Pregnancy brings many body changes, and it isn’t easy to get back to pre-pregnancy shape. Among the most unappealing changes are those dreaded stretch marks.
Stretch marks happen because of rapid changes in your size. They can happen during puberty when body changes happen to breasts and hips, and hormone changes do contribute to the development of stretch marks. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable during the third trimester, because this is the time of the most rapid growth of the baby. Breasts are also growing to accommodate breast milk.
What exactly are stretch marks? It is good to understand why they happen so that you can understand how to best deal with them. Skin has two protein components that affect the appearance and health of the skin. These are elastin and collagen. These proteins are not only in your skin. Elastin is the protein that allows for stretching and movement in skin, and also is an important part of the health of your arteries and joints. Collagen is a protein that contributes to the health and strength of connective tissues in skin, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
During the last trimester of your pregnancy your baby is experiencing rapid growth, and may not allow skin to replenish essential proteins quickly enough to prevent tearing. Stretch marks occur in the second layer of skin, which is called the dermis. Tears in tissue occur and unless there is sufficient protein present to restore the connectivity of tissue and elasticity of the dermis, these can make permanent marks.
All of that is well and fine, but the bottom line is this: how can you prevent stretch marks? There are plenty of so-called remedies out there, but it’s important to remember that most topical solutions will not penetrate deep enough to repair the dermis. Some of the preventive changes need to come from the inside out.
Eating healthy is best during pregnancy anyway, but paying extra attention to your skin’s needs will also benefit your baby. Several nutrients are great for keeping elastin and collagen healthy.
Antioxidants keep your cells cleansed of impurities and growing properly. Eat spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and other fresh fruits and vegetables.
Omega 3 oils help with the overall health of connective tissues. Keeping bad fats out of your system and eating some fish, nuts, and other foods rich in omega 3 will also help the healing property of your skin during the rapid growth of your baby. Remember that if stretch marks can’t be repaired by your own body’s ability to rebuild those connective tissues, they can become permanent.
Vitamin A promotes healing. Carrots, mangoes, squash, and sweet potatoes are some of the foods you can eat to keep your vitamin A levels healthy.
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient for skin health, and while you can apply lotions and oils the best way to keep your skin supplied with the vitamin E it needs is to eat foods like nuts, avocados, and collard greens.
If you have difficulty eating these foods during pregnancy, a supplement may help. Consult your physician about what kinds of supplements would be best. Be careful not to add supplements without the advice of a physician to protect the health of your baby.
Regular exercise keeps the connective tissue in your body, including your skin, working properly. Exercise also promotes good circulation, which will help your skin heal from any stretching that occurs. As with any kind of regimen affecting your health, please consult your physician before beginning exercise. High impact exercise may do more harm than good, but exercises like stretching and yoga will do your body good.
Getting enough fluid to your joints, muscles, and skin is important to your overall health. Water will help the collagen and elastin in your tissues do their work more efficiently. Drinking plenty of fresh water is great for your baby, too.
While stretch marks occur in the second layer of skin, you should still be sure to moisturize properly. After showering and before bed are good times to moisturize because you’re in the mode of dressing and undressing anyway. It is important to know that not just any kind of moisturizing is effective. Here are some tips to help you choose a moisturizer that works, and that you will love.
Avoid chemicals. Fragrances and other additives in lotion will dry your skin. Any odor that isn’t natural to the lotion you’re using contains alcohol, and some emulsifying ingredients (these are the chemicals that give your lotion that smooth, creamy feeling) also have adverse effects on your skin.
Look for creams and butters that are all natural. Cocoa butter, shea butter, and some creams containing oils from nature smell good naturally, feel great on your skin, and penetrate more deeply than synthetic products.
Some women swear by olive oil. While there is no medical proof that olive oil prevents stretch marks, women have been using it for centuries have reported good results. Don’t snub old wives’ tales – sometimes old wives remember things that are good to know!
Be generous, and rub your favorite cream or butter deeply into the tissue. Massaging increases circulation, which will help your skin. Massage your belly, thighs, hips, and breasts.
Stretching occurs in the dermis when weight gain is rapid. That’s why the third trimester is the time that stretch marks are most likely to occur. You don’t want to impede the growth of your baby, but you can take steps to control the weight you gain.
Don’t eat for two! You will want to get your body back in shape after pregnancy anyway, and keeping your weight under control is important. Resist urges to satisfy cravings for fatty foods and sweets.
Certainly you want to treat yourself here and there, but try not to give in to every craving. Your body naturally craves more calories when you are tired or lack energy. Before you eat that chocolate, try a fresh glass of water, or even a nap. You may not really be hungry at all.
Eat quality, not quantity. Remember your nutritional needs. Many of your cravings will be satisfied by giving your body the right vitamins and nutrition, rather than giving in to sweets or fatty foods.
Your pregnancy should be a time of joy and fun, not a time to worry about your body image! Take care of yourself, for the health of your baby, and an easy transition to your pre-pregnancy self after delivery.
The author Sandy Getzky is an associate editor at Stretch Marks Authority, a public health and education startup focused on producing helpful resources concerning the treatment of common ailments. If you are also interested to write for Dailyfitnesstips4u, Please visit our Guest Author Guidelines at write for us.