Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in a woman's life. Not only her lifestyle changes, there are significant changes in her body too. One of the major one among them are stretch marks. 90% of the women get stretch marks during their pregnancy. They typically appear in the third trimester on the belly and can also occur on the hips, buttocks and breast.
Before getting into the details of how to deal with them, let us first try and understand why it occurs. Simply put, stretch marks occur when a body grows faster than its skin can keep up with. During the third trimester, the stomach of a woman gets bigger to accommodate the baby and as a result the skin stretches excessively. Since, it stretches too much and too quickly, the elastic fiber under the skin begins to break up thereby resulting in stretch marks. The marks are often red or purple in the beginning but gradually they fade to white or gray.
Determining who will develop stretch marks during pregnancy is difficult. It is believed that there is a hereditary component at play as well. If you mom, sister, etc., got them during pregnancy, it is likely that you might get it too. Other than that large baby size, having twins and having excessive amniotic fluid also influences the occurrence of stretch marks. These factors are beyond our control. However, there are certain other factors that influence the occurrence of stretch marks where we can exercise control. How much weight is gained during a pregnancy and how quick it is gained also matters a lot. Gaining weight slowly over the period of nine months will give the skin the time to adjust rather than the massive weight gain that occurs in the final month.
Having the right diet during pregnancy is also important as it can reduce the severity of stretch marks. One should stress on having a diet rich in vitamin A, C and E, protein, zinc and silica since, these nutrients increases the skin's elasticity.Drinking plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated is also important. Also, one must reduce the intake of caffeine as it is known to reduce skin's elasticity.
There are many creams, lotions and oils in the market that claim to prevent stretch marks, but there is no proof if they really are so effective. Lanolin and cocoa butter are not known to specifically help in reducing stretch marks, but they are definitely good for your skin. So, there is no harm in applying them. Taking care to prevent the occurrence of stretch marks is a good idea. However, it may not prevent their occurrence all together. Of course, there are other ways of doing away with them after pregnancy, if you are not comfortable in your new skin.
If you are looking to improve your skin without going under the knife, then the best thing to do would be to take the topical application route. You can use exfoliating products like Retin-A and glycolic acid which actually works by removing the uppermost layer of skin and stimulates the formation of new skin, thereby reducing g the severity of the scars. However, if you want a more impressive result, you should consult your dermatologist about laser therapy or a tummy tuck surgical process. But, remember the more invasive the process is, the more costly it will be and it is likely that such processes will not be covered under insurance.
If you prefer the natural way and do not want to splurge too much to get the perfect skin back, you will have to just wait and see the stretch mark fade gradually over time.