Dealing with stretch marks during pregnancy is a lot easier than you might think.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, stretch marks are an incredibly common pregnancy experience – up to 90 percent of all moms-to-be develop them, usually in the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.
These pink, red, brown or sometimes even purplish streaks typically show up across your belly, butt, thighs, hips or breasts.
Wondering what causes stretch marks during pregnancy, and if there’s anything you can do about them?
Read on to learn more about what stretch marks are, why they’re more likely to happen during pregnancy, and how you can treat them both while you’re pregnant and after delivery.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are the result of the collagen and elastin in your skin stretching and snapping when your skin is pulled tight during pregnancy.
What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
Whether or not you’ll get stretch marks during pregnancy has a lot to do with the elasticity of your skin.
Younger, healthier skin is typically more elastic – it’s basically like a new rubber band that will tear under pressure when it’s stretched too far.
Genetics are also a major factor: if your mom or grandma had stretch marks, it’s very likely that you’ll develop them, too.
Their skin, and yours, might naturally lack elastin, which is the connective tissue that skin needs to prevent tearing.
Another major factor is how much weight you gain during pregnancy – and especially how quickly.
The faster you gain weight, the faster your skin stretches, and the more likely your skin will earn some new markings.
If you want to try to avoid developing stretch marks, do your best to gain weight gradually during your pregnancy.
How can I treat my stretch marks while I’m pregnant?
Stretch marks aren’t anything to be ashamed of, and in fact in recent years, a lot more women are making a point of showing off their “tiger stripes”!
However, if you’d rather work to minimize their appearance, there are a few things you can try.
- Try moisturizing your skin regularly with a stretch mark oil or cream on your belly, hips, and thighs. Some research says that products that contain the herb centella or hyaluronic acid may help prevent stretch marks, while others studies have shown that anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant oils like cocoa butter, olive oil, or coconut oil can help keep your skin hydrated and promote skin barrier repair. Still other researchers think it’s the massaging action, and not the actual ingredients, that makes stretch mark creams effective. Regardless, moisturizing daily will definitely also help to fight the dry, itchy skin that often comes with pregnancy.
- Nourish your skin from the inside, too, by eating healthy, and by taking your prenatal vitamins daily to support both your baby’s development and your skin health. Vitamin C-rich foods (like citrus, strawberries, and peppers), might also make your skin less vulnerable to stretch marks because vitamin C promotes collagen production, which helps keep your skin strong and elastic.
When can I expect my stretch marks to disappear?
If you develop stretch marks during pregnancy, expect them to stick around for a little while longer post-delivery.
While they might actually look a little more noticeable shortly after you give birth, they won’t stay so vibrant forever.
Most moms find that their pregnancy stretch marks lighten to a less noticeable (and more easily concealable) silvery grey within about six months after giving birth.
Is there anything I can do to eliminate my stretch marks after I give birth?
If you’re still concerned about how your stretch marks look after delivery, you can talk to your dermatologist about other treatments.
While none of these options will make your stretch marks completely disappear, treatments like prescription retinol creams, laser therapy, or microdermabrasion can help make them less noticeable.