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Pregnancy Related Stretch Marks

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 14 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Stretch Marks Skin Elasticity Hydration

One of the most unfortunate side-effects of carrying a baby during pregnancy is the occurrence of stretch marks. While it can help to have a positive attitude towards them and embracing them as a healthy part of having a baby, they can be quite severe in some cases and for many, a permanent fixture.

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are a form of scarring of the skin that happen as the skin becomes over-stretched. During pregnancy or when a person has put on a lot of weight or lost it too quickly, the skin finds it difficult to accommodate to the rapidly changing size and shape of the body.

If the changes occur over a short space of time, the skin can ‘split’ to some degree leaving red lines as a result. These lines can initially be quite long, wide and sometimes raised and while some people only have a few, others may find they are affected quite a lot more. The texture and the colour of your skin may produce a slightly different type of stretch mark than others.

Where do Stretch Marks Appear?

Stretch marks are most commonly found on the abdomen, thighs, inner upper arms and on the breast though they can appear anywhere on the body.

Pregnant women usually find that their breasts, hips and abdomen are the worst affected areas and though they can appear at any time during the pregnancy, it is most common to experience them during the last three months as this is the time when the baby grows at the fastest rate ready for birth.

Can I Prevent Them?

The subject of stretch mark prevention has always been a topic of much debate and most experts believe that in most cases, prevention may not be possible though there may be ways of minimising them.

People do tend to agree however, that if your own mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, the chances of you developing them are higher. This does not necessarily mean that you won’t get them if your mother didn’t have them, but you may be slightly less likely.

Some people do agree that your hydration may play a role in stretch mark development so make sure you take plenty of fluids before and during your pregnancy to keep the skin nourished and hydrated. This can also be accentuated by using good quality moisturisers after bathing to try and encourage water absorption and to try and improve the general elasticity of the skin.

There are also many creams available that aim to prevent stretch marks and often these can be very expensive, but in reality, there are no miracle cures or preventative techniques, and it may be just as beneficial to try to drink plenty of clear fluids, eat a balanced diet and try not to put on too much weight or lose it too quickly before, during and after pregnancy.

Living with Stretch Marks

If you do develop stretch marks don’t panic; the alarming redness and general appearance will change after your baby is born. Most stretch marks do fade within 6-12 months after giving birth and will shrink and fade. They often decrease in length and width taking on a more silvery and less noticeable appearance.

Always remember that most pregnant women get stretch marks somewhere on their body so you are not alone; men can get stretch marks too, so don’t worry.

If you think your stretch marks are more severe than normal, there may be treatments available to you such as removing the top layer of skin by abrasion or using lasers on the affected area. These treatments can be expensive so make sure you do your homework before arranging treatment.

Stretch marks are a natural part of pregnancy for most women and though they can be unpleasant, they will fade and won’t be as noticeable in the future.

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