Written by Pradeep
Pregnancy changes everything – your life, schedules, sleep and the way you look and feel. You might have observed stretch marks in your puberty or other growth spurts as well, so you will know how they look. When pregnant, in the later stages of your pregnancy, (likely during the 6th or the 7th month) you may notice some small depressed streaks of lines on the abdomen, hips, thighs and breasts. When the belly starts to stretch to accommodate a growing baby, it causes the dermis (the middle layer of the skin) to break, and stretch marks appear as pinkish-purplish lines. Stretch marks after delivery can be a cosmetic issue affecting your self-image. Well, do not fret because they are natural in most new mothers. About 90% of all pregnant women end up having stretch marks, marks that indicate that they have created a being. It would help you if you understand what causes stretch marks during pregnancy, and why you should not worry about them.
Medically known as striae gravidarum, stretch marks during pregnancy are only natural when you consider the amount of expansion your belly skin has to undertake during pregnancy! Our skin has primarily three layers – the epidermis (outermost), the dermis (middle layer) and the sub cutis (innermost layer). When the baby grows, the super-stretching of the skin results in a dermal breakup at pressure points. The breaking of the dermis layer causes your body to accumulate collagen in there as a matter of fixing the broken skin. The collagen deposits show up as the stretch marks.
Statistically, half of pregnant women develop these marks of pride. It’s hard to say whether or not one will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Yet some factors do put you at having higher chances of getting them.
Genetics is a major factor to consider when we speak of pregnancy stretch marks. Many women, who have had mothers sailing through pregnancies scar free, are likely not to have stretch marks during their own pregnancies as well. If your skin expands suddenly and rather rapidly, you are likely to develop stretch marks.
Some other factors that make you susceptible to developing stretch marks are:
A pregnant belly would likely be itchy as your pregnancy progresses, owing to the stretching of the skin and the dryness adding to it. Though very natural, an itchy skin can be prevented by using milder soaps, refraining from wearing tight clothes and taking hot baths, and by applying lots of lotions to keep the skin supple and soft. Avoid alcohol bases skin products and water laden with chlorine. Apply a nice moisturizer after patting your skin gent;y dry, but still slightly moist. If you have persistent itching, do see your doctor.
As a matter of fact, nothing much can be done to prevent stretch marks. The only way to prevent them would be to gain no more than the exact weight required, and not gaining too much of it suddenly. Mind you, stretch marks are here to stay – all those lotions, and creams etc may help to moisturize and keep itching in control, but stretch marks are not affected by them. They will fade away gradually, but never completely disappear. Some women are lucky to do not have them naturally. Most have to bear with these natural ‘battle scars’ on their bodies which will become less visible 6-8 months post delivery. Depending on your skin color, the pigmentation will fade and they will become lighter than surrounding skin.
However, you can try to reduce them by keeping your pregnancy weight gain under check, and by eating a healthy balanced diet comprising of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Keep your skin supple and well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Read more about weight gain during pregnancy here.
Doctors suggest natural treatments are far better than applying topical ointments, especially if you are breastfeeding. Avoid applying vaseline even as it is essentially ‘petroleum jelly’. The chemicals do seep through the pores of the skin to assimilate in your body. You have to avoid these from entering the elixir of natural milk for your baby.
Unfortunately, stretch marks are going to stay, though they may look like dull, greyish-silverish lines once you deliver your baby. Look up the following simple remedies to have the stretch marks fade.
Ladies, you need to realize that stretch marks do not make you ugly! In fact, a real lover may find these ‘scars’ as beautiful lines to kiss gently! Although the above remedies work wonders, yet you may have vague stretch lines always. Accepting these marks is a part of being a mother.
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