Anyone could have stretch marks, whether you are a man or a woman. But they are very common among pregnant women. So, we will discuss how to avoid stretch mark during pregnancy.
It is important to note that it is not harmful and may go away after pregnancy.
A stretch mark usually appears like streak or line on the skin. They could be pink, red, purple, or black depending on the tone of your skin. But they are more visible on moms with fair skin.
Stretch mark is also known as striae gravidarum or striae distensae and can appear on different parts of the body. They include:
Video: How To Avoid Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here.
Consequently, having stretch mark does not pose any medical problem. But if you have been wondering how it forms, here is what you need to know:
How Does Stretch Mark Form
When your body experiences rapid growth, stretch mark could develop. However, your skin is quite elastic. But when it is stretched too quickly, as a result of weight gain, it affects the way collagen is produced.
Collagen is a protein that is found in abundance in the human body. It is the substance that gives the body a firm structure. It can be found on every part of the body. However, it is more around the skin, on bones and connecting tissues of the body.
Hence, when your skin has stretched too quickly, it results in a scar which we know as stretch mark.
A lot of changes come with pregnancy and stretch mark is just one of them. So, you do not need to be worried. On the other hand, there are certain factors that determine if you will have stretch marks when pregnant or not.
If you give affirmation to any of the factors, it means that you are most likely to have stretch mark.
What Factors will Determine if You will have Stretch Mark
Your Sister, Mom, or Grand Mom Had It
Stretch mark has been proven to be genetic. Your mom may have had it due to the fact that her skin has inadequate supply of elastin.
This is what helps the skin to assume its original shape after stretching. So, you are going to have stretch mark if your mom did.
You Are A Young Adult
Starting a family as a young adult is highly encouraged but that does not exclude you from having stretch mark. As a young, pregnant woman, your skin is still firm. For instance, imagine your skin to be a rubber band. When you keep stretching it, at some point, it gets weak and may tear.
In this case, your youthful skin is put under pressure as a result of pregnancy. As the pregnancy develops, your skin will experience some tears. These tears will break out in form of stretch mark. However, as your body grows, it loses its firmness.
You Added Weight Too Quickly in Pregnancy
Your body may be expanding too fast that your skin can not cope with the rapid change. When this happens, you are going to have stretch mark. It is advisable to plan on having a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
You must have thought that pregnancy was an excuse to put on some pounds. It is okay to have some treats, but pregnancy is not actually a time to eat for two. One sure way to gaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is eating more healthy food.
In addition, gaining weight too quickly in pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes. It also makes you prone to having complications during delivery. Furthermore, it may be quite difficult trying to lose your pregnancy weight if you had put on so much pounds.
You Had Them as A Teenager
Stretch mark could occur during puberty. This happens among girls and boys when they gain rapid weight. Hence, if you had stretch marks as a teenager, it is most likely to make a come back in pregnancy.
Even if you have chances of developing stretch mark in pregnancy, there are preventive measures to stop them from occurring. Also, if you have them, you can keep them at a minimal level during the period of pregnancy.
How Can You Prevent Stretch Mark During Pregnancy?
It is important to commence massage when you confirm that you are pregnant. Stretch mark, most times occur on the arms, stomach, back, breasts and hips. These are the areas that need to be moisturized.
Moisturizers prevent the skin from getting dry. On the other hand, it keeps the skin from losing its elasticity. This implies that your skin is less likely to tear when it stretches as your pregnancy progresses.
However, you need to get a moisturizer that is safe to use during pregnancy. This is because whatever you apply on your body has a way of getting into the bloodstream. You can buy a massage lotion on Amazon.
There are certain ingredients that should be avoided when choosing a pregnancy skin care product.
The following skin care ingredients should be avoided during pregnancy:
- Tazorac and accutane
- Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids
- Essential oils
- Aluminum chloride
- Chemical sunscreens
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
Products containing vitamin A can cause birth defects. However, if you want to go natural, some plant extracts are not as safe as you may think. Tea tree and lavender oil have been known to cause hormone disruption in children.
Consequently, there are natural ingredients that are safe to use in moisturizing your body during pregnancy. These ingredients include:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Shea butter
- Cocoa butter
- Almond oil
- Jojoba oil
- Bee wax
Most importantly, moisturizing should be done twice daily. Also, pregnant women should avoid hot baths as they could dry up the skin quickly.
Maintain A Healthy Pregnancy Weight
Rapid weight gain, as we have earlier discussed, is one of the causes of stretch mark. So, it is important to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. However, your pregnancy weight is not just about the food you eat. It comprises of the following:
- Weight of the baby
- Amniotic fluid
- Breast tissue
- Fat deposits
- Growth of the uterus
With all these already adding to your weight, the best option would be eating healthy foods, to avoid being obese. Moreover, you can incorporate the following into your meal plan:
- Dairy products like yoghurt to meet your calcium and protein needs
- Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts
- Sweet potatoes to supply vitamin A to your body
- Salmon to supply vitamin D
- Large boiled eggs
- Green, leafy vegetables and broccoli
- Lean meat such as beef, pork and chicken for iron supply
- Cod liver oil to supply omega-3 acid, vitamin D and vitamin A
- Berries, they contain healthy carbs, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and water
- Whole grains to supply magnesium, fiber and B vitamins
- Avocado to supply potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, vitamin K and copper
- Fruits that are dry such as dates and prunes to supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber
You should avoid the following:
- Food and drinks with artificial sweetener.
- Junk food like ice cream, cake, chips, chocolates, candy and cookies.
- Foods with high amount of fat such as salad creams, mayonnaise, butter, margarine, cream cheese, gravy, and sauces.
It is advisable to monitor your weight gain during pregnancy. This is also done during prenatal visits. Your doctor or health care provider will tell you how your weight is faring. On the other hand, you can evaluate your weight gain at home by doing any of the following:
- Keep a journal to track your weight on a daily basis. You can also do this digitally by using a pregnancy weight tracker.
- Ensure you check your weight at the same time each day. You can do it before you take a bath or after that. This is done to skip weighing your clothing as part of your weight.
- Keep your cravings in check. It is absolutely normal to have cravings but keep the goal in mind which is about maintaining a healthy weight. Munch on a healthy snack like fresh fruits and vegetables instead of ice cream and cake.
Maintain A Good Level of Hydration
Drinking water in sufficient quantity, helps to keep your skin hydrated and soft. It also makes you less prone to stretch marks. So, how much water will be enough to prevent stretch marks?
You should drink up to six – eight glasses of water daily. In addition, cutting down on consumption of caffeinated drinks will help prevent stretch marks from developing.
Video: Pregnancy Workout
This FigoPrego workout is for all levels of pregnancy and it’s only 15 minutes!
Exercising regularly helps to improve circulation. It is this circulation that makes your skin to remain elastic and stretch nicely as your body grows. Also, you are less likely to develop swollen feet or varicose veins if you exercise regularly.
Exercising will not harm your baby but certain exercises like sit ups should not be done during pregnancy. When you exercise, it keeps you active and ready to handle the stress that comes with pregnancy.
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are numerous. However, here are a few:
Being pregnant means, you should expect to get tired easily. You are birthing a new life and it will drain your energy. Hence, when you exercise, you are preparing your body to accommodate the rigors of pregnancy.
Exercise gives strength to your cardiovascular system so that you do not get tired easily. But you should first check in with a physiotherapist who will design the right kind of exercise for you.
As the pregnancy develops, you will become uncomfortable with your normal sleep position. But when you exercise, the tiredness that follows can earn you a good sleep.
Less Chance of Complication in Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery
Regular exercise during pregnancy can reduce your chances of having pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. However, if you have previously had pre-eclampsia, it is important to get clearance from your health care provider before exercising. But this should not stop you from being an active person.
Reduced Discomforts in Pregnancy
Exercising regularly helps to strengthen your muscle. As a result, your body is able to handle the discomforts such as pains and back aches.
Brings Back your Pre-pregnancy Body Quickly
Staying active before and during pregnancy helps you to maintain a good body shape. And even when your baby has been born, your body will bounce back easily. This is because you did not put up much baby weight as a result of regular exercise.
Additionally, regular exercise can help to relief bloating and constipation. It also improves your mood and posture.
The following exercises are good for pregnant women:
- Brisk walking
- Side bending
- Spinning or cycling on a stationary bike
Furthermore, certain precautions should be taken when exercising during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid exercising in hot temperatures and any activity that requires lifting of heavy weight. Also, you should stop when in pain or feeling dizzy.
Use A Good Sunscreen
Ultraviolet rays from the sun has been known to cause harm to the skin, thereby reducing its elasticity. If you will be spending much time outside on a sunny day, you need to get the appropriate clothing.
However, it is advisable to stay in a shade when the sun is at its hottest. Also, get a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and above.
This is the removal of dead or dry skin cells. These dead skin cells usually prevent your moisturizer from getting into the lower parts of the skin.
During pregnancy, when you exfoliate, it improves the elasticity of your skin. Hence, just as moisturizing is important, exfoliating the areas that are prone to stretch marks is also important. Look out for an organic exfoliator on Amazon.
Exfoliating can be done two to three times in a week. But this depends on how oily your skin is. However, it is important to get a routine for exfoliation and stick to it. This is because it will only work when you are consistent.
Consume More Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E
Although vitamin A is not a recommended skin care ingredient during pregnancy, it is advisable to consume more of it in food. Vitamin A helps in the production of collagen which is important for improving skin elasticity.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include:
- Cod liver oil
- Sweet potato
- Sweet red pepper
- Black eyed pea
- Beef liver
Vitamin C also helps in improving collagen production. The human body cannot store or make vitamin C, so it should be consumed in adequate amounts. Foods that contain vitamin C include:
- Chili pepper
- Sweet yellow pepper
- Black currants
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin D can be gotten from exposure to sunlight. However, you can consume your vitamin D from the following sources:
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant to prevent your skin from aging. It also assists vitamin c in repairing the skin’s elasticity. Foods that contain vitamin e include
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Seeds such as sunflower seed
- Nuts such as almond, peanuts and hazelnuts
- Vegetable oils such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils
- Breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarine, and spreads that are fortified with vitamin E
In conclusion, remember that stretch marks appear in places that are not visible to everyone. So, whether they go away or not, wear them with pride because they show the mark of motherhood.