Growing that big belly can be one of the most rewarding feelings during pregnancy. When you place your hand on it, you feel different, you feel special – and you are, you are Mummy! But as you notice your belly expanding, you might also notice something new – stretch marks.
What are stretch marks?
They’re thin, depressed streaks that zigzag across your belly, and sometimes also other parts of your body like breasts, buttocks, thighs, and hips. This occurs when the elasticity of your skin changes as your body makes way for a growing baby. Stretch marks are quite literally marks left by the supporting layers of tissue under your skin that have been stretched so tight to their limit that they leave a mark of little tears. If you have lighter skin, chances are your marks will look pinkish, whereas if you have darker skin your marks will look like a lighter shade of your skin tone.
Can I avoid stretch marks?
Unfortunately, not really, especially if it is in your genetics (ask your mum if she had it!). According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 90% of women can get them sometime after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. But while you can’t tell if you’re going to get it or not, there are certain things you can try to prevent stretch marks.
What can I do to try and prevent stretch marks?
1) Control your weight
You tend to get stretch marks easier when you go through rapid weight gain or loss. So eating healthy and exercising will really benefit your body is so many ways, including this one. Check with your doctor that you’re putting on the right amount of weight per trimester. Remember, eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much!
2) Stay hydrated
Imagine, you’re building a huge water sack for baby, almost like filling an aquarium! When you’re pregnant, your body demands more hydration, and your skin too needs that hydration to stay elastic. So fill up more often and drink, drink, drink!
3) Eat a good diet
You already want to eat a nutritious diet for baby, but certain vitamins and minerals can help boost skin health. Vitamin C in particular forms collagen in your body. Make sure you get some of these in your meals – Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, zinc, and protein. So go for citrus fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, and fish.
Oh no, I already have stretch marks, what can I do now?
Keep moisturized! Shea butter and cocoa butter are exceptional at keeping skin hydrated. These fatty acids from the shells of the cocoa bean and karite tree nuts do a sublime job at stimulating your skin’s renewal process. Oils are also fantastic, such as coconut oil, olive oil, Vitamin E oil and essential oils. (Note, not all essential oils are suitable during pregnancy.) You can even search recipes create your own balms and creams that help your skin stay hydrated. In fact, ask your partner to give you an olive oil massage on your belly before you shower. Moisturize and get pampered at the same time, wouldn’t that be awesome?
Will stretch marks ever go away?
No, they won’t. But they also won’t look so harsh and unappealing as they might now. The good news is that stretch marks like scars will fade with time. And after the baby is out, you can always turn to prescription creams like Tretinoin or Retin-A, or laser therapy treatment – but only after the baby is out! They are not safe during pregnancy!
While you might not feel like wearing a bikini to the beach while you’re pregnant because of your stretch marks, in time they’ll eventually take their place as the faded battle scars from a ‘battle’ long ago to bring a beautiful baby into the world. And you should be proud of that!
Here is a quick infographic by Consumer Health Digest to help you summarize ways to prevent stretch marks in a natural and organic way.