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Pregnancy Stretch Marks : The Science Behind And How To Prevent Them

 

Why you will read this article : If you are so much worried about getting pregnancy stretch marks, Then let’s do understand what science says about these and also look at all the practical ways you can do to prevent them too.

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Most probably after the labor , the second most worrisome thing for any pregnant women in this world is a  

pregnancy stretch marks.


what causes stretch marks?


Will I get stretch marks


can stretch marks go away


Are there any creams, lotions or oils that really prevent or remove stretch marks? 


Most of the women asking all these questions themself during there pregnancy


Google only adds to all this uneasiness. There are so many belly butters, creams, oils that claim to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. But that’s not enough, a lot of so-called experts claims that, their remedies will works wonder, their natural homemade remedies made of lemon juice, olive oil, coffee – among the most popular ones. 



But do you know what do scientific researches say? Do all these methods actually work? 


First of all What Are what are stretch marks? 


pregnancy stretch marks looks like thin, long, streak lines and that appear on the surface of the skin. These marks occur when the skin is so stretched in a period of rapid growth or weight gain due to pregnancy .


Anyone in this world can develop stretch marks but women are more prone to getting them than men. 


When they first appear, pregnancy stretch marks can be pink, red, purple, reddish-brown or dark brown.
Through the time, the marks gradually fade into white-colored scars and become less noticeable.


But it is true that, as any scar, they are permanent and don’t go away completely.

pregnancy stretch marks can occur on any body part affected by skin stretching:

abdomen


breasts


thighs


arms


lower back


The Science Behind pregnancy stretch marks


It is true that,stretch marks are considered more of a cosmetic issue and are not medically dangerous too, and they do not receive enough scientific attention. Skin specialists or dermatologists are still learning what causes stretch marks.


But in the first place, as apparently skin stretching is not the only one factor. 


It is very lucky for us, a scientific research team at the University of Michigan, stretch marks may cause due to  the level of stress, which is understands  by Dr. Wang, After over long years of research, Dr. Wang published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology. 


According to that study, pregnancy stretch marks are a type of scaring that originates in the middle level of our skin, the dermis.


Our skin is strong and elastic and it can also expand as it needed. 


On the other hand, if the stretching or shrinking happens too quickly and too far – like due to rapid weight gain or loss during and after pregnancy – the elastic fibers supporting our skin tear. 


One type of protein, called collagen, that promotes the flexibility of the skin fibers. 


Normal production of collagen cannot accommodate well to the quick stretching, in the periods of quick growth. So, the skin of those women may be more prone to damage and scars called stretch marks are formed.  


Risk Factors For Developing Pregnancy Stretch Marks


Let  start with the bad news.

pregnancy stretch marks are very common.

All the research shows that 9 in 10 women get them in some of the form. But, some women are at higher risk than others, due to the following risk factors:  


Genetics


Your family history plays a great role here. It is true, whether or not you get stretch marks depends on your skin type, as some people’s skin is more elastic.


If your mother or also grandmother had them in there pregnancy, it is more likely you will too.

But there are exceptions too.


Age


A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that women of younger age are more prone to getting pregnancy stretch marks than older.


Probably this is happening because when we’re young our skin is firm and tight and breaks more easily when stretched.


That’s the reason many teenagers get stretch marks during puberty and rapid growth. 


When we get older our skin loses firmness and doesn’t have to stretch as much to accommodate our growing body.

Medical Conditions


If a women have some rare genetic disorders like Cushing disease or Marfan syndrome are another indicator , among everything else , then she might get stretch marks. 

Increased levels of CORTIONE hormone, cause crushing disease. But also a elevated amounts of cortisone lead to rapid weight gain and weakening of the elastic skin tissue. 


Similarly the Marfan syndrome affects your body’s connective tissue and decreases elasticity in the skin tissue. 


But even if you know many of the above mentioned factors are against you, you should still do everything on the list below to prevent pregnancy stretch marks. And even more vigorously so.  


What Causes Pregnancy Stretch Marks?


Rapid Weight Gain: 


Your body expands as the baby grows.during pregnancy.

It’s so natural that you’ll gain extra weight to accommodate that growth. Its being said, you shouldn’t start eating twice as much, like quite often assumed. 


How much and also how quickly – are the two questions you need to concentrate on right from the start!


It’s so important to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet and gain your weight gradually.


All the Stretch marks occur when your skin can’t keep up with how quickly your body is expanding.


Also, you should keep track of how much weight you gain every month. It's depend on your weight before pregnancy, and you should try not to gain more than the recommended amount of 25 to 35 lbs. 


But during the last trimester, as the anxiety of giving birth increases many women develop stronger cravings for food.

Hormonal Changes

A women's body needs to undergo hell of a change to grow that tiny embryo into a fully developed baby. 


And while this big things happen, A surge of hormones is essential to grow and protect the fetus, it has its downside too. 


All the Medical experts believe that one of the reasons pregnant women get stretch marks is an increase in the levels of the cortisol hormone  during the second trimester.


Cortisol hormone is important for developing fetus because it can help regulate the metabolic system and control blood sugar levels. But However, the bad thing is that it also reduces the amount of collagen in your skin.


And we know that, collagen is the protein in the connective tissue of our skin and that promotes the flexibility of the skin fibers.


Medications


A prolonged uses of steroid medications or topical steroid creams increases the likelihood of developing stretch marks.


Steroids, which is also called corticosteroids, are one of the  hormone-type medicines that are used to provide relief for swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions.


And it is very commonly prescribed for eczema treatment.
Because steroids are also hormones – just like with cortisol – they can decrease levels of collagen in the skin resulting in stretch marks. 



When Do pregnancy stretch marks Start To Appear?


Most of pregnant women start to notice their  motherhood marks closer to the second trimester – around weeks 13 to 21 weeks. 


But in the other hand they can also appear more early in the pregnancy. These marks may appear any time during the third trimester and  also even after the baby is born.

Remember one thing, You always should continue with all the preventative measures for another 6 months or continue. That’s because pregnancy stretch marks also develop when you start to lose baby weight and your skin shrinks back there original position.


The very first sign you will notice is itchiness around the area that expands and also where the skin becomes thin and pink also.



Is It Possible To Avoid Getting Pregnancy Stretch Marks?


Before we get into everything that you  can do to prevent stretch marks, let’s firstly, get things straight about the available stretch marks creams, oils, lotions or any natural or ayurvedic home remedies that claim to prevent or treat stretch marks. 



Now Here is the truth! 

Some of the research says that,  A very few to none of the items touted to prevent or fix stretch marks really work. Also  you should not believe the hype when you see those creams and ointments promising to prevent or reduce pregnancy stretch marks.

  Research also suggests that, it makes more sense to focus on preserving the elastic fibers of our skin rather than repair the already damaged skin. 

Therefore, it’s very important to do everything you can to help your skin stay elastic during pregnancy that way preventing stretch marks from developing. 


But it is also true that, merely applying stretch marks creams or lotions is not enough. 


There,a have a combination of measures, which necessary for you to take if you want to never see those  marks anywhere on your body parts.


All the predispositions aside, I also strongly believe that – Yes!


In fact it is possible to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy too.



how to remove stretch marks or pregnancy stretch marks?


There have a lot of myths going on around you to preventing your stretch marks. 


In the market, Many of the available stretch marks creams claim to have some magic formula that can prevent or even can remove stretch marks.


When those market available creams don’t work women attain that to merely genetics and claim that nothing helps. 


And while there’s certainly a genetic component, the best way to prevent your stretch marks is, to maintain your skin’s maximum elasticity throughout your pregnancy. 


You will may have much better luck in preventing them rather than treating them. 


And this can also only be achieved by taking a great care of your skin from both inside and outside. 


Stay Hydrated 


Did you all know that skin is the last organ to receive the nutrients we eat, and consume, including water? 


So if we skip one or two glasses of our daily required amount of water, our skin is the one that suffers the most.


Your dehydrated skin becomes too dry, tight and flaky also. And it is more prone to tearing. 


It is said that, daily recommended amount for women is 8 to 10 glasses of water (depending on her weight),  and you need to drink even more than that during your pregnancy. 

A body of a women, needs all that water to create the huge water sack around their growing baby. Water is  great for you, and it also helps with morning sickness, swelling, constipation and of course 

with keeping your skin’s elasticity. 

So you can add 2 to 4 more glasses to your daily water intake during your pregnancy time.


If you feel struggle with drinking 10-14 glasses of plain water during pregnancy, you may add some taste to your water by adding in some mint, lemon juice or any fruit/berry. And all those things, will boost your vitamin intake as well, which is so important during pregnancy. 


You also should eat a lots of fruits and green vegetables too, they have high water content, all of the melons and watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, lettuce. You should not forget about electrolytes that also help you stay hydrated. 


Tip: It is so easy for us to forget about drinking water . So you  should make sure and always keep your water bottle with you. Or if at your home have a pitcher close to where you are. This also  will help you keep count of how much water you drink.

Take a Skin-Nourishing Diet 


One of the most basic first things you need to do right after you find out you’re pregnant is starting a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.


Not only this diet helps you grow a healthy baby inside of you but also help with providing needed nutrients and vitamins to your own body too, including your skin also.


You should take prenatal vitamins timely manner, which is also one of the must-dos things during pregnancy ,already contain a great deal of the vitamins that will help maintain your skin’s elasticity. 


But it is also true that, it doesn’t mean you should merely rely on your prenatal vitamins. 


And you need to make sure you get the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, E, D, and C. All of these vitamins play a huge role in maintaining the health of skin your cells. 


One of the most essential mineral is Zinc, that contributes to our skin health. All the Legumes, whole grains, nuts, meat, eggs are the main foods that are considered rich in zinc.


Lastly, let’s not forget about collagen. 

We already learned above that our body needs more collagen during pregnancy to provide our skin with the flexibility and resilience needed to withstand the stretching. 


Eating collagen-rich fresh foods or foods that boost our collagen production may also help create the building blocks our body (amino acids) you need for your skin goals.

Nutrient-rich diet helps you with the production of more collagen, especially foods like citrus fruit, leafy greens, eggs, chicken, fish . Some of the medical experts claim that consuming collagen supplement is a more sure way to get the needed amount our body requires. 


But you should always talk to your gyn if taking a collagen supplement would be the right option for you or not.

There are some collagen -rich superfoods, they are Bone broth and gelatin, that are arguably even superior to supplements. But it's important though is to use only high-quality bone broth made from grass-fed animals. 


Watch Your Weight


You should always remember that eating for two doesn’t mean you should it twice as much.


We all now know that, it’s so natural to gain weight during pregnancy, you should still control how much and how fast you grow in size. 


You should talk to your doctor about your weight and what would be considered normal for you. 


Throughout the pregnancy a women with normal weight, should gain up to 40 pound extra weight.
.Normal weight is to gain 2 to 4 pounds during the first trimester, then around 1 pound a week during the rest of the pregnancy. 


But, on the other hand, you need to control your weight gain it doesn’t mean you should diet. 


You should Limit sweets and high-calorie foods that have little in nutrition, Instead you càn choose nutrient-rich foods.   Avoid eating fast food altogether. 


But does this mean you have to only eat healthy and say no to all your guilty pleasures like French fries and  pastry. Of course, not! 


I also ate homemade pastries in huge amounts while I am pregnant. And that was my guilty craving that I couldn’t say no to that, But it Iz also true that,the rest of my diet was nutrient-rich and healthy .

So you should eat healthy, watch your weight and use your judgment with your guilty cravings. 


Exercise 


Moderate exercise has a ton of benefit for pregnant women. 

Whether it’s morning stretching or you can go for long walks (or short) with your dog, swimming or prenatal yoga – try choosing something that brings you joy and do mild exercising. 


All of these will contribute to burning excess calories , not only that, it improving blood circulation and maintaining skin elasticity.  


Apply Stretch Marks Oil 


Along with collagen-rich diet and also maintaining your skin health from inside, it’s also important to keep your skin moisturized and supple from outside too.

 

You can also start applying some stretch marks oil from the very first day ,when you find out you’re pregnant. 

 

And always remember you should pick something that is chemical-free and preferably contains shea and cocoa butter. It is said that, The combination of these two is to do miracles in keeping our skin moisturized also.

 

Raw shea butter is great got skin. You should Rub it between your hands, it then softens to a great texture and is very soothing. And you should  just make sure that you rub shea butter into slightly dump skin. So it’s best to use it after a shower. 

One shouldn't forget to use the stretch marks oils postpartum too. There’s a high possibility to develop stretch marks when you lose your baby weight and your skin starts to shrink. 



How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks 


Let me start with bad news again.

It is true that, Like any scar, stretch marks are permanent. 

It’s almost impossible to remove completely,while the right treatment can make them less noticeable. 

Pregnancy Stretch marks fade over time on their own too.

I think,you don’t want to wait until you’re 70 to see improvement in your stretch marks, let’s talk about your options. 


Please, Don’t waste your money and energy on all those skin products that claim to remove stretch marks. There’s no scientific evidence found that any over-the-counter topical cream  can effectively repair skin’s torn elastic fibers. Natural oils and butters don’t work either. 


But You can continue to apply those so called creams, to keep your skin moisturized and to avoid getting more stretch marks. But, they won’t help you get rid of the stretch marks that you’ve already developed. 


According to a study of the American Academy of Dermatology, the two ingredients that seem to offer some improvement are: 


Hyaluronic acid and


Tretinoin

For the best results, you should apply creams containing these ingredients on newly developed stretch marks. But the older stretch marks are harder to treat, by gently massaging the product into the skin. You always need to be patient as you might start noticing some difference only after some weeks of daily application. 


Tretinoin is only available in the market by the prescription only, So you will need to talk to your dermatologist about your stretch marks to get the prescription. 


Please note that warning, tretinoin is NOT safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women so this might not be the right way to go for you, anyway. 


If you are still pregnant or nursing, creams containing hyaluronic acid would be your best choice and only one option. As you should also avoid all other more invasive treatments while pregnant. 


According to a study by Dr. Wang, encourages women to use products with Centella, the one ingredient he says is the most supported.


This cream helps to retain moisture and keep your skin elastic. And the cherry on the top is, because it is safe to use during pregnancy and nursing, try to apply it on your skin with the first sign of stretch marks.


For the more stubborn and old stretch marks, your other options are treatments performed by dermatologists:

Chemical peel

Laser therapy

Microdermabrasion

Microneedling

But These are expensive though. So you should consult with a professional to see if you’d want to proceed and which one would work the best for your skin.


One Last Thing 


Pregnancy stretch marks not at all inevitable. But while some women are genetically predisposed to them, with a combination of preventative measures you can totally avoid them.

 

If you will get stretch marks during your pregnancy though, there’re ways to make them less noticeable too.


It Is true for me as well that, you like them or not, your pregnancy stretch marks will always be a reminder of the miracle you created inside of your body.  


Women are a miracle creator! And isn’t that what matters the most?


Lastly,What About You?


I’m now so curious to hear your perspective on the stretch marks. Do you plan to do everything to prevent them? Do you think stretch marks are beautiful? Share with me in the comments section below please.

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