All About Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Most women get stretch marks during pregnancy. They’re a sign that your skin has stretched as your body grows to accommodate your baby. You can't completely prevent stretch marks from appearing, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the chances of getting them. But don’t worry too much, because stretch marks usually fade with time.

What Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are striations or streaky indentations in the skin that can be pink, red, purple, or brown. The medical term is striae gravidarum, which is Latin for stripes of pregnancy. They are very common, and typically appear on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, buttocks, and even upper arms.

Genetics plays a role in whether you get stretch marks, and how visible they are. If you have fair skin, they may be more visible. You are also more likely to get them if you are a young mom, if you put on a lot of weight quickly during the pregnancy, or if you are expecting twins or multiples. Other indicators of susceptibility include if you’ve had these marks before being pregnant, or if other members of your family have them. Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can also make skin a little thinner, making some women more susceptible.

When Do Stretch Marks Appear in Pregnancy?

You might be wondering when stretch marks appear during pregnancy, but it can be different for everyone. Stretch marks often appear later during pregnancy as the skin stretches as a result of weight gain and to accommodate the growing baby and uterus. Some women will start to get them in the second trimester, others might see them at around 30 weeks pregnant, and still others may not notice them until the last few weeks of the third trimester. Some women don’t get any at all.

How to Avoid Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to completely prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, and there’s no miracle stretch mark cream that makes them go away. Here are some ways to help reduce the risk of getting them and to help minimize their appearance:

  • Keep weight gain at a moderate amount (about 25 to 30 pounds), and try to gain this weight gradually over the course of the pregnancy. Following a healthy pregnancy diet will help.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Keep going with your pregnancy exercise regimen.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure.
  • To help prevent stretch marks on your breasts, wear a well-fitting, supportive bra.
  • Although using creams and oils may not prevent stretch marks, they can help hydrate your skin and prevent itchy skin, a pregnancy symptom you might also notice as your skin stretches.

Is It Possible to Get Rid of Stretch Marks After Pregnancy?

Stretch marks may not disappear totally, but after the pregnancy is over, they can eventually fade to a less noticeable, silver color. Be mindful of any misleading claims about creams, lotions, and oils promising to remove or prevent stretch marks. Some women consider laser treatment in consultation with their doctors, but do keep in mind that this treatment is typically considered a cosmetic procedure, so the cost may not be covered by your insurer.

You might be worried about the changes your body goes through during pregnancy, but your body’s doing an incredible job protecting your little one as he gets ready to meet the world. These stripes are a testament to all you’ve done.

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