What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks, the venous skin marks most dreaded during pregnancy, target the skin on your pregnant belly, hips, thighs, arms, and breasts. Stretch marks are caused by collagen that is torn when skin is stretched during pregnancy.
Stretch marks aren’t painful, but they can itch as your skin stretches. The worst thing about stretch marks is worrying about whether or not they will go away.
If stretch marks are not extensive, meaning the stretched skin and torn collagen is not severe; they may fade into your skin after you have the baby. If stretch marks don’t fade away there are things you can do to minimize their appearance.
Will I get stretch marks?
Not everyone gets stretch marks, but most women do. The extent and depth of your stretch marks is dependent on a few factors.
Your genetic make-up can be a contributing or mitigating factor in the development of stretch marks. This is a factor over which you have no control. If your mother developed stretch marks, most likely, you will have them too.
If you gain too much weight or gain weight too quickly you are also be more likely to develop stretch marks. Watch your weight gain and listen to your doctor’s advice about weight gain. It’s easy to take advantage of pregnancy to pack on the pounds. You are eating for two. The problem is that after the pregnancy there is only one of you left to work of the pounds and wear the stretch marks.
How to prevent stretch marks
While some stretch marks may be inevitable, there are some things you can do that may help minimize their appearance. I use the term “may” because for every woman you talk to who was able to treat her skin and avoid excessive stretch marks there is someone who will show you stretch marks that run deep and wide which they proudly carry as battle scars.
In general, the following suggestions should help minimize stretch marks.
I was able to minimize stretch marks by applying a moisturizing skin lotion, which contained vitamin E, to my tummy, thighs, and hips every day. When I felt the itch associated with stretch marks I immediately reached for the lotion. While I used extra moisturizing skin lotion with vitamin E, some women swear by coco butter skin formulas.
Gently massaging the skin while applying moisturizer is also believed to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Your skin will also be more elastic, more prone to stretch without tearing, if you keep yourself well hydrated. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It requires plenty of fluid to keep it healthy and supple.
How to treat stretch marks after pregnancy
You may do everything you can to prevent stretch marks and still end up with them following your pregnancy.
The good news is that as you concentrate on your baby, worries about stretch marks and other scars of pregnancy fade further from your mind.
When you find time for yourself, you may find that the stretch marks have faded. Most stretch marks will not fade completely away, but your skin color will lighten up and the stretch marks will become less noticeable within months. Give yourself a good 12 months before you begin to lament that stretch marks have scarred you for life.
Immediately after child birth, begin applying lotion again. I went back to vitamin E and was well pleased with the results. There are now products designed specifically to help reduce the signs of skin scarring and stretch marks. Use this type of skin cream right after pregnancy to begin fading stretch marks. (Consult with your physician before using any topical or oral medication or treatment if you are breastfeeding.)
As your body begins to retake its pre-pregnancy shape, continue to drink water to maintain your skin’s elasticity. Working out will also help strengthen and tighten muscles to tone skin and shed extra pounds.
What to do for severe stretch marks
Some women, through no fault of their own, develop a map of stretch marks that no moisturizing skin cream will alleviate nor any fading cream erase. If stretch marks are so severe that they cause a problem with self esteem you may need to consult a doctor.
A dermatologist may be able to recommend a stronger fading cream, but some women consider a tummy tuck the best cure for stretch marks and a sagging tummy.
The important thing to remember is that almost all mothers have experienced stretch marks and the fear that they will never go away. You are in the company of millions of mothers who understand what you are going through.
Choose the solution with which you are most comfortable and which makes the most sense for you and your family. If you are going to have more children, you may as well wait a while for that tummy tuck!