During pregnancy the skin around the upper thighs, buttocks, breasts and abdomen will stretch to accommodate the changes going on in the body including weight gain. Stretch will appear in various locations of the body as raised pink, red or dark purple streaks across the skin.
How Stretch Marks Develop on the Skin
Stretch marks are small tears in the dermis or middle layer of the skin. These tears usually appear when the elasticity of the skin has been maxed out and the connective tissue in the dermis tears. These tears quickly heal but leave marks or scars that are commonly referred to as stretch marks.
It is during significant growth spurts and extreme weight gain that the skin has difficulty stretching and the skin’s elasticity is not able to accommodate the growth. The skin is usually quite elastic, with ample amounts of collagen tissue, which allows the skin to stretch significantly. However, during pregnancy the drastic changes occurring within the body, including weight gain will often result in the formation of stretch marks.
Genetics does play a role in the formation of stretch marks, specifically during pregnancy. If a woman’s mother or sister had stretch marks appear during pregnancy then chances are she will also be prone to experiencing stretch marks. The elasticity of the skin is the overall defining factor in how many stretch marks will occur during pregnancy. However, there are a variety of steps that can be taken to support the skin and to help prevent the occurrence of stretch marks during pregnancy.
A Healthy Diet Can Help Prevent Stretch Marks
A healthy well balanced diet with plenty of vitamin E and C, zinc and silica can help support the health, wellness and overall elasticity of the skin. Vitamin E, C and A promotes the growth of elastin and collagen. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will supply the body with the much needed vitamins and minerals required to support skin elasticity and collagen production.
Water is also essential to the elasticity of the skin. Proper hydration helps the skin remain soft and supple during pregnancy which ultimately supports the stretching of the skin during periods of growth and weight gain.
Avoid Stretch Marks by Exfoliating and Moisturizing the Skin Regularly
Exfoliation is an ideal way to slough off dead skin cells and promote the growth and regeneration of healthy new skin cells. Regular exfoliation promotes healthy and glowing skin over the entire body as well as increases circulation and blood flow to the skin. Exfoliation also prepares the skin for the application of moisturizer and increases the skins ability to absorb moisture.
There are a variety of moisturizers, creams and oils that can help the skin remain soft and supple throughout pregnancy. In addition to keeping the skin well lubricated, oils, creams and moisturizers also support the skin during periods of growth allowing for ample stretching without tearing the middle layer of the skin where stretch marks occur.
Skin lotions are often enhanced with vitamins and minerals that support the elasticity of the skin as well as enhanced collagen production. Look for skin care creams, lotions and oils that contain vitamin E, vitamin C, emu oil, coco butter, wheat germ oil, almond oil or lanolin. Apply to the skin twice daily to keep skin soft and supple as well as to prevent the formation of stretch marks.
Minimize the Severity of Stretch Marks by Gaining the Recommended Amount of Weight during Pregnancy
Gaining an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy can lead to the development of stretch marks. Doctors recommend a weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds (although this can vary depending on a woman’s BMI) during pregnancy with a focus on a healthy well balanced diet.
Stretch marks during pregnancy are a very common and while the marks may be very noticeable during pregnancy they fade significantly over time. A healthy well balanced diet, plenty of water, regular exfoliation and ample moisturizer applied twice daily can help prevent the development of stretch marks during pregnancy.