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How To Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Updated January 11, 2021

pregnant woman holding stomach

Stretch mark prevention during pregnancy

Pregnancy stretch marks are “badges of motherhood” that 90% of expecting moms will experience in one way or another. What’s surprising for some women is that stretch marks are primarily genetic. If your mom had them, you probably will too; but if she came out of her pregnancy with smooth skin, you’ll likely have minimal scarring through yours. 

Most moms-to-be will start noticing stretch marks when they’re somewhere between 13 weeks to 21 weeks pregnant. They are most likely to occur across your belly, butt, thighs, hips, and breasts as your skin stretches to make room for the baby. And while stretch marks are genetic, there are some ways to help prevent them when pregnant.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Stretch marks may occur if you lack nutrition in certain food groups. Eating foods that boost skin health may help. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in these nutrients:

  • Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen, which helps keep your skin strong and elastic. 
  • Vitamin D has been proven to reduce acne, boost skin’s elasticity, and stimulate collagen production.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant known for its anti-aging qualities and ability to improve skin elasticity.
  • Zinc helps reduce inflammation and increase collagen production, which promotes skin regeneration.

2. Apply a stretch mark cream

While completely preventing stretch marks when you’re pregnant is out of the question, you can work to lessen their appearance ahead of time. Most stretch mark creams are formulated with hydrating ingredients that promote skin health, such as vitamin E, aloe, or cocoa butter, that can help diminish skin damage like stretch marks.

Some creams also include a retinoid, which is proven to encourage collagen and elastin production to smooth and tighten skin. Retinoids, however, are not safe to use while pregnant. You can also check if the stretch mark cream has been clinically tested as safe to use while pregnant. If you’re questioning if a cream is safe to use, it’s best to consult with your doctor first.

3. Hydrate your skin daily

It’s important to start moisturizing as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Moisturizers containing coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, and/or vitamin E. helps maintain skin’s elasticity, making it less likely to tear when your body starts expanding. Apply it to the areas where stretch marks are most likely to develop, such as your belly, lower back, breasts, and hips.

4. Drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water will help keep your skin hydrated and soft. Soft, hydrated skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as easily as dry skin does. Also be mindful of drinking caffeinated beverages, like coffee. They may actually increase your risk of developing stretch marks. Balance out your caffeine intake with plenty of water and other caffeine-free fluids.

5. Skin exfoliation

Once a week, you can use a pregnancy-safe body scrub on wet or dry skin. Take a small amount and gently rub it onto your skin using circular motions. Take extra care on areas that are prone to stretch marks, such as your belly, buttocks, thighs, hips, and lower back.

6. Massage your skin

Massaging the skin on your hips, belly, and breasts is a great way to treat stretch marks during and after pregnancy. Not only does it feel good and help relax you, but a gentle massage can also increase blood flow, break up the scar tissue that causes stretch marks, and lessen their appearance.

How to reduce the appearance of stretch marks after pregnancy

1. Apply an ultra-targeted treatment

Specialized creams and lotions are the easiest way to treat stretch marks after pregnancy. They typically include ingredients like avocado peptides, sunflower seed oil, and beeswax that all help heal stretch marks. Apply them regularly to achieve the best results.

2. Stay active

Exercise can be an effective method to treat stretch marks after pregnancy. It’s helpful to strengthen the muscles in your hips, thighs, and belly where stretch marks are most prevalent. Even light exercise can strengthen those muscles and help tighten loose skin and promote faster healing.

3. Use invasive treatments only as a last resort

Doctors suggest natural remedies over medical treatments, especially if you are breastfeeding. However, if you’ve exhausted the natural treatments, there are other medical treatment options. Majority of these use laser treatments, which aren’t safe during pregnancy. Reach out to a medical professional to talk about what’s best for you after the baby is born.

4. Take care of the rest of your skin

Hydration is one of the most important parts of healthy skincare. It keeps your skin smooth and soft and preserves skin elasticity, helping prevent stretch marks.

5. Be patient

We know how badly new moms want to be rid of their stretch marks after giving birth. Unfortunately, it can take some time. Stretch marks don’t go away overnight, your skin has to slowly repair the stretch marks that your pregnancy caused and they begin to fade. We know it’s hard, but you’ll just have to be patient and do what you can to help speed up the process.

FAQs

When do stretch marks start during pregnancy?

Stretch marks typically start to appear for a majority of pregnant women in the second trimester. Some will only experience them at the tail end of their pregnancy, while some will avoid them altogether.

What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?

Stretch marks are very common and do not just affect pregnant women. They can happen whenever the skin is stretched and the elastin and collagen break, commonly from growing bellies or rapid weight gain. Pregnancy hormones can also affect your skin and make it more likely for you to get stretch marks.

When can I expect my stretch marks to go away?

Like all scars, stretch marks are permanent. However, there are many treatment options that may lessen their appearance over time. The good news is that stretch marks naturally become less noticeable around six to 12 months after your baby is born.

Can I apply coconut oil on my stomach during pregnancy?

Yes! To reap the full benefits, start applying coconut oil during the pregnancy itself. Massaging with coconut oil helps smooth out stretch marks and makes them less noticeable. Later on, they can lessen more and more, blending in with the skin.

Is vaseline good for stretch marks?

Absolutely. Vaseline helps to seal moisture into the skin that is needed to maintain skin elasticity. Vaseline helps restore dry, damaged skin cells by locking in moisture and promoting the skin cell renewal process. Keeping your skin well hydrated is one of the best approaches to stretch marks.