Amongst the many physical changes that occur during pregnancy, stretch marks are one of them. They are a classic trade mark of pregnancy and almost 75-90% of women get them. So welcome aboard, if you’re one of them. It’s a natural process of pregnancy and there’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about!
Why Do Stretch Marks Happen?
As your body gains weight, your skin stretches along with it. But since the skin is unable to keep pace with body growth, the elastic fibres under the surface of the skin break resulting in stretch marks. So the more weight you put on, the more likely you are to get stretch marks. They usually appear as pinkish lines on your abdomen, hips, and thighs.
Some Facts About Stretch Marks You Didn’t Know
This may probably come as a shocker to you. But lest you weren’t aware, stretch marks are hereditary. So if you’re mother has had stretch marks, be ready to get them too. However, you may be one of the lucky few to escape them, provided your skin is soft and supple.
Can You Avoid Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Call it stubborn or a pregnancy trademark, but unfortunately, stretch marks are for life. No matter what oil, cream or lotion you apply there’s little you can do about disguising them. However they do fade away with time, leaving thin light streaks. So don’t fall prey to those products on the shelves that make tall claims. If you do, be forewarned, you’ll only be burning a hole in your pockets. And do remember that stretch marks are a result of the internal layer of skin stretching. So any external application may not have much effect to erase them.
What Can You Do To Reduce Stretch Marks?
There’s no point fighting a losing battle, because, if you’re bound to get stretch marks unfortunately there’s nothing much you can do to avoid them. However, you can take several steps to reduce the effects.
Always stay hydrated: It is extremely important to keep yourself hydrated during pregnancy. Water helps to flush out all the toxins in the body and helps your skin to cope with the stress of stretching. It also helps to keep your skin supple. Ideally, you should drink at least eight glasses of water. But if you find it hard to consume only water, you could substitute it with other fluids and beverages like green tea or any other de-caffeinated drink.
Another option is to include fruits with high water content in your daily diet. Fruits like watermelon, strawberry and cucumber are rich in water content and can help you win your battle against stretch marks.
Keep fit by exercising: There is a general misconception that exercising during pregnancy could be harmful. But on the contrary, it has several benefits that could promote yours – and well as your baby’s – well-being. Exercise is known to make the birthing process easier. Besides, it also helps in maintaining your skin’s elasticity, improves blood circulation and helps you to breathe in more oxygen. More oxygen means better circulation that allows your skin to stretch naturally which helps in reducing stretch marks.
Avoid fatty foods: Pregnancy is a time when you’re craving for all the wrong foods. Who can resist junk and fatty food? Making a healthy choice, during pregnancy may be quite tough and require some strong will power. But nevertheless if you succeed, you will benefit in the long run. Oily foods will increase fluid retention and increase your chances of developing stretch marks. Healthy foods will nourish your skin and increase its elasticity naturally, thereby preventing stretch marks.
Take your vitamins: When you’re undernourished or low on nutrients, it shows on your skin prominently. The skin looks dull and lifeless.
During pregnancy, it is doubly important to include a diet rich in nutrients. Vitamins A, E and C are excellent for your skin. They replenish your skin and keep it looking healthy. Vitamin A promotes the repair and maintenance of skin tissue, while vitamin E helps keep the skin membranes intact and vitamin E helps in the production of collagen which is responsible for skin elasticity and cell regeneration. Omega 3 fatty acids keep your skin membrane healthy and help in adding a natural healthy glow to your skin.
Make sure to include foods like spinach, strawberries, nuts, carrot, sweet potato, mangoes, walnuts and eggs that are rich sources of these vitamins and can help your skin to fight those dreaded stretch marks.
Exfoliation: Exfoliation is the process of removing the top layer of dead skin. This allows new cells to come to the surface. This helps increase circulation and prevents stretch marks. One of the simplest ways of exfoliation are dry scrubbing and ‘loofah’ing.
Dry scrubbing is done before a bath with a soft bristled body brush. It helps get rid of dry and dead skin. Brush your skin from down upwards starting with the legs and continuing towards the heart while concentrating on areas that are more prone to stretch marks. Soon after dry brushing, have a bath in warm water, and remember to apply a layer of moisturiser. Avoid brushing over your breasts as the skin around them is usually very sensitive.
Loofah: This involves scrubbing your body during a bath. Bathing in warm water allows the pores
to open and loosen dead skin. Using a loofah or scrub helps to scrub off the top layer of dead and dry skin. Do remember to use a moisturizer over your skin after bath. This acts as a protective layer until such time your skin forms its own natural barrier.
Nip it in the bud: As soon as you see stretch marks making an appearance, attack the problem in the initial stages before it aggravates. Applying coconut oil regularly is a great remedy. Some prescription medicines may also help, but it is safer to consult your doctor to check the ingredients/chemical in them.
Get a massage everyday: A gentle massage will help improve circulation and promote growth of new tissue. While massaging, you specifically need to concentrate on the thighs, abdomen, lower back and legs. These are areas which undergo the maximum strain during baby’s grown and are hence most susceptible to stretch marks. Massaging helps the skin to stretch in these areas. But ordinary moisturizes may not be of great help as they cannot penetrate deep into the skin layers, where stretching takes place. Natural oils like coconut oil, castor oil and vitamin E oil are known to be more effective than store-bought creams and lotions.
Tips & Tricks
If you water bag breaks, stay calm and call your gynaec. Wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothes and on the way to the hospital, use a plastic sheet to prevent the car seat from getting soiled.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Dry fruits are a rich source of iron and contain high dietary fibre. They also meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy