Women’s body undergo variety of changes during pregnancy. The occurrence of stretch marks visible on the skin in certain area of the body is thus, not an uncommon thing with pregnancy. These stretch marks are visible as lines occurring on the skin of pregnant women’s belly, causing unpleasant cosmetic effect of their appearance. Although stretch marks is considered as a common problem with pregnancy, not all women experience it while pregnant.
Why do stretch marks appear during pregnancy?
Stretch marks, in most cases, starts to occur when the belly grows bigger drastically. The majority of pregnant women notice the appearance of visible stretch marks on the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy—the later trimester. However, some women notice these fine lines from the early period of pregnancy, as soon as their belly starts growing. Women with any skin tones can be susceptible to pregnancy stretch marks. These marks can appear either pinkish or brownish, depending on the skin tone. There are two main risk factors that make expecting mothers prone to stretch marks:
Excessive stretch of the skin during pregnancy
The skin is elastic and thus, it can adjust the size according to your weight. If you are gaining some weight, your skin will eventually adapt to provide adequate stretch supporting your changing size. However, this adjustment does require some time. Quite differently, when a woman is pregnant, the belly grows excessively big in a quite short period of time. The skin, which is trying to adapt this stretch, tears. When skin tears, there are some damaged connective tissues that will appear as fine-line scars we refer as stretch marks. Pregnant women who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, thus, can be more susceptible to stretch marks as their skin tears while trying to adjust the growing belly and this additional weight.
Increased level of hormones during pregnancy
Hormone imbalance and increased hormone level during pregnancy trigger the hormones to attract more water to the skin. Because of this excessive amount of water among the skin’s connective tissues, these tissues are loosened. Collagen tissues are affected and loosened, making it easier for the skin to tear when it is stretched. As the stretch is excessive with the baby’s growth inside the belly, it is easy for these tear scars to occur around the pregnant women’s belly. The scars from this skin tear is known as stretch marks that can be permanent and stay even after delivery.
Do all pregnant women develop stretch marks?
Stretch marks are a common issue among women, and it gets even more common with pregnancy. Despite this, there are some pregnant women who are more susceptible to stretch marks compared to some others. There are some characteristics and conditions making one pregnant woman more prone to stretch marks than the others. Those are:
Family history of stretch marks
Women with mother experiencing excessive stretch mark appearance while pregnant will likely to inherit this characteristic. Thus, stretch marks may easily form during her pregnancy or ordinary rapid weight gain.
Pregnant women with lighter skin tone
Compared to darker-skinned women, pregnant women with lighter complexion are more likely to grow visible stretch marks during pregnancy. Plus, stretch marks are less visible with darker complexion, so that pregnant women with lighter skin seem to develop it more severely.
Those who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy
Some women gain more weight than other women during pregnancy. Their cravings usually affect this. Women craving for sugary treats and foods tend to gain more weight in significantly short period, causing excessive tears of the skin that will occur as visible stretch marks.
What can be done?
Although stretch marks formation seems to be unavoidable for most pregnant women, there are some methods that can be performed to minimize the risk of developing stretch marks during pregnancy. When growing during pregnancy, stretch marks elapse some phases, and it is best to have them treated during their first phase when the lines are still pinkish and fine.
Moisturizing the skin around the belly is essential for it does not only nourish the skin, but also maintains its elasticity, which can minimize the effect of excessive skin stretch during pregnancy.
Keeping the skin hydrated is important to promote skin cell growth that is essential for skin rejuvenation and regeneration. Drink 8 glasses of water or more per day is advised for expecting mothers, as this will also benefit the baby inside the tummy.
Dry brushing is beneficial for shedding dead skin cells and promote proper blood circulation that will minimize the effect of stretch marks during pregnancy.
Mild exercising will keep your skin firm even during pregnancy stretches. Walk, jog, or do yoga for improving your skin health and keep stretch marks minimized.