Stretch marks occur when the skin’s collagen and elastin production cannot keep up with rapid growth. Any condition or activity that causes the skin to expand quickly - such as rapid growth or weight gain, pregnancy, and heavy weight training - can contribute to stretch mark formation. Stretch marks generally fade with time and become less noticeable with proper treatment.
While most dermatologists agree that your genes do play a major role in determining your skin’s susceptibility of forming stretch marks during pregnancy, natural stretch mark prevention methods can help. By keeping your skin moisturized and providing your body with the hydration and nutrition it needs during pregnancy you can decrease your chance of stretch marks.
Drinking more water is common advice from dermatologists to those seeking prevention methods for skin conditions ranging from stretch marks to wrinkles. Drinking lots of water hydrates your skin from the inside out.
Drinking enough water during pregnancy will not only help prevent stretch marks from forming, but will assist in the many changes a woman’s body will go through. When the skin is properly hydrated collagen and elastin production can occur. Staying hydrated will help the skin repair minor stretches and damage before they become noticeable.
Pregnant women need to drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water per day and should aim for drinking up to 12 glasses, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Proper hydration also assists in kidney and liver function for the mother and fetus, supports the increase of blood volume, and aids in adequate breastmilk production.
To ensure you drink enough fluids throughout your pregnancy, be sure to keep water and low-calorie beverages at hand. Bring a stainless steel water bottle along to work or when out running errands. You should drink two full 32-oz. water bottles in a day. To increase appeal, try adding lemon or orange slices to the water. Other tasty ways to get your fluids include drinking teas and 100% juice. Try to stay away from the dehydrating effects of caffinated beverages like coffee and soft drinks.
Watch Your Weight Gain
Your skin can adjust to your growing pregnant belly if the growth happens at a manageable rate. Rapid weight gain or gaining too much weight puts you at risk for developing stretch marks. Aim to gain about 25-30 pounds during your pregnancy (unless you’re carrying multiples). Your doctor or midwife can help you set weight-gain goals per month to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Cocoa Butter, Vitamin E, and Stretch Mark Creams - Do They Work?
Cocoa butter has a long-standing reputation of preventing stretch marks. While medical studies on cocoa butter’s effectiveness are not conclusive, anecdotal evidence from women around the world and across generations support it’s use in stretch mark prevention.
Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from the cacao bean, which is used to make chocolate. As an all-natural (and edible!) substance, cocoa butter is safe to use on the skin during pregnancy. To help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, massage cocoa butter into the skin daily as your belly grows. You may also want to apply cocoa butter to your breasts to prepare the skin for breast engorgement.
Vitamin E capsules can be punctured and massaged into the skin to help prevent stretch marks. A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E helps neutralize free radicals that cause damage the collagen and elastin in the skin.
You’d be wise to not spend loads of money on expensive stretch mark creams that claim to be the answer to stretch mark prevention. No conclusive evidence supports the use of fancy, pricey creams. Stick to hydrating your body by drinking lots of water during pregnancy, and use all-natural cocoa butter and Vitamin E to help your skin stay soft.