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Dealing with bodily changes becomes quite commonplace once you become pregnant, and even after having your baby. From weight gain to changes in breast size to a bunch of things you didn’t think possible, your body goes through a whole lot to create and sustain life. Now, when we say ‘a whole lot’, these changes can range from severe medical conditions to little things that may (or may not!) irk you just a bit – and stretch marks fall in the latter category!
What Are Stretch Marks?
When your skin stretches or shrinks too quickly, owing to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss, growth spurts, and other such causes, it leads to the formation of scars known as stretch marks. This occurs because the fibres collagen and elastin, which help keep your skin taut, stretch and break when the skin goes through rapid changes due to the above-mentioned causes. They appear as long, narrow stripes on the skin, which start off as reddish or purplish in colour, then slowly fade out. While fading, they can either disappear completely or stick around as visible lines.
Now, sporting your stretch marks is a matter of personal choice. If you’re proud of them – given that they’re a sign of what your body went through to gift you your little one – flaunt them in all their glory! But if your stretch marks make you uncomfortable, you can always take the following measures to minimise their appearance.
Ways to Minimise Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
It’s important to keep in mind that the occurrence of stretch marks is also largely genetic – if your mother or grandmother has had them, chances are you’ll see them on your body too. Therefore, it’s important to note that the earlier you start work on reducing them, the more effective the results will be. Keeping that in mind, here are a few ways to try and minimise those lines on your body!
1. Start early!
When we say early, we mean as soon as those pink lines appear on your pregnancy test! Stretch marks mostly appear on areas where large amounts of fat are stored, such as the breasts, thighs, lower back, and buttocks. So once your pregnancy is confirmed, start applying a moisturising cream on these areas to improve the elasticity of the skin, to help prevent stretch marks right from the get-go. A good option is Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks, which is a unique blend of pure cocoa butter, Vitamin E, shea butter, and bio c-elaste. These ingredients keep the skin soft and supple, increase skin elasticity, and help improve the appearance of the scars, making your skin look even-toned and leaving it feeling buttery-soft! Using it three times a day, especially at bedtime, should do the trick!
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Stretch marks can appear because of rapid weight gain, which will definitely occur during pregnancy. It’s obvious that there will be one part of your body that will keep increasing in size and weight when you’re pregnant, which means you can surely expect stretch marks to show up on that area i.e., the tummy! That said, maintaining a healthy weight overall will be helpful in preventing stretch marks on other parts of the body (such as your arms and thighs) to an extent, as well.
3. Eat a nutrient-rich diet.
How can you stick to maintaining a healthy weight? With the right food, of course! Fruits, veggies, fish, meat, eggs – if it’s healthy, it’s gotta be on your plate! Foods rich in Vitamin C, D, E, zinc, and protein should form an important part of your diet. Vitamin C, in particular, is a great source of collagen, which promotes the elasticity of the skin, so make sure you consume plenty of citrus fruits too. Similarly, zinc is a great nutrient to prevent the inflammation of your skin, which is why eating foods like nuts and fish may help as well. Control your portions and eat according to your doctor’s instructions, to ensure that you keep your weight in check.
4. Drink up!
Remember how we mentioned that it’s important your skin stays hydrated so that it retains its elasticity? Applying a moisturising cream aside, drink plenty of fluids on a daily basis to make sure your body is hydrated from within. While it does depend on your body and its requirements, the general rule of thumb for pregnant women is to drink about 1.5 litres of water a day, and to increase the amount slightly once the third trimester begins. Apart from water, fruit juices, smoothies, and flavoured teas (if advised by your doctor) are a great way to stay hydrated and give your skin some love from within!
5. Don’t forget to exercise!
While it hasn’t been proven without a doubt that exercise helps prevent or gets rid of stretch marks, a healthy amount of physical activity is always recommended for pregnant women. When a healthy diet is supplemented with ample exercise, you can be sure that your weight can be kept in check. As for your skin, it helps increase the blood flow to your skin and nourish the skin cells, thereby dialling up that pregnancy glow!
6. Massage your skin regularly.
Applying a moisturising cream is one thing. However, spend a few extra minutes really massaging a dollop of Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks on the areas that call for your attention, so that your skin can really soak in all that necessary moisture. It keeps the skin moisturised and supple for up to 48 hours, allowing the skin to stretch easily without scarring. Bonus – it helps alleviate that pesky itch that occurs when your skin stretches!
7. Get some sun!
Maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D in the body has also been said to improve skin health, keeping it safe from conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema. Apart from including fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, and orange juice in your diet, get out and bask in the natural sunlight (when it isn’t too harsh, of course!) for a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
What You Can Do Post Delivery to Minimise Stretch Marks
More often than none, stretch marks once formed don’t disappear entirely. At most, they reduce in the severity of appearance, fading away slowly to become less visible. But once they become white or mature, getting rid of them, even with sophisticated treatments, is extremely difficult. This ideally means that in the case of stretch marks, prevention is cure – as soon as they appear and are fresh on your skin, make sure you follow preventive measures to minimise their appearance.
Post pregnancy (and otherwise), following a healthy diet and continuing with a recommended amount of exercise is always key to maintaining your health. Also, don’t neglect skin care once you’ve had your baby! Keeping your skin hydrated is super important, especially after pregnancy – ensure that you give it the TLC it deserves after all that it’s been through! As for areas where stretch marks will be most commonly seen, massage the skin with a hypoallergenic, dermatologist-approved cream such as Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks. If your stretch marks make you uncomfortable, you can always cover them up with appropriate clothing or with makeup as well.
‘If you got it, flaunt it!’ may not necessarily apply in every case and to every woman, and that’s totally okay. Remember, whether you want to show off your stretch marks proudly or conceal them as and when you please is totally up to you!