Did you know that between 75 to 90 percent of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy?
As you gain weight, the abdomen (stomach) stretches further and further, usually causing stretch marks to appear in the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy.
If you are really unlucky, stretch marks can appear on your breasts, buttocks and thighs as they get heavier and bigger.
Though stretch marks are common during pregnancy, anyone can develop them in any phase of life.
Some individuals are more susceptible to stretch marks than others.
If your parents or grandparents have stretch marks,
you are likely to develop them as well unfortunately.
However, even if you are at increased risk of stretch marks,
you can definitely prevent them from appearing.
Here are the 7 best ways to help your skin stay resilient against stretch marks.
1. Keep Your Body Well Hydrated
Drinking sufficient water helps to keep your skin soft and hydrated.
A soft skin does not develop stretch marks as much as a dry skin.
According to the US Institute of Medicine, women should take at least 72 ounces of water daily and men should drink at least 104 ounces of water.
Remember that your skin has to remain hydrated for optimal skin elasticity.
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases, not to mention, that you’re building a huge water sack for your baby to stay in.
Thus, you need to drink more water than you usually do.
Experts recommend that you take at least 12 glasses of water daily.
Most importantly, pay attention to how you are feeling.
Dry throat or lips is a good indication you are dehydrated.
A lack of concentration, headaches and feeling too tired can also be a sign that you are dehydrated.
Try to drink lots of water to maintain your hydration.
In addition to preventing the above symptoms, staying hydrated during pregnancy helps with other elements of pregnancy, such as easing constipation, reducing morning sickness as well as preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
Apart from drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water daily, include fruits like cucumbers and water melons in your daily diet.
Replace milky-sugary coffee and tea with green or herbal tea.
Remember the more fluids you take, the more detox your body will do, leaving the skin supple and well hydrated.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Stretch marks can also develop if you do not eat a nutrient rich diet.
Thus, it is important that you eat foods that will boost the health of your skin.
There are numerous benefits of watching what you eat during pregnancy:
- Not binging or overeating ensures that you do not gain too much weight too fast, thereby giving your skin time to adapt to rapid expansion, especially during pregnancy.
- By eating foods rich in Vitamin C in your diet, such as broccoli, gooseberry, guava and citrus fruits, you help your body secret more collagen and cartilage, all of which enhance the elasticity of the skin.
- By adding foods rich in Vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, you will be helping skin repair fast.
- By eating more omega 6 and omega 3 foods, such as eggs, walnuts and fish, you help your skin to glow.
- By eating foods rich in Vitamin E, such as nuts and green leafy vegetables, you are protecting the cell membranes in the skin.
- Maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D to help reduce risks of stretch marks. One of the easiest ways of getting Vitamin D is via exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is also present in foods such as cereals, bread and dairy products like yoghurt and milk.
- By adding foods rich in zinc in your diet, such as whole grains, chicken, eggs and nuts, you increase the body’s ability to create more collagen and reduce free radical damage due to its antioxidant nature. Zinc also helps to reduce inflammation and plays a crucial role in the wound healing process.
- Other important foods to include in your diet include fatty acids, such as Salmon, Mackerel, soy beans, cod liver oil, chia seeds and many more.
One of the best ways to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients is to choose unprocessed foods in various colors. For instance, taking a whole wheat toast, eggs and mixed berries for breakfast not only add colors to your plate, but also ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients.
3. Manage Your Weight Gain
Your appetite tends to increase at certain points in your pregnancy and it is normal to gain some weight.
Keep in mind that “Eating for Two” does not literally mean eating twice as much- so as much as possible, try keeping your weight gain to a healthy level.
However, it is important to note that during pregnancy, you need to take in extra calories, about 500 extra calories daily, to nourish your baby.
But ensure that these calories are from nutritious foods, not fatty ones.
This way you will put on weight more gradually and you will be able to shed pound easily after you have finished breastfeeding.
As a rough guide:
- It is normal to gain 2 to 4.5 lb. over the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
- From 12 to 28 weeks, it is normal to gain 10 to 14 oz. per week
- From 28 to 40 weeks, third trimester, it is normal to add 2 to 5 lb. per month
4. Use Moisturizers and Stretch Mark Creams
Throughout your pregnancy, be sure to massage topical oils and stretch mark prevention creams on to the areas that stretch marks often appear, such as thighs, bottom, hips, chest and stomach.
Use creams that contain Vitamin A and Vitamin E.
Creams containing Alpha Hydroxyl Acids (AHAS) are made using plant extracts and can also prove beneficial.
Beneficial oils include:
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids. The fatty acids are not easily oxidized, meaning they do not cause harmful free radical damage. Coconut oil helps to keep your skin hydrated. It is usually solid at room temperature, but once you warm it with your hands, it becomes a liquid that is easily absorbed by your skin. It is recommendable to apply coconut oil right after a shower to keep the moisture in.
- Lavender oil: Lavender essential oil is popularly known for its calming properties. It helps the body increase collagen production and form new connective tissues that encourage wound and stretch mark healing.
- Bitter Almond oil: Bitter almond oil helps to prevent stretch marks caused by pregnancy by enhancing the elasticity of the skin.
- Argan oil: Argan oil is commonly used in natural skin and hair care products. It is made from Argan tree kernels. Research shows that, Argan oil enhances skin elasticity, which may help prevent the occurrence of stretch marks.
- Bitter Orange oil: Bitter orange is extracted from peels of the bitter orange fruits. The oils help to tone and condition the skin as well as prevent the fragility of the skin. These actions help to reduce the occurrence and appearance of stretch marks.
However, you should avoid using bitter orange oil if you have a light skin as it tends to cause photosensitivity.
Similarly, bitter orange oil may cause irritation if used by people with a sensitive skin.
- Neroli oil: It has powerful antioxidant properties that help the skin cells regenerate as well enhance the skin’s appearance.
- Olive oil: Olive oil is a carrier oil used to dilute essential oils. Though it can also be used on its own, olive oil helps your skin to stay hydrated, thus preventing occurrence of stretch marks.
How to Use Essential Oils to Prevent Stretch Marks
To get the most out of your chosen oils, be sure to dilute them with carrier oils before massaging them into the skin.
This helps to prevent irritation and burning, which is vital for people with a sensitive skin.
Apart from olive oil, other carrier oils include coconut oil, rosehip oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and grape seed oil.
Mix about 15 to 20 drops of your essential oil with 1 ounce of carrier oil.
Start with fewer drops and then work your up as you skin gets used to the oil.
Be sure to carry out a patch test before applying the essential oil to the skin.
An essential oil is considered safe to use if it does not cause any reaction within 24 hours since its application.
Some may experience allergic reactions or skin irritations after using an essential oil.
Stop using the oil if it causes redness, rash or itching.
It is advisable that you discuss the use of essential oils with your doctor before trying them,
especially if you are using other topical treatments or taking other medications.
Overall, oils and creams help to hydrate wonderfully.
They also contain antioxidants that reduce skin damage.
Pick any of the oils that matches your preferences above and apply them on the high risk areas in the morning (after bath) and at night.
If your skin feels stretchy during the day, consider increasing the frequency of application.
Be sure to massage the skin while applying the oil.
In addition to using oils, use Shea butter and cocoa butter.
Apply generously over the high risk areas, especially the tummy as early as the start of the second trimester when your bump begins to show.
5. Take More Gelatin
Gelatin is another great way of preventing the occurrence of stretch marks.
The formation of collagen is vital in improving the elasticity of the skin.
To increase the creation of skin collagen, you should eat gelatin to get more collagen via your diet.
Improved skin elasticity helps to prevent the occurrence of stretch marks.
Apart from improving skin elasticity, gelatin also has many other benefits, including reducing joint pain, reducing gut inflammation, promoting digestive health, fighting free radical damage, improving insulin sensitivity, improving sleep and improving wound healing.
However, the only the shortcoming is that most of our diets today severely lack gelatin.
To get more Gelatin in your diet, make bone broth.
You can drink it plain every day or use it to make casseroles, sauces, soups and gravies.
You can also boil your rice in bone broth as it gives a great flavor.
Gelatin powder can also be added to drinks as it does not gel.
6. Improve Skin Elasticity with Supplements
If the skin losses its elasticity, it can no longer return to its normal size.
The elasticity of your skin decreases as you age.
Similarly, you are more likely to develop stretch marks if your skin is not elastic.
Research shows that improving skin elasticity is an inside.
You need to get all the vitamins and minerals the body.
However, it is difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamins from your daily diet, and that is why you need to use supplements.
Some of the primary supplements you to use to prevent the occurrence of stretch marks include:
- Vitamin D supplements: Vitamin D helps to regulate the growth of new skin cells. New skin cells create a protective barrier that holds in moisture and maintain skin flexibility.
- Vitamin E supplements: Vitamin E works as an antioxidant. When your skin is exposed to the sun, reactive molecules, known as free radicals are produced in the skin. Vitamin E works to neutralize these free radicals before the before damage skin cells. The recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day.
- Vitamin C supplements: Vitamin C helps in the production of elastin and collagen. Pollutants, exposure to sunlight and aging deplete the amount of Vitamin C in the skin. Research shows that women should get at least 75 milligrams of Vitamin C daily.
7. Say No to Chemicals
There are many brands that advertise their products having the ability to prevent stretch marks.
The fact is that most or all of the clams are false and you’re better not to be fooled by them.
In addition, it is highly advisable you avoid any type of body products, such as creams, soaps or shower gels that contain sulfate.
Sulfate is known to reduce the elasticity of the skin as well as cause dryness.
These are just some of the major ways you can prevent the occurrence of stretch marks.
In addition to these 7 ways, consider doing low impact exercises, such as simple aerobatics, yoga or walking to keep yourself active and improve blood circulation.
This helps to improve skin elasticity and prevent stretch marks.