In pregnancy, stretch marks are depressed, small linear streaks that appear in the skin usually on the belly where expansion is the greatest. Due to the increasingly growing baby, stretch marks most commonly appear in the later stage of pregnancy. Some women also had stretch marks in other parts of their bodies like breasts, thighs, buttocks and hips.
Some women are so lucky their skin never had a single encounter with stretch marks while they were pregnant. If you are one of those unfortunate women who had stretch marks while pregnant, stretch marks do not banish unless you do something. Although a cosmetic issue, if stretch marks still bother you after pregnancy, you may consult a dermatologist.
What Causes Stretch Marks in Pregnancy?
Stretch marks in pregnancy are caused by changes in the elastic supportive dermal tissues in the epidermis and dermis. These elastic fibers and collagen are not resistant to stretching. So when they are expanded, they are ruptured and damaged and later become inflamed, resulting to the scar-like appearance.
During pregnancy, the hormone glucocorticoid also rises. These steroid hormones are produced by the adrenal glands and inhibit the production of collagen. So when someone in pregnant, collagen synthesis is low at the time when skin expansion is intense that is an extra strong formula for getting stretch marks.
When and Where do They Form?
Since the belly needs to accommodate a growing fetus, this is the area where stretch marks occurs the most. Fetus expands the most in the third trimester, but some women get stretch marks as early as on the fifth or sixth month. During pregnancy, weight gain is predominantly obvious due to the increased blood volume. Areas like upper arms, breasts, hips and thighs, more often than not, get stretch marks, too. The outermost layer of the skin is thin and fragile. Some skin is sensitive to the tiniest amount of expansion, hence the explanation of stretch marks everywhere when they become pregnant.
Some women are genetically not prone to getting stretch marks, hence the stories of stretch mark-free pregnancies. Even if your mother did not get stretch marks when she was pregnant with you and your siblings, it is really hard to predict if you will experience the same thing. However, there are factors that increase the probability of stretch marks. Your vulnerability to getting stretch marks is heightened if:
- Your extra weight calculates beyond the desired 25 to 35 lbs. Your skin might get filled with stretch marks
- You are carrying more than 1baby
- Your baby inside you is big, a condition called macrosomia
Stages of Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
The coloring of stretch mars begins as pink, purple, reddish brown, or dark brown, depending on your natural skin tone. Stretch marks fade in time, although their presence would never really vanish.
Preventing Stretch Marks
Although there is not a solid measure you can do to make your tummy and other body parts stretch mark-free, there are ways you can do to at least minimize the odds of getting those linear streaks.
First, make sure you are eating healthily all throughout your pregnancy. Although food cravings are normal and you are often hungry because after all, there is another mouth to feed in your belly, stay within the pyramid of a healthy diet. Gaining weight in pregnancy is gradual and is most predominant in the late stages. Engage in maternity exercises and walk on a daily basis. The goal here is not to make you lose weight, but rather to keep you moving so as to enhance blood circulation in your system including your skin.
Second, prepare your skin from the impending expansion by consistent hydration. Apply rich anti-stretch marks cream and lotions in areas of your skin prone to stretch marks like belly, upper arms, thighs and hips as early as on your first trimester. If you find the specialty pregnancy potions costly, make sure of the essential oils found in your dressers or kitchen such as coconut oil and olive oil.
Third, whatever happens, do not scratch your belly and whichever body part that is itchy. Scratching increases the probability of getting stretch marks. Place an anti-itch lotion near you, so whenever the desire to kill the itch by scratching, you can easily reach for the alternative bottle.
Stretch marks are red, pink or purple streaks you frequently see on a pregnant woman’s abdomen, and sometimes they also appear on the upper arms, thighs, and hips. Because of the extreme skin expansion, the supportive connective tissues underneath the skin are ruptured. Stretch marks in pregnancy are common in the third trimester.
No one can really predict when and where the stretch marks appear, but predisposing factors such as rapid weight gain, big baby, and multiple pregnancies make you more vulnerable in getting them. Prevention of stretch marks includes making sure your weight gain stays in the desired range, and your skin gets maximum hydration from the beginning of your pregnancy.