Hands up if you’re reading this and are pregnant and paranoid about stretch marks? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Pregnancy stretch marks are likely to happy to 90% of women. In a study, 43% of pregnant participants developed stretch marks before their 24 weeks gestation and a few women didn’t develop stretch marks at all which suggests that some people’s family history and genetics play a role. You may be one of the lucky few to get out of ‘tiger stripes’, but it’s okay because there are other ways to help lessen stretch marks.

 

But let’s first start with what stretch marks are. Also known as striae distensae, they affect the skin and are commonly found in men, women and even children. They present themselves as linear smooth white lines, most often on the breasts, bottom, thighs and around the stomach. It’s a type of scarring which is often red to start with, before it fades to white or silver lines.

 

Whilst it may not be possible to prevent stretch marks completely, there are definitely ways to help reduce them. And what’s important to remember is that stretch marks aren’t bad for your health.

 

Keep weight gain to a minimum

It’s normal and expected to put on weight during pregnancy and it’s not advised to restrict calories. However, it’s also a myth that you have to eat for two – especially during your first trimester when your calorie intake shouldn’t exceed what you normally eat. It’s only in the second and third trimester that you can increase your calories, but even then, it’s minimal – by approximately 200 calories a day. Putting weight on quickly can cause the middle layer of skin, the dermis, to break in places as it is stretched.

 

 

Eat ‘skin’ food

Sadly, it’s impossible to eat your way out of stretch marks, but you can indulge in foods which are nourishing for the skin. For example, vitamin C is essential for skin cell production and can also help increase skin-elasticity. Vitamin E helps repair damaged skin and is considered essential for skin-health. Also include foods that contain vitamin A as this encourages formation of new skin cells and protect skin-health. Zinc-rich foods are also beneficial as this helps formation of collagen which is in part, responsible for the stretchiness of skin and also how likely you are to develop stretch marks.

 

  • Foods rich in vitamin C: Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges, berries, kiwi, bell peppers, melon and strawberries.
  • Foods rich in vitamin E: Nuts, seeds, avocados, nut butters, cooked tomatoes and oat bran.
  • Foods including vitamin A: Bright orange fruits and vegetables (e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe), pumpkin, apricots, tuna and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale.
  • Foods rich in zinc: Lean meat, raisins, beans, lentils, bananas.

 

Moisturise!

If your skincare regime doesn’t normally include your stomach, thighs or breasts, then it’s time to start! Make sure you moisturise twice a day to get the best results. There are oils you can use, as well as serums and creams. Creams have the added bonus of not leaving stains on clothing. We have a range of creams suitable throughout and after pregnancy for mums, including the –TEN- Stretch Mark Prevention & Reduction cream which contains many nourishing ingredients which all work together for softer, supple skin. For example avocado oil, shea butter and sweet almond oil which are all rich in vitamin E.

 

Keep nails away

Don’t scratch! It will be tempting to scratch around areas which are being stretched, such as your breasts or your stomach, especially as the skin gets tight, but try to resist. It’ll only make skin dry and could cause pain or infection. Cut those nails and keep hands away! It can also help to put something cool over itchy skin too.

 

Drink lots

It’s important to remember to drink lots of fluid during pregnancy anyway, but keeping hydrated will nourish cells and skin. Dry skin can cause itching and this can exacerbate stretch marks.

 

Whether you get stretch marks or not, the main point is to embrace them – they’re your motherhood stripes!

 

-TEN- Sound Skincare Science supports mums and babies during and after pregnancy.

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