For many women, pregnancy stretch marks are a natural part of having children. Some doctors, like Marjorie Greenfield, M.D., the associate professor of Case School of Medicine’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, believe there is little you can do to prevent stretch marks, while others feel you can take some simple steps to help avoid them. While studies as of 2010 haven’t proven any method as 100 percent successful, many moms believe it’s worth trying to avoid stretch marks.
Moisturize skin to help prevent pregnancy stretch marks. According to Jill Hecthman, M.D., a Florida-based doctor, keeping your skin supple may help prevent stretch marks. She personally recommends Huile Tonic, a body treatment oil by Clarins designed to help keep skin elastic. Rubbing products like cocoa butter or massage oil onto areas where stretch marks tend to occur allows your skin to soak up the moisture, which in turns help your skin stay supple. It’s also a good way to relax, and some moms-to-be find it helpful in reducing itching.
Avoid excess weight gain during pregnancy. Many doctors, including Greenfield, recommend watching your weight gain as a way to reduce the possibility of developing stretch marks; however, weight gain is an essential part of helping your baby develop. The exact amount of weight you need to gain varies, depending on your situation. The Mayo Clinic recommends underweight women gain between 28 to 40 lbs. while overweight women gain 11 to 25 pounds depending, on where they fall on the body mass index (BMI) scale. If weight is a concern, talk to your health care provider to ensure you do what you can to avoid stretch marks while ensuring you get the calories both you and the baby need.
Drink water instead of caffeinated beverages. According to CNN, a pregnant woman needs additional fluid to stay hydrated. In its report, CNN quoted the Institute of Medicine as stating pregnant woman should drink 2.3 liters of water a day. That’s about 10 cups of water. Staying hydrated can help your skin maintain its elasticity, allowing it to stretch without tearing.
Increase circulation to areas prone to stretch marks. An article by Hans Lautenschlager, Ph.D., published on the Dermaviduals website includes pregnancy as an example of a situation in which the body’s ability for micro circulation reduces in certain areas of the skin. This reduction can negatively affect the elasticity of skin, making it easier for stretch marks to occur. The Birthing Naturally website reports that massage acts like a pump to keep the blood flowing through the body. To use massage as a way to avoid stretch marks, focus on areas like your breasts, abdomen, hips and tush where stretch marks tend to occur.
Nourish your baby and your skin. The American Pregnancy Organization reports that foods or supplements designed to boost collagen and elastin may help keep your skin tight, which can help eliminate tears like stretch marks. According to its website, foods rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Vitamin E can help, as can zinc and silica. If your diet lacks these, you can look for a prenatal supplement with them in it.
- pregnant image by Cora Reed from Fotolia.com