Can Stretch Marks Be Prevented?

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“Stretch Marks are the maps of our children’s womb life etched permanently in the soft folds of our skin”

I’ve always loved this perspective from Rosemary Gladstar on her view of stretch marks, but in reality, most women that I’ve encountered would prefer not to have them and can be quite stressed about getting them.

Striae gravidarum, also known as 'stretch marks', are very common in women who become pregnant. They typically appear in the later months of pregnancy as the baby grows, and there is a sudden growth spurt and stretching of the skin. They can appear as flat red or purple bands, can be slightly raised and are often quite itchy.

Key Factors that Cause Stretch Marks: 

There are a number of factors that play a role in a woman having visible stretch marks. While every woman and woman’s pregnancy is different, here are some key factors that contribute to getting them.

  1. Family history — Genetics often play a role in whether you get stretch marks. If your mom or sister had them, there is a greater likelihood you will as well.
  2. Weight gain — A rapid increase or loss of weight can stretch your skin and result in stretch marks, along with the amount the skin needed to stretch with the growing belly.
  3. Hormones — Changes in estrogen, progesterone and melanocyte stimulating hormone. 
  4. Lifestyle — A woman's level of physical activity, hydration status and current level of proper health and nutrition.

While genetics are mainly blamed on whether one gets stretch marks or not, the other contributing factors should not be ignored. During pregnancy the skin physically has to do a tremendous amount of stretching, tugging and even contracting. The elasticity of the skin (how the skin stretches with the growing belly) can greatly improve the skin’s flexibility and suppleness, helping to decrease or lower the risk of stretch marks. 

A German study suggested that about two thirds of women who did not use massage oil or cream during pregnancy tended to be more prone to getting striae gravidarum. Hence, to prevent stretch marks it is a good idea to keep the skin elastic. If it has natural elasticity, and is kept well lubricated, it can often stretch with a growing belly with little to no signs of wear and tear.

Tips for Stretch Mark Prevention

    1. Lubricate the skin: Massage oils rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E (like our) Belly Jelly over belly, breasts, buttocks and thighs daily. It is preferable after a bath or shower when the skin is still moist so all the oils absorb easily into the skin — Enjoy this time of belly massage as a form of connecting with your unborn baby; taking care of you and the life growing within.
    2. Add Rosehip Seed Oil : Rosehip seed oil is high in vitamin A, C, and E to promote healthy collagen and skin cell formation. It's considered a dry oil which will help balance out the heavier feel of the butters and coconut oil our Belly Jelly.
    3. Start early. The best time to begin applying moisturizer to the skin is at the very beginning of pregnancy or better yet, prior to conception. Don’t forget to continue after the baby is born —as breasts are becoming engorged and the skin of the belly is contracting, it is still a good time to continue to lubricate the skin.
    4. Drink lots of water or other liquids like our Mom To Be Tea. Hydration is essential to the skin’s elasticity and will contribute to its pliability.
    5. Add oils to your bath like our Mineral Soak to continue to lubricate the skin and relax the muscles.
    6. Checking your vitamin D levels. Some studies suggest women with normal values of vitamin D are at lower risk of stretch marks.
    7. Healthy lifestyle: consume a healthy diet rich in healthy fats and dark leafy greens, along with incorporating an exercise regimen like prenatal yoga to regulate weight gain.I highly recommend yogaspace, which has been offering prenatal classes for decades.