Weight gain, along with the natural stretch of your baby growing, can cause tears in your skin called stretch marks. 90% of women get stretch marks after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses, your belly expands, stretching the skin taught, which can lead to stretch marks in areas like your abdomen, back, and thighs. Learn how to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy with the following four tips. If you are not able to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy completely, these tips will also help speed up the healing process.
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Staying hydrated keeps your skin supple and helps prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. During pregnancy, you should increase your water intake to at least 64 ounces of water per day. If you engage in strenuous activity, you will need even more than that to replenish your body’s reserves.
If you live in a dry climate, or you are pregnant during winter, your skin may need extra hydration in addition to the water you drink to prevent stretch marks. Keep your skin moist by misting your exposed skin with a water-filled spray bottle.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Nutritious eating sustains your body—including your skin—during pregnancy. Certain vitamins and minerals are especially beneficial to your skin’s health:
- Vitamin A increases blood flow to your skin, promoting elasticity. It can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and eggs.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which helps keep your skin healthy and better able to fight off skin-drying colds. It can be found in in oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
- Vitamin E quells dryness by repairing your skin’s natural moisture barriers. It can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin, and avocado.
- Zinc helps repair your skin’s damaged cells and aids in tissue regeneration. It can be found in oysters, cashews, kidney beans, and oatmeal.
Foods rich in these vitamins and minerals can aid your efforts to prevent stretch marks from the inside. The nutrients in these foods help your skin stay more elastic, assist in building collagen, boost your skin’s ability to repair, and help your body regenerate skin cells—all of which help in the fight against stretch marks during pregnancy.
3. Moisturize Your Skin
Apply hydrating lotion or oil to your skin at least once a day during pregnancy. Keeping your skin moisturized provides the added benefit of staving off the itchy skin that can occur during pregnancy. Shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil are all deep moisturizers that can help keep your skin soft and supple, which helps prevent stretch marks from the onset.
Exfoliation removes the dry outer layers of your skin, paving the way for healthy new skin to emerge while also making it easier for moi sturizers to penetrate. A gentle way to exfoliate your skin is by “dry-brushing”—brushing your skin with a natural-bristled brush while it’s dry. Pumice stones and loofahs also work well.
4. Stay Active
Exercise enhances your circulation, which in turn benefits your skin by providing oxygenated blood to promote skin cell regeneration. Exercise also helps to maintain you skin’s elasticity, which is essential to stretch mark prevention.
Also, staying active can help tone and strengthen your body, which limits weight gain and further opportunity for stretch marks to appear. Activity that is safe during pregnancy includes any form of gentle movement, such as walking, swimming, or yoga. Check with your obstetrician before starting any new exercise program during pregnancy.
Treating Stretch Marks After They Arise
If you do get stretch marks, your chances of preventing further damage are strengthened by addressing the marks as soon as they show up. The same strategies that help to prevent stretch marks also help with healing. Stay hydrated, eat a nutrient rich diet, moisturize your skin daily, exfoliate, and exercise—this can minimize their appearance and prevent additional stretch marks from appearing.
Unfortunately, stretch marks are difficult to reverse because they are a tear in the surface of your skin. However, there are several stretch mark treatments that may help minimize the appearance. A regular regimen of rubbing castor oil, or a combination of aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, and vitamin A oil can promote healing and renewed skin growth while reducing redness and swelling. Laser treatments, dermabrasion, or gels containing hyaluronic acid and onion extract may also help.
If you have any questions about your pregnancy, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501-664-4131 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and compassionate obstetricians.