Expecting a baby in less than nine months? For most expectant mothers, giving birth to a child is one of the fulfillments of being a woman. There is nothing more ecstatic than feeling your baby move inside your tummy.
However, pregnant women experience physical changes as the baby grows inside the womb. Perhaps, the most dreaded one is having pregnancy stretch marks.
While this occurrence is inevitable, there are those who do not mind these reddish and sometimes purplish lines in different parts of the body. Some even wear them proudly as a “badge of motherhood.”
But for those who are not really happy about these visible streaks on their skin, they would rather experience other signs and symptoms of carrying a child. However, pregnancy stretch marks, like scars, can be minimized if not removed.
And aside from being a normal part of pregnancy, these are not harmful to both the mother and the baby. Besides, people who gain weight can also have these marks, so there is nothing to be alarmed about.
But what are pregnancy stretch marks?
Also known as striae gravidarum, pregnancy stretch marks are depressed streaks or scarring of the skin which result from the breaking of the elastic supportive tissues beneath the skin as your tummy and breasts start to grow in the latter part of pregnancy.
These are called stretch marks for the simple reason that these lines appear as the skin stretches during pregnancy weight gain. According to experts, healthy weight gain during pregnancy is expected between 25 and 35 pounds.
While stretch marks appear in more than half of pregnant women, those who gain weight rapidly are most likely to get these reddish lines in the process.
Typically, they appear on the thighs, hips, upper arms and particularly on the breasts as well as across the belly. This is because these two are ones to be enlarged the most. These lines will first appear reddish, pinkish or purplish.
Fair complexioned women usually have visible stretch marks while with darker-skinned pregnant women, these streaks can be less visible. In time, these marks will fade and turn to white or gray.
Why do most pregnant women get stretch marks?
The genes have something to do with the possibility of having these reddish streaks appear during pregnancy. If your mother also had stretch marks while she was pregnant with you, most likely, if you are expecting a baby, you will have the same fate.
2. Weight Gain
As mentioned earlier, elasticity of the skin is also the reason behind getting pregnancy stretch marks.
Ways to Minimize and Get Rid of Stretch Marks
Use a Gel Mixture
According to a study, applying a gel mixture of hyaluronic acid and onion extract is an effective treatment for stretch marks.
People who have tried this solution have noticed that the streaks lessened and results were achieved by the 12th week of daily use. It is also recommended to start this regimen while the lines are still reddish or pinkish.
Aside from visible streaks, pregnancy stretch marks can be itchy. To resolve these concerns, moisturizing the skin daily is recommended. This can prevent skin dryness and itchiness. There are several oils and creams to use for moisturizing the skin.
Applying coconut oil on the belly of pregnant women is not new in many cultures since this oil contains saturated fatty acids that do not result in damage from free radicals. Best applied on the skin after a shower, this oil, if mixed with beeswax can easily be absorbed by the skin.
Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter
These two emollients hydrate and moisten the skin. Shea butter comes from the nut of the Karite tree while Cocoa butter is a natural fat cocoa bean extract. These two help in skin renewal, thus, useful in minimizing pregnancy stretch marks.
Most oils help in reducing free radical damage because they have antioxidant properties. These are Essential oils, Castor oil, Olive oil and Vitamin E oil. Vitamin E is widely known to be good for anti-aging and it also helps in the improvement of skin elasticity.
Products that you can try
Here are a few highly rated products which are specifically formulated for preventing and treating stretch marks:
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StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles
Some of its active ingredients include collagen-building peptides and a proprietary complex called NIA-114, which has been clinically proven to rebuild skin barrier, strengthen it, and inhibit the impact of environmental aggressors.
Depending on the kind of stretch marks, however, it can take up to 8 weeks for improvements to show.
For best results, it should be used twice a day and applied to clean skin only.
The product is free of artificial colors and dyes, petroleum, parabens, and mineral oil.
Weleda Pregnancy Body Oil
What is even better is that it is primarily recommended to prevent stretch marks. But because it can also improve existing stretch marks and relatively minor ones, it has become a treatment option as well.
Some of its ingredients include jojoba oil, sweet almond, and arnica.
For best results, it has to be applied up to 3 times a day, and used from the start of your pregnancy up to 3 months before you give birth.
Include Vitamin C-Rich Foods in Your Diet and Hydrate
It is also important to nourish your skin from the inside and keep your body hydrated by eating fruits and vegetables as well as drinking water. Vitamin C does not only rid your body of free radicals. It is also significant in collagen and cartilage formation.
However, do not simply rely on supplements. Experts say that there is nothing much better than eating natural Vitamin C food sources, such as guava, parsley, broccoli, and turnips.
Meanwhile, drinking water to hydrate your body is a no-brainer. Water does wonders for people in general. During pregnancy, the demand for hydration increases as your blood volume also increases. In addition, water hydration is important for the optimal elasticity of the skin.
Try Homeopathy Remedies
Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine that has been in practice since 1796. Proponents of this treatment claim that pregnant women can get benefits from it, including treatment for stretch marks.
Calcarea Fluorate is said to prevent varicose veins, hemorrhoids and pregnancy stretch marks. Both the mother and the baby will also benefit in terms of building strong bones.
While this might be a surprise, gelatin also helps in the formation of collagen. Not only is it effective in enhancing the elasticity of the skin. It also helps in wound healing, treating joint pain and digestion, among others.
Add Zinc to Your Diet
A natural trace mineral, Zinc does not only have antioxidant properties, but it is also necessary for collagen production. While it is naturally abundant in the body, lack of Zinc can lead to the dreaded stretch marks.
And if you think you need to boost your Zinc intake, you can get it from food sources like nuts, eggs, whole grains, chicken, and lamb; or get a Zinc supplement (order it on Amazon).
This aids in new collagen stimulation and cell repair that can lead to healthier skin. A dermatologist can help you in this aspect, but this will not be recommended while you are still pregnant and during breastfeeding. While this is effective, you will have to wait for months.
Dermabrasion and Laser Treatment
While dermabrasion is a gentler treatment, experts warn, though, that this treatment will not lead to major changes. Conversely, laser treatment is used to heat the skin. Consequently, dilated blood vessels shrink and collagen growth is sped up.
However, this can be more expensive since several sessions are needed to get the results you want.
It is but natural for some women to be concerned about getting stretch marks while pregnant although it is not something would-be mothers should be stressed about.
And with the available remedies to try, sooner, these marks will be less noticeable.
If you are prone to having stretch marks when you get pregnant, you can try some of the options above.