Mother Self-care: How to Make Stretch Mark Less Noticeable

Stretch marks. Tiger Stripes. Battle Scars. Whatever you choose to call them, most women experience stretchmarks with pregnancy. Stretch marks occur when skin stretches rapidly. Since your baby bump will bloom seemingly overnight, there is no surprise that it will often grow a few stretch marks as well. Many women feel self-conscious by these stretchmarks. Getting rid of them is nearly impossible, but you can improve skin elasticity which may prevent them or minimize them after you have them.

Preventing Stretch Marks

While stretch marks are not always preventable, you can take steps to minimize them or possibly prevent them. Some women do not experience stretchmarks during pregnancy and other women feel that they got a million. Understanding where they come from can help you understand how to prevent them.

Stretch marks show up for various reasons. They can develop during puberty, pregnancy, or any time you gain weight rapidly. For many women, developing stretchmarks is genetic. If the women in your family are prone to them, you probably will be too. In pregnancy, most women find them on their stomachs, but thighs, breasts, and arms are also common places to find stretchmarks. Sometimes you will get them in one place but not another. For example, I get them on my thighs, but rarely get them on my stomach. I have two kids and nearly no stretchmarks on my stomach. However, my thighs look like an abstract drawing of the tree of life. Maps of Manhattan have fewer lines. My mother and sister have few stomach stretchmarks as well. We each have two children.

Women with mild genetic disposition to stretchmarks may still experience them if their skin is dry or unhealthy. Dry skin loses elasticity. When the skin loses elasticity, it causes small tears in the middle layers of skin. As these tears grow, stretch marks become more noticeable. In this case, it is possible to minimize or slow their appearance by caring for your skin. While you are pregnant, you may use some products safely without doctor’s approval, but some treatments will require you too seek their advice. Most prevention treatments are natural or generally safe. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Moisturize

Moisturizing your skin can go a long way in preventing stretchmarks. Since healthy, nourished skin is more elastic, it will stretch with less tearing of the middle layers of skin. Most lotions that you can purchase at any retailer should be safe for use on your skin, but you should always check the ingredients. Keeping your skin moist will keep its flexibility. Cocoa butter is a popular ingredient for women facing pregnancy related stretchmarks. Lotions containing this ingredient are generally deemed safe.

Hydration

Staying hydrated will help you avoid stretch marks from dried out skin. Drinking water throughout your pregnancy is recommended anyway. Hydration will help regulate blood pressure, maintain healthy skin, and prevent headaches. There are many ways that you can hydrate, though water is generally preferred. Juice and other drinks can also help keep you hydrated. You will want to minimize your caffeine and sugar intake, during pregnancy, nonetheless.

Watch Your Weight

Yes, you should gain weight during pregnancy, but you do not need to gain 100 pounds. Most doctors recommend less than 30 pounds of weight gain even if you are thin before pregnancy begins. Gaining a reasonable amount of weight during pregnancy can prevent the skin from stretching too quickly. After all, rapid stretching is what causes stretchmarks.

Get Your Vitamins

Vitamin A has been touted as a treatment for stretchmarks on skin. While this is usually an ingredient in the lotion, making sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet free from excessive salt or other drying ingredients and full of healthy nutrients, you will find that your skin is healthier and more supple.

Postnatal Solutions

So, what happens if you were not as good to your skin as you should have been during pregnancy? Sometimes, no matter how good you are to your skin, stretchmarks show up. When they first appear, they are often red or purple and very noticeable. The good news is that the purple lines do not last forever.

Moisturize

Wait, didn’t we cover this already? Yes, but, healthy conditioned skin will heal faster than dry, damaged skin. Similar lotions to those you used during pregnancy should be fine postnatally. However, if you are practicing skin to skin contact with your baby, make sure that the lotions are safe for baby as well. While you will not be using the lotions on the baby, the residue can transfer. You would not want to harm the baby.

Laser Treatments

Some women opt for laser skin treatments to fix the discoloration to skin caused by pregnancy mask or darkened stretchmarks. This treatment does not necessarily “cure” the stretchmarks, but it can speed the lightening process. Lighter stretchmarks are less noticeable. These treatments can be costly, and you should get clearance from your doctor before beginning. You also need to know what must be done between visits and what recovery for these treatments means.

Chemical Peels

These must be performed by a dermatologist or other physician. They consist of applying acid to the skin and peeling back layers of dead skin to make room for new skin. The appearance of scars fades using this treatment, but it can be harsh and painful.

Microdermabrasion

This is like a super exfoliation treatment for the skin. The treatment consists of scrubbing away dead layers of skin to reveal newer, healthier skin. It does not use chemicals, so it may be less painful for some users.

Combinations

Some dermatologists may do chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments as combinations. They may also try one and if it is not working suggest other treatments. These treatments, again, may be costly. Since dermatology visits may be covered under insurance plans, you may check to see if they cover these treatments for the removal or reduction of stretchmarks.

Time

Wait a while. Stretchmarks generally lighten over time. If you are not going to be wearing a bikini in the near months, you might just choose to wait and let nature run its course. However, for some women, these marks are a source of anxiety.

Cosmetics

While not suggested, you could use cosmetics to cover discolored skin. It will not cure or remove discolorations, but it can cover them up.

Specialized Lotions and Creams

Like the above dermatology treatments, there are some creams, lotions, and chemicals that can be purchased either over the counter or with a prescription. These are much stronger than typical lotion used for moisturizing skin. If you want to use one of these lotions, you will need doctor’s approval. Even over the counter products can be harmful to your baby if you touch them with the cream on your hands. Likewise, some of the remedies could make your baby sick if ingested through breastfeeding (residue left on the breast).

Home Remedies

Some women swear by home remedies, and they may work. The biggest reason that they work is that they moisturize the skin. Here are a few that you may opt to try.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil massaged onto the skin can help the skin heal from extreme dryness which can prevent or lighten stretchmarks, theoretically.

Aloe

Aloe has been hailed for its skin healing capabilities for centuries. Typically used for burns to the skin, it may be able to provide healing moisture for stretchmark plagued skin.

Vitamin C

Like other nutrients, vitamin C has been used to treat ailments since its discovery. The oil can help treat dry cracked skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

Users claim this acid can boost collagen production. The collagen helps skin improve its elasticity.

Final Thoughts

Getting rid of stretchmarks begins with preventing them. Proper health and skin care during pregnancy. You can use home remedies or medical treatments to lighten stretchmarks already present. However, when using harsh chemicals or treatments, you will need to obtain your doctor’s approval or recommendations. Healthy, hydrated skin will show fewer stretchmarks, but remember some women are just genetically more prone to them. Good luck.

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