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Sometimes, it might feel like pregnancy is taking your body and stretching and folding and crowding it in all sorts of ways. Most people who are pregnant experience symptoms they’ve never had before, including stretch marks. If you’ve spoken to others who have experienced this, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent (or at least reduce) the appearance of stretch marks on your body.
Stretch marks are streak-like lines that can show up on the surface of your skin. Depending on your skin color, they can be pink, red, purple, or brown. You might not even notice them at first, as they can be very pale or match your skin tone perfectly.
Stretch marks form as our bodies grow rapidly. The dermis, or the middle layer of your skin, is being stretched quickly and will actually “break” in places, causing the stretch marks to appear. While they’re common in pregnancy (nearly 80 percent of women experience them while pregnant), that is not the only cause. Many people develop stretch marks when they’re growing, putting on weight, or going through puberty (hormones can do that to you!).
Stretch marks can appear at any time during pregnancy. They usually make their appearance when you start gaining weight quickly, which for most women is in the middle or the end of the second trimester. Often, stretch marks do not occur in a first pregnancy but will in subsequent pregnancies if your body gains weight faster than before.
The most common causes of pregnancy stretch marks are rapid weight gain, quick hormonal changes, and genetic predisposition to them. Yes: stretch marks are genetic in pregnancy for many women. But just because you are predisposed to getting them, doesn’t mean you will—and it doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to prevent them appearing everywhere.
When you first find out you are pregnant, you can start doing things to prevent a lot of stretch marks. Try some of these tips:
Stay hydrated. You’ve probably found yourself craving water like never before, and that is totally normal. Luckily, all those ounces might help prevent stretch marks! Give your skin its best chance at elasticity by drinking plenty of water, and that will help lessen the breakage that occurs in the dermis when your belly starts to grow.
Control your weight gain. While you should not be trying to lose weight when you are pregnant, do your best to control the amount you gain. Most women gain between 25 and 35 pounds (usually two to four during your first trimester, and then one pound a week for the rest of your 40 weeks). But keep in mind that everyone is different. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about how much weight you’re gaining, and she can help you get on track.
Pay attention to nutrition. A nutrient-rich diet is another great way to help your body combat stretch marks. Eat lots of healthy fats (think nuts, avocado, and olive oil), as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Apply creams and lotions. We love a good lotion or body cream to help prevent stretch marks. Many women find creams and lotions that contain shea butter to be their best bet, especially if applied every day. But don’t let that lotion go to waste: snag a Belly Bandit® Belly Shield™ to keep creams on your skin throughout the day. Belly Bandit® Silicone Skin Defense are easy to wear and can target specific areas of concern, too.
Stretch marks are actually a scar, so they will most likely be permanent. But, if you want to know how to get rid of stretch marks as much as possible, you can treat them like any scar.
You can manage and treat your stretch marks as you are healing. Keep them moist (that’s where the Belly Bandit® Belly Shield™ and Belly Bandit® Silicone Skin Defense come into play again!), and you can even talk to your primary doctor or dermatologist for specific creams to treat them.
While it might feel like stretch marks are an inevitable, unavoidable part of pregnancy, you can take steps and plan ahead to give your skin its best chance at staying pliable. Remember to exercise, eat healthfully, and moisturize every day to keep your dermis and epidermis stretchy and hydrated, and you’ll know you’ve done everything you could to prevent pregnancy stretch marks.
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