One of the downsides to being pregnant (other than the mood swings and weight gain) is the development of stretch marks. When the fibers under the skin’s surface are damaged by rapid weight gain, stretch marks can occur.
However, any dermatologists will tell you that moisturizing helps skin retain its elasticity and makes it less likely that it will tear when your mid section expands. Aha! So the key to preventing or minimizing stretch marks during pregnancy is to keep your skin as moisturized and supple as possible.
Keep reading to learn about the best ways to keep your skin healthy to prevent stretch marks as well as post-partum treatment options.
7 Best Ways to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
To use a multifaceted approach to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. And it’s important to note that this may not always be possible. But there ways to keep your skin in the best condition while you’re pregnant to prevent them from developing.
1. Keep hydrated
Healthy skin needs water to stay supple–that’s a fact. Your skin can be kept hydrated by simply drinking enough water. Note that caffeinated drinks like coffee can increase your chances of getting stretch marks, as they dry out your body and skin.
So be sure to stay on top of your fluids during your pregnancy. Even if you prefer tea and lemon water, having at least 60 oz of water a day can help keep skin supple.
2. Take control of your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do in order to avoid stretch marks while you’re pregnant. When your skin is weakened by rapid weight gain, you can get stretch marks–and in some cases, you won’t be able to prevent them as your stomach grows larger each trimester.
This is another reason why it’s best to start your preventative methods as soon as you confirm that you’re pregnant. So try to manage your weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising. Get the thumbs up from your OBGYN (if you’re on bed rest, stay on bed rest).
If you aren’t able to prevent stretch marks, you can always treat them after you give birth. Let’s look at some of the most popular options.
3. Load up on body butter
Apply a rich cream to your skin that will provide lasting hydration in the morning. Body butters contain rich oils such as coconut oil, shea butter, castor oil, and vitamin A, C, and E–all of which are great for optimal skin health.
Try making your own homemade body butter or buy one from places such as Amazon or Target. Apply the butter liberally on a daily basis as soon as possible and continue to use it post-partum to heal your skin.
4. Apply coconut oil
Coconut oil can be used to treat many skin conditions. It’s rich in fatty acids, including lauric acid. These fats help reduce stretch marks by replenishing the skin and restoring collagen.
Stretchmarks typically will not be as severe (granted you don’t gain significant weight or have twins/triplets) if your skin is well-hydrated. According to some reports, coconut oil can prevent stretch marks. Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer and can penetrate deeper into the skin than any other oil.
5. Use shea butter daily
Shea butter moisturizes the skin and increases cell growth. Scarring is less likely with healthy, soft, supple skin. Shea butter helps to seal moisture in the skin barrier, thus minimizing skin damage from stretching. Don’t believe us? Check out this salt diver as he lathers on the shea butter, while attesting its protective benefits.
6. Apply castor oil
For centuries, castor oil has been used as a staple in African and Indian households. And it’s actually been used to induce labor since ancient Egypt. Castor oil is made up of 90 percent monounsaturated fats, such as ricinoleic acids.
This fat is good for the skin as it helps balance moisture and provides additional skin-conditioning benefits. The fats in castor oil help to prevent stretch marks from becoming more visible over time and can keep them from drying out. Try layering castor oil over a moisturizer for extra hydration.
Note that castor oil can be quite thick. To thin it, mix it with a carrier oil. You can use coconut, olive, or jojoba oil. You may also want to use a secondary oil that has a pleasant scent. Mixing castor oil and almond oil or shea butter can be a good option to keep your belly soft and moist as it grows.
7. Incorporate vitamin E oil
This natural antioxidant protects and repairs skin. Vitamin E, as an antioxidant, neutralizes the effects of free radicals on the skin and other collagen-damaging substances. It also helps to reduce stretch marks by hydrating and revitalizing the skin. You can buy products that contain vitamin E or buy it by the bottle of the capsule and simply add it to your moisturizing lotion or butter.
Post-Partum Strech Mark Treatment Options
Although it may seem difficult to prevent stretch marks, there are several treatments that can reduce their appearance.
Micro-needling has been proven to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The micro-needling procedure uses super-tiny needles to create tiny tears in the skin. This stimulates the production of collagen by causing light and minimal injury to the skin.
Microneedling can speed up the reduction of stretch marks by stimulating the rapid formation collagen. This will improve the appearance of your stretch marks and make them less noticeable. It is possible that multiple micro-needling treatments are required to achieve the desired results.
Topical medications that are made from vitamin A include retinoid cream. Retinoids may improve the appearance of your skin, particularly if you have stretch marks that are still very fresh. They help rebuild collagen in the skin, making the marks appear more natural.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about this treatment. Most doctors agree that topical retinoids shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and while nursing as their risk-benefit ratio is still questionable.
Laser therapy can also be used to reduce stretch marks. Lasers can stimulate collagen and elastin growth in your skin. Laser therapy comes in many forms, so your doctor will be able to help you select the one that’s right for you.
Other treatments for stretch marks include chemical peels and glycolic acid creams. These treatments can be expensive and not covered by insurance. These treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of existing stretch marks but do not prevent new ones from developing.