Pregnancy Stretch Marks – Causes, Prevention & Remedies

Effective Tips To Remove Stretch Marks After Delivery

As a new mom, you may be upset by the appearance of belly stretch marks, although they are not a health hazard for you in any way. Though these are predominantly visible on the stomach and breasts, they can find their way onto your thighs and upper arms too. Remember, these marks will fade over time and do not cause any permanent damage.

Video: 5 Effective Home Remedies for Pregnancy Stretch Marks

What Are Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

The long and narrow lines that develop on the skin, especially after pregnancy, are known as stretch marks. During pregnancy, a woman can gain up to 15 kilos in weight as the baby grows. The areas around the stomach, breasts and hips are most affected, and this is why stretch marks usually develop in these areas, stomach stretch marks being the most common. These marks are caused because your body is growing faster than the skin and the fibres beneath the skin break due to the stretching. Though stretch marks do not pose any medical problems; they are more of a concern from the aesthetic point of view during and after pregnancy.

Chances of Getting Stretch Marks Post Pregnancy

More than 90% of pregnant women get tummy stretch marks, mostly during the third trimester, so you are definitely not alone. Women gain a lot of weight (between 15-18 kilos) during pregnancy, and if this weight gain rate is rapid, the body skin is unable to adjust to this growing weight, and stretch marks appear.

  • A few reports suggest that the appearance of stretch marks during or after pregnancy could be genetically linked. There is a likelihood of you getting them if your mother has had them, so make sure you check with her to have a fair idea of what’s in store for you.
  • Depending on your skin colour and complexion, the colour of the stretch marks will vary. Fair women develop pink coloured stretch marks, while dark-skinned women get lighter marks than their skin colour.
  • Women with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) are prone to having more stretch marks than those with lower BMI.

However, it is difficult to predict just how stretch marks will pan out for you. You could be one of those women who are not subjected to stretch marks at all. Many women have acknowledged that they never took any steps to prevent these and yet never faced this natural occurrence during pregnancy.

Causes of Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

Scientifically speaking, our skin is an amalgamation of three layers: the hypodermis or subcutaneous (the deepest layer), the dermis (the middle layer) and the epidermis (the uppermost layer). The stretch marks that you see are formed on the dermis when rapid contraction or expansion causes the skin to test its elasticity to the limit. Stretch marks caused during pregnancy are generally due to quick weight gain or burgeoning of the baby inside. The dermis below the topmost layer of your skin tears which exposes the layer beneath and thus causes stretch marks.

Stretch marks are a direct result of the expansion or stretching of the skin as you gain weight and your body bloats during pregnancy. Remember, your body is trying to make as much space as possible for your baby, and this leads to a constant tugging and stretching which leads to pregnancy stretch marks.

  • You may gain a lot of weight over a short period, and this could cause stretch marks
  • You may be carrying more than one baby, and this could be the reason for over-stretching of skin and subsequent stretch marks
  • You could be carrying a large-sized baby
  • The loss of elasticity of your skin could occur since your body may be producing a higher level of cortisone, a naturally-produced hormone during this delicate period
  • Application of corticosteroid creams and lotions can also cause stretch marks to appear over your body. These are anti-inflammatory medicines that the doctor may have prescribed to you for conditions like asthma, skin diseases or arthritis
  • Hormonal changes occurring in the body during pregnancy can also be a contributing factor for stretch marks

Are Stretch Marks After Delivery Preventable?

Pregnancy stretch marks can be prevented from appearing if necessary steps are taken early during the pregnancy. A few lifestyle changes and increased focus on skincare can help prevent the occurrence of stretch marks.

  • While you follow a strict diet regimen to ensure your baby gets the best of nutrition, also incorporate food that can help improve your skin’s elasticity. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin E & A and omega 3 can prevent stretch marks from appearing. Include some of these foods in your diet after having a discussion with your doctor: citrus fruits like oranges, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water every day. You can also stay hydrated by consuming healthy foods and drinks such as cucumber, yoghurt and watermelon
  • Pregnancy yoga, stretches, Kegel exercises and other low impact exercises are highly recommended to help the skin retain its elasticity and improve blood circulation

How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

The appearance of stretch marks over the body can cause considerable stress to many women. Some others may take it in their stride and accept it as a part of the makeover they received since they became a mom. However, many new mothers do wonder if there are solutions to eliminate stretch marks after pregnancy.

Studies have shown that given time, these stretch marks can disappear or at least lighten enough to not be noticeable. If you are keen to wear all the clothes you did before pregnancy, then you may want to get rid of those stretch marks and gain your confidence back. The internet is full of well-meaning advice and tips to remove stretch marks after the baby is delivered. Below is a look at some of the recommended home remedies and alternative treatments for stretch mark removal.

Infographics: Stretch Marks

Stretch Marks After Delivery

Home Remedies for Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the mother’s body, with weight gain and subsequent change in body shape being the most obvious ones. When stretch marks appear during the last trimester of the pregnancy, you rush to the older generation of mothers and grandmothers, hoping to find a quick cure for them. There are quite a few home remedies that can help an expectant mother or a new mother to lighten stretch marks to a great extent. Read on to find a recipe for the best lotion for stretch marks!

Home Remedies for Pregnancy Stretch Marks

1. Home-made Moisturiser

The application of moisturiser over the body can help in keeping your skin smooth and supple and help it regain its elasticity. Here it is important to ascertain your skin type before choosing to make a moisturiser at home. If you have combination or dry skin, mix aloe vera gel, wheat germ oil and olive oil in equal proportions and use it to massage the areas affected by stretch marks. Moisturisers that contain cocoa butter are also ideal if your skin is dry. Use the above mix with clay if you have oily skin.

2. Home-made Cream

Mix two tablespoons of grated beeswax and one tablespoon of Vitamin E oil in half-a-cup of cocoa butter. Adding wheat germ oil and apricot kernel oil in suitable quantities will also help. Boil this mixture till the beeswax is completely melted. Store this cream in a bottle and refrigerate it for daily use.

3. Home-made Lotion

Mix a quarter cup of aloe vera gel with half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil together and add oil from six Vitamin E and four vitamin-A capsules. Store this natural stretch marks cream in a glass container or bottle in a refrigerator and use it for your daily massage.

4. Alfalfa

Alfalfa leaves are known for their anti-fungal properties which help to detoxify the skin and are a reliable source of Vitamin E, proteins and amino acids. All these properties work wonders in healing the pregnancy stretch marks the natural way. Mixing alfalfa powder with chamomile oil helps to create a smooth paste that is easy to apply. This home-made paste can be applied twice or thrice a day, and you will notice its effect within a couple of weeks.

5. Turmeric and Sandalwood

Known for their ability to brighten and smoothen the skin, turmeric and sandalwood work well on the pregnancy stretch marks when used as a combination. Sandalwood paste can be prepared by rubbing the sandalwood stick on a rough surface and adding a spoonful of water. Similarly, fresh turmeric paste can be ground and mixed with the sandalwood paste. The paste has to be applied and left to dry before washing it off for best results.

6. Apricot

Deseed the apricot and cut it into small pieces before putting it in a blender to create a smooth paste. Apply it on your stretch marks and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.

7. Keep Your Body Hydrated

By consuming a minimum of 10-12 glasses of water during the day, your skin remains well-hydrated, supple, and retains its elasticity, thus helping to lighten the stretch marks. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep the skin hydrated and remove unwanted toxins from the body. Avoid consumption of caffeine and aerated drinks during this period as they act as dehydrating agents.

8. Oil treatment

There are many proven pregnancy oil for stretch marks which when massaged over a period of time help reduce stretch marks. The following oils play a vital role in eliminating stretch marks.

9. Olive Oil

Known for its exfoliating and moisturising properties, olive oil is an effective medium that improves blood circulation and is perfect to lighten stretch marks. Massaging olive oil on the affected area 30 minutes before a warm water bath is highly recommended.

10. Castor Oil

Apply castor oil over the stretch marks and use circular motions to help the oil soak into the area. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes and then place a plastic sheet over the skin before rolling a hot water bottle over it. This helps the oil to penetrate into the skin as the heat opens up the pores. This can be done on a daily basis for effective results.

11. Essential Oils

Add a few drops of essential oils like lavender, geranium or rose to any oil that you use regularly like olive or castor oil and massage it for 30 minutes on the stretch marks. Mothers have experienced marked improvements in the texture and shade of the stretch marks after regular use.

Alternative Treatments for Stretch Marks After Having a Baby

When it comes to stretch marks, doctors usually recommend trying natural remedies over medical treatments. However, you could explore the following for really quick results, after consulting your medical practitioner:

Alternative Treatments for Stretch Marks After Having a Baby

1. Stretch Marks Removal Creams

The primary purpose of a stretch mark removal cream is to smoothen the affected area and work on the pigmentation. The cream consists of retinol, collagen, elastin, jojoba oil, cocoa butter or shea butter and Vitamin E oils which are effective in removing the stretch marks after pregnancy.

2. Tretinoin Cream

This is a highly effective cream to remove stretch marks in a short period. This is recommended if you are not breastfeeding the baby, as some studies suggest it can be absorbed into the breast milk.

3. Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid can improve skin elasticity and increase the production of collagen, thus reducing the appearance of stretch marks on your body. It is recommended to discuss in detail with your doctor before starting the treatment.

4. Laser Therapy

For those who can afford it and are willing to undergo it, laser therapy is a quick, effective, albeit costly, treatment for stretch marks. Through this treatment, it is possible to remove all kinds of stretch marks – both old and new. It is a permanent treatment where skin tissues are removed, vaporised, and broken down to improve cell production. There may be some side effects to this treatment, such as redness, itching and swelling that last for a few days.

Do Stretch Marks Fade Away After Childbirth?

Since stretch marks are simply scars that have appeared on the body due to stretching of the skin, they are not infectious like acne and cause no harm or pain to the body. Over a period, these stretch marks fade and lose their original reddish or pink colour to turn into a white scar, even fading into oblivion. Studies have shown that these marks can fade and disappear as time goes by.

Stretch marks are a natural occurrence during pregnancy, and many women are affected by this condition. There are no magic cures available to treat stretch marks overnight, and the best treatments for stretch marks after delivery (described above) take time to work. So, you will have to be patient if you are keen on a permanent solution. By having a balanced diet, controlling weight gain and keeping your body hydrated, it is possible to keep the stretch marks away after childbirth.

Also Read:

Drinking Cold Water Safe After Delivery
Your First Postpartum Poop
Tips for Recovering From Pain After Delivery

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