Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Most pregnant women fear them. Many won’t even talk about them. Some particularly enlightened ones wear them proudly as a “red badge of motherhood.” Yep, they’re pregnancy stretch marks – and through your baby’s not even born yet, she’s already started to leave her mark when you’re somewhere around 13 weeks to 21 weeks pregnant. More than half of all expecting women get these pink or red (sometimes purplish) streaks; you’ll most likely notice them across your belly, butt, thighs, hips, and breasts.
WHAT CAUSES THEM?
Stretch marks are actually tiny tears in the supporting layers of tissue under your skin as it’s pulled tight to the limit during pregnancy. Susceptibility has lots to do with genetics: Chances are, if your mother got them, you probably will too – while if she sailed through her pregnancies with smooth skin intact, you’ll probably stay as smooth as your baby’s butt. Rapid pregnancy weight gain can also make you more likely to get stretch marks. And darker-skinned women are less likely to get stretch marks as fair-skinned gals (plus they’re not as visible on dark skin).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Try as you might avoid stretch marks, there’s no proven way to treat them or to stop them from zigzagging their way across your body. Fortunately, they won’t stay so vividly hued forever. After delivery, they usually fade to a less noticeable (and more easily concealable) silvery grey colour. Meanwhile, try to wear them with pride.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Whether or not you get pregnancy stretch marks is usually a matter of genetics – but there are a few ways to try avoiding them (or at least to slow down the stretch):
Cocoa butter certainly won’t hurt (though no stretch mark cream is the miracle cure it’s touted as). If nothing else, moisturizing daily will help with the dryness and itchy skin associated with pregnancy (plus it’s fun to have your partner rub some onto your belly!).
Nourish your skin from the inside
Plenty of vitamin C foods in your pregnancy diet may also help keep your skin toned and less subject to stretch marks.
Watch your weight
Keep an eye on that scale during pregnancy and put your pounds on slow and steady instead of in big spurts. Keep in mind that eating for two doesn’t mean literally eating twice as much – so as much as possible, try to follow the general recommendations for caloric intake during pregnancy.
Wait it out
Of course, you wanted a solution yesterday. But keep in mind that your dermatologist can offer treatments such as Retin-A or laser therapy after you give birth. (Neither is safe for pregnancy – plus, the stretching ain’t over till it’s over.)