Congratulations on your pregnancy! Putting on your favourite dress in which you look thin is about the last thing on your mind – it’s easy to forget or simply not care about the way you look, as your body, routine and relationships are all adapting to make way for baby. We all dread them and yet we are told there is nothing we can do about it. It’s all in the genes. You either get them or you don’t. Though I don’t completely disagree with this statement, I do think there are things you can do to prevent stretch marks.
How do Stretch Marks Form in Pregnancy?
Stretch marks are the results of your body growing in size at a rate which the skin cannot keep up with, meaning it stretches beyond its limits of elasticity. The scars are deep inside the skin layers and usually start as purple color, eventually fading to a silvery/white color.
Stretch marks are harmless, but sometimes cause discomfort as they occur, and some women may find that having stretch marks can affect their self-confidence. If you are feeling down about getting stretch marks during pregnancy, remember that it is perfectly normal, and you are among the majority. It will not affect your baby and will become less noticeable with time. They are a sign of the wonderful achievement your body has accomplished.
Best Ways to Avoid Stretch Marks in Pregnancy
We all have heard that drinking water is great for the body, and this rule applies doubly when you are pregnant. Water helps detoxify the body and helps your skin cope with the stress of stretching. Ideally, you should drink at least 8-10 glasses, and preferable 10-12 glasses, of water in a day. Including foods with high water content into your diet is also a great way to stay hydrated and keep your skin stretch-mark free. Include foods like watermelons, strawberries, cucumbers etc. into your diet to help your skin stretch easily, keeping stretch marks at bay. Mostly however, pay attention to how you are feeling. Dry lips or throat is a sure sign of dehydration. Being tired, headaches, or a lack of concentration can also be a sign that you are dehydrated.
This may be easier to say than actually doing it as morning sickness can make this difficult, but try to sip little and often to maintain your hydration, particularly if you are suffering from morning sickness. Staying hydrated also helps with other elements of your pregnancy, for example preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs), easing headaches and constipation and may reduce fatigue.
Similar to staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult in pregnancy, again due to morning sickness, cravings or food aversion. Certain types of food are particularly good for your skin, including fatty acid like Omega-3 (which is found in oily fish), zinc, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You will likely be paying more attention to your diet while you are pregnant anyway, and the best way to get them into your body is by eating foods rich in them, rather than taking supplements, but this can’t always be helped. Incorporating foods that are especially beneficial for the health of your skin can improve your skin’s elasticity, making sure your skin I nourished from the inside.
Use the right lotion
During your pregnancy gently massage the areas most prone to stretch marks with the right type of lotion twice a day. While many products on the market are scams, studies show that there may be some benefits to using a lotion on your skin that contains collagen, as well as vitamins E, A, C, and K to help firm up loose skin.
Ideas include something like firming butter that has Cocoa Butter, Collagen, Elastin and Shea Butter to support skin elasticity and texture. The firming butter has the addition of Ginseng and Vitamin E that helps soften and rejuvenate skin. You could also look for a lotion like that has a soothing blend of vitamin K, aloe vera, cocoa butter and essential oils. No matter what you decide to use, when you apply the lotion be sure to massage it in.
Watch your weight
Weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable. Women typically gain between 5-10 kgs or even more. It is a common misconception that when you are pregnant you should eat for two, however, this is not the case. An average healthy, non-pregnant woman is advised to eat 2000 calories per day, and pregnant women need only increase this by 200 calories per day, although this will be more for those carrying twins. By eating healthily and controlling the weight you put on, you will prevent extra strain being put on your skin and can reduce the formation of stretch marks.
Avoid use of chemicals
Many commercial body washes contain sulfates, which can dry out your skin and reduce its elasticity over time. Choose a cleanser made with natural oils like coconut oil, aloe vera or olive oil that will hydrate your skin, rather than making it lose too much moisture. Coconut oil can act as a healthy skin cleanser, and that’s typically what I used. Rub it over your skin, rinse with warm water, and after that pat your skin dry with a soft towel.