Pregnancy gives us a gift so precious that we don’t deserve – our babies. Unfortunately, it also gives us a souvenir that we cannot refuse – stretch marks. Learn more about the causes, treatment and how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy here.
Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes an extraordinary transformation. As her baby grows and her uterus expands, the skin around her abdomen stretches to accommodate the precious cargo inside. This rapid stretching puts immense pressure on the underlying layers of the skin, causing the elastic fibres to tear and leaving behind those distinctive marks we know as stretch marks.
Ah, stretch marks, those enigmatic lines that grace the bodies of many women, especially during the beautiful journey of pregnancy. These fascinating marks, often referred to as “tiger stripes,” have left many curious minds wondering: what are they exactly, and why do pregnant women get stretch marks during pregnancy? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a delightful exploration into the realm of stretch marks!
5 Causes of Pregnancy Stretch Marks
But what exactly causes them to appear? Let’s delve into the fascinating reasons behind these beautiful imprints!
Rapid Expansion: As the baby grows, the skin stretches to accommodate the increasing size of the uterus, leading to the formation of stretch marks.
Hormonal Influence: Hormonal changes, specifically elevated levels of hormones like cortisol and estrogen, can affect the skin’s elasticity and contribute to the development of stretch marks.
Genetic Factors: Some studies suggest that genetics may play a role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to developing stretch marks during pregnancy, meaning you may be more likely to have them if your close relatives experienced them as well.
Weight Gain: Rapid weight gain during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters, can contribute to the formation of stretch marks.
Collagen and Elastin Disruption: The stretching of the skin during pregnancy can disrupt the production and organisation of collagen and elastin fibres, which are responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity and strength.
What Do Stretch Marks During Pregnancy Look Like?
Image Source: iStock
Not all stretch marks look alike. It also varies depending on what caused them, your skin’s elasticity and your skin type. Common variations of stretch marks during pregnancy include:
- Indented streaks or lines on the stomach, breasts, hips, buttocks or other places on the body
- Pink, red, black, blue or purple streaks
- Bright streaks that fade to a lighter colour
- Streaks covering large areas of the body
When do stretch marks appear during pregnancy?
Stretch marks have a sneaky way of making their appearance during pregnancy. Typically, these marks start to show up in the later stages, usually during the second trimester.
However, it’s important to note that every woman’s body is unique, and the timing can vary. Some may notice them earlier, while others might not see them until the third trimester. So, keep an eye out for those elusive lines as your belly grows and embrace the marvellous changes happening within.
Again, the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy depends on how fast your skin stretches and how quickly you’ve gained or lost weight.
How to Minimise the Appearance of Stretch Marks
No one likes stretch marks. Unfortunately, if you are genetically prone to it, sometimes there is very little you can do to prevent it. While there is no proven way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, there are some steps to try to minimise how bad the stretch marks will look on your skin.
The first step to removing or minimising these stretch marks is to detect them as soon as you can. When fresh, it is easier to deal with them.
However, as they grow older and begin to fade, they may begin to settle in your skin and it will be harder for you to then get rid of them.
Keep your weight gain slow and steady
As mentioned earlier, rapid weight gain is one of the culprits behind stretch marks. That said, slowly and steadily putting on pounds during pregnancy is key to preventing them or making them less noticeable.
It can be so tempting to eat for two, but try to follow your doctor’s general recommendations for daily caloric intake, which is also helpful in ensuring a healthier pregnancy for you and your baby.
Apply a good moisturiser or stretch mark cream
Any mild one will do. Use it to massage the areas where stretch marks have begun to appear. Massage the area several times a day.
Some people believe that cocoa butter is an important ingredient that will help to reduce stretch marks. However, it’s interesting to note that there are no studies that have proven this claim.
Meanwhile, studies have proven that creams containing gotu kola (also known as Luei Gong Gen/ Vallaria) extract, vitamin E and collagen hydrolysates are associated with less appearance of stretch marks.
Regular massage with vitamin E oil or coconut oil can help keep the elastin and the collagen healthy, preventing stretch marks.
It might sound a little counterintuitive, but the right stretch mark cream can also effectively prevent stretch marks! If you haven’t started using a stretch mark cream yet, it’s best to get one as soon as possible!
Mama’s Choice Stretch Mark Cream uses Lipobelle™ Soyaglycone, which intensively moisturises your skin, increases skin thickness by 12% and fades stretch marks. It’s also good at relieving itching, which is normally a sign that stretch marks are about to appear.
To make the most of this stretch mark cream, it’s best paired with Mama’s Choice Stretch Mark Serum. It’s enriched with Alpha Bisabolol that helps disguise stretch marks and regenerate the growth of skin cells. In addition, it’s clinically proven to reduce 72% of stretch marks in 30 days.
Indeed, Mama’s Choice Stretch Mark Treatment Series is just what you need to minimise stretch marks and prevent new ones from appearing.
Exfoliate your skin regularly
Do so with a gentle exfoliate. There are many ready-made exfoliates on the market. NTUC has tons and you can pick one that suits your skin type the next time you go shopping for groceries. You can also make your own exfoliant using dried and powdered orange peel and yoghurt.
Vitamin E helps repair and replenish collagen. A daily dose of Vitamin E or a massage with Vitamin E oils can help you reduce the appearance of these stretch marks.
Wheat germ oil, cosmetic products that contain peptides, and retinoids are some of the other products that may work on your skin. However, their efficacy is not known.
This way, you will keep your skin hydrated and it will remain relatively free from scars and stretch marks.
Exercise regularly when you are pregnant
A lot of women avoid any kind of exercise
and take long periods of rest. This could be detrimental to your overall health as well as the health of your skin. Take a stroll for a few minutes every day. If you want, you can even enrol yourself in a special yoga class for pregnant women.
Will Stretch Marks Go Away After Pregnancy
Ah, the million-dollar question: when will those persistent stretch marks bid us farewell after pregnancy? Well, here’s the scoop, my friend. While stretch marks may fade over time, they may not entirely disappear.
Patience is key! For most women, these tiger stripes gradually become less noticeable within months to years after giving birth. Some lucky souls might see them vanish sooner, while others may have a few loyal marks that stick around. So, don’t fret if those lines are still lingering—it’s all part of the beautiful story your body has to tell.
If you’re still eager to remove any trace of these marks on your skin as soon as possible, don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist about it.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.