Stretch marks are part and parcel of having children and whereas a small percentage of women don’t end up getting them – over 90% of women who have babies so get them.
They mostly appear on the lower abdomen when the belly is forced to grow to make space for your growing bundle of cuteness and many women will also find stretch marks on their buttocks, hips and upper thighs.
The life span of a stretch mark is that it start out purple, brown or red in colour and then over time they will fade to a silvery colour that matches your skin tone. However, the bad news is that rarely ever totally disappear.
Are some women more likely to get stretch marks?
It is thought that you could be also more likely to get stretch marks if your mum or sister got stretch marks in their pregnancies. Also, if you’re having twins or multiple babies, carrying a big baby or if you’re carrying a lot of amniotic fluid, you are also more likely to get stretch marks as your skin has to stretch and expand much more.
The faster your skin has to expand, the more stretch marks you are likely to get so one of the best way to combat it is to try to gain the weight slowly – but for a lot of people this is just not possible.
Another thing you can try is to use good quality creams and oils to keep the skin supple as this can help the skins ability to stretch without leaving stretch marks. It is also a good idea to use a specific stretch mark cream pre and post pregnancy that has extra ingredients to help moisturise your skin. There are lots to choose from but if you can afford an organic one then we highly recommend that option as whatever you put onto your skin is absorbed by the body and the less chemicals in our body the better.
Extra tips on reducing stretch marks
Although creams and oils are great to use, there are also some steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting stretch marks. Try not to gain too much weight during pregnancy – around 12-14kg is considered the average. Gain more than this and you are likely to develop stretch marks.
Also, try not to gain weight too quickly as the quicker you gain weight, the more likely you are to stretch the skin and cause stretch marks – so aim for slow and steady pregnancy weight gain – and see some tips here on the best foods to eat in pregnancy
You should also keep your sodium intake relatively low. Taking in a lot of sodium, or other processed foods, can cause you to retain fluid. Fluid retention can cause you to develop stretch marks as it can cause you to be heavier. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, so that you stay well-hydrated.
You can also eat a diet rich in Omega 3’s or take a fish oil to keep your skin supple from the inside out
After pregnancy, your stretch marks will fade in colour – this will take about 6-12 months. They will fade and will blend in with the rest of your skin in terms of colour – however, they will stay the same in texture. If the texture of them really bothers you after pregnancy, it may be worth speaking to your doctor to see if they can refer you onto a dermatologist.
There are a variety of treatment options to minimise the appearance of stretch marks once they have appeared, compared to the treatments available before they develop and whilst they are developing. There are a few topical medications, such as Retin-A and glycolic acid – however, these treatments are not safe to use during breastfeeding and so you will have to wait until your baby is being bottle fed instead of breastfed.
Laser treatments are also available to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and to improve the skin’s elasticity – this will help with the texture of the stretch marks and will help your skin to feel suppler. However, laser treatments are expensive and at the moment there isn’t much research to suggest exactly how effective laser treatments are. Stretch marks are also considered a cosmetic issue, so most medical insurance will not cover laser treatments.
Many women find that they come to terms with their stretch marks over time. Learn to love your body and remember that you have your stretch marks for a reason – a beautiful baby!