushed.
2. Stay away from Chemicals
Many body washes have sulfates, which dry out the skin and over time and reduce its elasticity. Use cleansers made with natural oils.Rub some coconut oil on your skin and rinse it off using warm water then take a soft towel and pat-dry the skin.If your skin is prone to dryness, you may not need to cleanse it. Therefore, just use some Luke-warm water then pat dry.
3. Apply Natural Oils
Natural oils moisturize and hydrate your skin. Apply natural oils on your lower back, legs, thighs, sides, belly and anywhere else.
Bio oil, Shea butter, almond oil, wheat germ oil and cocoa butter are quite popular oils for moisturizing the skin of pregnant women. Pure lanolin is also wonderful.
Moisturize your skin every morning after a bath and at night. If the area where your skin has stretched is itchy, just apply more oil to it.
4. Apply Sunscreen
If you spend time out in the sun or go swimming, make sure that your body has enough sunscreen especially the chest, sides and belly areas i.e. parts where stretching might occur.
Watch this video to see how this mom took care of her skin when she was pregnant:
How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy—Keep Good Habits after Your Pregnancy
1. Maintain a Skin-Nourishing Diet
- Do not give up on your avocados, fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits after child birth. The skin-nourishing diet helps your skin recover and renew from stretching.
- Don’t try losing weight with a crash diet after pregnancy. Gradually lose the weight so that your skin is able to have enough time to tighten.
- Continue taking liquids to hydrate your skin so that elasticity is retained.
2. Gradually Strengthen the Exercise
Now that your bundle of joy has been born, your exercises are no longer limited. You can focus on:
- Cardio workouts. Biking, running, swimming to keep the circulation going and they also help your skin to get back into shape.
- Strength training. When you build strong muscles, they help your skin to tighten up. Look for a trainer to know what exercise suits you.
How to Get Rid of the Stretch Marks If I Got Them
First, note that stretch marks fade in color the months following birth. However, if they continue being a bother to you, you can consult a dermatologist so that you would be able to discuss appropriate treatment. Most approaches have been proven to be modestly effective.
Want to know useful tips on getting rid of your stretch marks? Check out this video: