The skin is an amazing part of our bodies that serves numerous important functions. As the body’s largest organ, it creates an airtight, watertight barrier against our surrounding environment. It also helps to regulate our body temperature, our immune system, and even our body’s vitamin production. But one thing we rarely consider is how our skin’s flexibility allows our bodies to stretch and grow. Our skin’s elasticity is especially important during pregnancy.
On average, a woman will gain 11.65-16 kilograms during nine months of pregnancy. That’s a lot of growth in a short amount of time. To provide room for a growing baby, women’s stomach skin needs to stretch and expand.
It’s common for many women to experience stretch marks as a result of pregnancy. Luckily, with a little understanding of how skin reacts to weight gain and what happens to skin as it stretches, you can take measures to prevent stretch marks (or at least minimize stretch marks) during pregnancy.
- Understand what stretch marks are and what causes them to appear.
- Take careful measures to gain weight gradually and avoid rapid skin stretching.
- Drink plenty of water and take your vitamins to promote healthy skin cells.
- Incorporate moisturizers into your daily skincare routine to keep skin soft.
What are Stretch Marks and What Causes Them?
Stretch marks are long, thin streaks that appear most commonly on the thighs, hips, buttocks, stomach, and chest. They typically occur as a result of rapid weight loss or weight gain, as seen in puberty growth spurts or pregnancy.
Our skin is made up of three main layers. As the body grows, the skin is stretched. When the skin expands past its typical range of elasticity, it is pulled tight and the connective tissue in the dermis (the skin’s middle layer) experiences tiny tears. This allows the skin’s deeper layers to show through as purple or red raised wrinkles on the skin’s surface. Over time, these eventually flatten and fade into a silver or white color.
Although they can be itchy as they appear, stretch marks aren’t harmful or dangerous, and many people see them become less noticeable over time. However, for many women, stretch marks last long after pregnancy and can make them feel self-conscious.
3 Ways to Prevent or Minimize Stretch Marks
While it’s true that anyone can get stretch marks on any part of their body, they’re especially common during pregnancy. Genetics can increase the likelihood that you’ll experience stretch marks, but several other factors contribute to these skin imperfections as well. Here are three ways to prevent or minimize stretch marks during pregnancy.
1. Maintain Healthy Weight Gain
The reason stretch marks are so common during pregnancy is that women gain weight faster than the skin’s elasticity can keep up. By keeping your body from changing too rapidly, you can allow your skin to grow slowly and avoid the dermis tears that fast weight gain can cause.
While there is no single approach that’s right for everyone, medical professionals recommend a general guideline of gaining 0.45 to 1.81 kilograms in the first trimester of pregnancy. The second and third trimesters are when steady weight gain is most important. Gaining 0.45 to 0.9 kilograms per week for the remainder of the pregnancy should provide the growing baby with the right amount of nutrients while maintaining a healthy weight for the expectant mother. Maintain a healthy diet and gain weight appropriately.
2. Care for Your Skin Internally
While most people need to drink more water daily, it’s especially important during pregnancy. In addition to developing amniotic fluid, producing blood, and delivering nutrients to the fetus, hydration helps combat stretch marks. Drinking plenty of water helps to hydrate skin cells, which keeps them soft and pliable. Soft skin isn’t as prone to stretch marks as dry skin. Avoid caffeinated beverages, which can increase your likelihood of getting stretch marks.
Increasing your vitamin C intake can also lessen your chance of stretch marks. Foods like strawberries, citrus, and peppers promote tissue and collagen production. This boosts your skin’s elasticity and strength. Vitamin D found in dairy, eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids can also help offset the effects of stretch marks. Be mindful of the nutrients in your diet and take care to provide your body the things it needs to be healthy and strong.
3. Apply Topical Creams
Since we know softer skin is less likely to experience stretch marks, it’s important to know how to hydrate skin. Consider applying moisturizing topical creams to the surface of a pregnant belly as part of your skincare routine. Although there’s no definitive research proving that such products work, moisturizing stretched skin areas can, at the very least, help with itchy, dry skin that often comes with pregnancy.
Ingredients to look for in a good moisturizer include:
- Hyaluronic acid: Created by the same cells that produce collagen, hyaluronic acid draws moisture to the skin’s surface and retains 1,000 times its weight in water.
- Coconut oil: This provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants that help to repair the skin’s barrier.
- Sugar beet root extract: Beets are chock full of sugars and polysaccharides that help moisturize the skin.
- Propanediol: Found in American corn, this is a moisturizing agent that hydrates the skin and helps to develop the skin’s natural barrier.
- Glycerin: Derived from palm oil, glycerin traps moisture in the skin, allowing cells to hydrate. This results in smooth, supple skin.
The sooner you begin massaging your skin with moisturizer, the better your chance of combatting stretch marks during your pregnancy.
Choose the Right Skincare Products for Your Pregnancy
While our skin is designed to stretch with our growing bodies, too much growth too quickly can result in unsightly and uncomfortable stretch marks. Snowperk understands that every woman’s skincare needs are different. We provide a variety of specially formulated products made with natural and clinically proven ingredients you can trust. Let us help you create the skincare routine that’s best for you.
Ready to choose the right products to nourish your skin during your pregnancy? Identify your skin ID with our simple skin analysis quiz today.