If you don’t know much about pregnancy before you are expecting a baby, the one thing you are bound to have heard of is stretch marks! But is there anything you can do to lessen their impact on your skin or avoid them altogether? Read on…
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur when the skin has been stretched beyond the tissue’s ability to bounce back into shape. The elastin and collagen naturally present in your skin just can’t cope with rapid growth. This is why stretch marks are associated with your growing bump or increased breast size, although any person can get them if they put on weight in a particular area of their body.
Stretch marks tend to be long red or pink lines, usually vertical rather than horizontal, and could itch a bit. After pregnancy, they usually fade or seem like pale pink or silvery lines, which aren’t as noticeable. If your have a darker skin tone, these may appear darker brown or purple at first but will still fade to small shiny lines later.
Can I prevent stretch marks?
People have different skin types and you may have more elasticity in your skin. If you do have more elasticity, stretch marks may never occur at all, or you might just get a few.
If your skin stretches more gradually, it’s less likely to stress the elastin, so trying to control how quickly you put on weight by eating well (not dieting) might help. But you can’t always control this - a massive growth spurt of your unborn baby is out of your hands!
Even if your skin hasn’t become drier in pregnancy, moisturising can help make the skin on your bump, arms, legs and breasts more supple. This might minimise the appearance of stretch marks.
You can help keep your skin well hydrated and feed your skin for cell regeneration by having a diet with lots of water, green leafy vegetables and yellow fruit and vegetables (natural sources of Vitamin A).
Do moisturisers help stretch marks?
Creams, moisturisers or oils that are safe for use in pregnancy can help to keep your skin more supple.
However, some skin products contain essential oils that aren’t advised during pregnancy, so look for companies that have pregnancy-safe products in their range.
Some health experts question whether any cream can fully wipe away stretch marks, though some pregnant women swear by certain products.
“I loved massaging my tummy”
“I’m not sure if I would have suffered with stretch marks or not but I know my mum got a few with me, so I thought it was worth investing in a good natural skin oil. To be honest, what I think I really enjoyed was spending that bit of time each evening just rubbing my tummy with oil. It felt like a nice bonding time and a good excuse to tune into my bump instead of work or cleaning or telly!”
Dana, 32, mum to Layla, 4