Congratulations on your pregnancy! While you get ready to show off your baby bump, you need to plan ahead to ensure that the bump does not leave much or any of stretch marks once you deliver the baby.
Okay, we admit, most medical experts say that whatever precautions you take, you will still get stretch marks if you are genetically disposed to get them. This is because your genes decide how ‘stretchable’ or ‘elastic’ your skin is – more stretchable/elastic it is, the lesser the chances of getting stretch marks. While this is true, there are quite some things that you can do to improve the elasticity of your skin, thereby decreasing the chances of getting stretch marks. Before we learn how to do lessen our chances of stretch marks, let us first understand them better.
What Are Stretch Marks?
When your body grows in a normal fashion, the skin usually expands slowly in line with the body growth. However, if your body grows faster than the skin can keep up with, then the elastic fibers underneath the skin breaks, leading to stretch marks. This is what happens during pregnancy when you gain 15-25 kgs in a period of just nine months, with most of the growth concentrated near the belly area. This stretches the skin around the belly area too quickly, leading to stretch marks. Though stretch marks are a sign of creation, and you should be proud that your body did create a little being, yet from a cosmetic angel, you may decide to do something about them. You can read more about stretch marks here.
So it is clear that if you can somehow magically make your skin stretch better, then you won’t get much stretch marks. So how do you do it? Read on to find out…
Can I Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Well, here are our top 7 picks to help you prevent, or atleast lessen stretch marks during pregnancy:
- Apply oil: Oils can hydrate the skin wonderfully. They also have antioxidants that can reduce skin damage. The best oils for this are coconut oil, Vitamin E oil, almond oil or bio oil. Pick one that suits your preference and apply on the tummy area and thighs in the morning (after bath) and night. If your skin feels stretchy during the day, increase the frequency of application. Make sure not to massage your stomach while applying oil
- Use cocoa butter or shea butter: Many women swear by cocoa and shea butter for reducing or preventing stretch marks. Buy the same from a good brand (like BodyShop) and apply generously over the tummy from as early as the beginning of second trimester when your bump starts to show
- Do dry-brushing: Buy a good dry brush (many cosmetic shops like Health and Glow stock them), and brush your tummy from bottom to top. It will help exfoliate the skin and keep it healthy and supple. You can follow up this procedure with either oils or cocoa butter application
- Say no to chemicals: Many brands advertise about their products having the capacity to prevent stretch marks. Unfortunately, most or all of these claims are untrue and you are better off not to be fooled by them, or so say the experts. Further, it is also a good idea to stay away from any kind of body products (shower gels, soaps, creams etc.) that have sulphate in them as sulphates are known to cause dryness and reduce the skin elasticity
- Eat a balanced diet: You can eat your way to an elastic skin! There are many benefits to watching what you eat during pregnancy:
- Not overeating or binging would ensure that you do not put on too much weight too fast, hence giving your skin time to catch up to the expansion
- By including more Vitamin C in your diet (seen in citrus fruits, guava, gooseberry, broccoli etc.), you are helping your body create more collagen and cartilage – both of which improves skin elasticity
- By including Zinc in your diet (seen in nuts, eggs, chicken, whole grains etc.), you are again helping your body make more collagen and reduce free radical damage (due to its antioxidant nature)
- By eating more Vitamin E (seen in green leafy vegetables, nuts etc.), you are protecting your cell membranes
- By eating more Omega 3 and Omega 6 rich food (like fish, walnuts, eggs), you are helping your skin glow
- By including Vitamin A (see in carrots, sweet potatoes etc.), you are helping your skin repair
- Hydrate well: More liquids you take, more detox your body will do, leaving your skin hydrated and supple. Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. Include fruits like water melon and cucumbers in your daily diet. Replace your milky-sugary tea/coffee with herbal/green tea
- Do low impact exercises: Try low impact exercises, like Yoga, or walking or simple aerobics designed for pregnant women to keep yourself active and to improve the blood circulation. This will in turn help improve skin elasticity. For more ideas on workout during pregnancy, click here and here
Have a happy pregnancy!