Whether you call them battle scars, tiger stripes or love lines, stretch marks are the result of the magnificent work our bodies do when growing our babies.
But that’s not to say that preventing pregnancy stretch marks isn’t something most new mums-to-be think about once the excitement of the positive pregnancy test has sunk in. In fact, talking to our mummy friends, most of us are guilty of googling this pretty early on!
Of course, when we’re incubating a baby, our bodies go through some major changes, not least rapid weight gain and a changing body shape which are the main causes of stretch marks. They’re most often seen on the stomach, breasts, hips and buttocks and look like pinkish streaks that fade to white over time.
We spoke to dermatologist Dr. Lian Mack who explained that stretch marks happen when there’s a “disruption of collagen and elastin in the dermis.” Essentially this means the elastin fibres that allow our skin to stretch reach their maximum capacity and end up snapping, leaving a scar. This often happens when our stomachs stretch to accommodate our babies, leading to pregnancy stretch marks.
Are some people more likely to have stretch marks during pregnancy than others?
It’s often the case that if your mother or grandmother had stretch marks during pregnancy that you’ll also be susceptible, but it doesn’t always work that way. Dr. Mack says, “Individuals who gain weight very rapidly in the first trimester of pregnancy are at a higher risk for developing stretch marks than those who gain their weight steadily over the full three trimesters.” This is because a gradual weight gain puts less stress on the skin and allows it to stretch less abruptly.
Preventing pregnancy stretch marks
While we can all be proud of what our bodies achieve when growing a baby bump, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to support our skin to rise to the challenge, so what can be done to prevent pregnancy stretch marks from showing up?
On a practical level there are several things that can make stretch marks less probable. It helps to start early – your first trimester is the ideal time to start putting in place new routines to keep your skin supple during and after pregnancy. We’ve swapped tips between our mummy friends and have consulted Dr. Mack for her insight to bring you our tried and trusted steps to boosting your pregnancy skin health in the fight against stripes.
Drink more water
First up, increase your hydration. Typically during pregnancy you’ll want to drink more water anyway which is great because not only will that extra hydration help your baby, it’ll also make sure your skin doesn’t go thirsty. Hydrated skin equals supple skin.
“I kept a massive reusable water bottle at work during my pregnancy to remind me to drink more. I swear I spent more time in the bathroom than at my desk but my skin had never looked better!” – Jade, new mum
Moisturise your skin
Dr. Mack says the sooner you start a topical moisturising routine the better as your skin can be primed to withstand the stress of an expanding bump. She recommends moisturising twice a day from the very beginning of pregnancy, focusing on key areas like your belly, hips, back and breasts. Twin mum Ursula recommends looking for a fast-absorbing product,
“I’d definitely advise using a gel as they sink in more quickly, which is easier to manage when you’re moisturising a large area… in my case half my body! I also found with gels, a little goes a long way.” – Ursula, mum of twins
Use products with the right ingredients
Dr. Mack recommends looking for collagen-boosting products that contain hyaluronic acid as this boosts skin hydration. She also advises grapeseed oil as an ingredient because of its rich linoleic acid content that can aid the treatment of stretch marks during the initial inflammatory stage.
Look for Vitamin E
Vitamin E has long proven effective in the fight against scars and stretch marks and the great news is this super vitamin can be found in lots of natural ingredients, such as kahai and grapeseed oil, both of which are in the formula of our Easy Tiger Stretch Mark Fighter Gel. Kahai oil, also known as Cacay Nut Oil, has some fantastic anti-inflammatory properties too.
Post pregnancy skincare
Without a doubt you’ll have less time for yourself once your newborn comes along, but that’s no reason for you to relax your anti-stretch mark skincare routine. In fact it’s a key time to treat your skin to some post partum TLC as new scars are more easily treated. Dr. Mack suggests using a tailor-made product to prevent pregnancy stretch marks for at least six months post-partum.
I am mummy hear me roar
Just the act of making time to pamper yourself a little can go a long way to making you feel like you’re getting the balance right between you the mum and you the woman. Although motherhood changes everything, let’s not forget you’ll always be you.
At Mum & You our mantra is simple: a happy mum makes for a happy baby. Every mum deserves to feel happy in her skin. That’s why we developed a midwife approved anti-stretch mark product, our Easy Tiger Stretch Mark Fighter Gel. Made with grapeseed and kahai oil it helps reduce stretch marks and regenerate skin so it’s left looking and feeling smoothed and healthy. So no matter what pregnancy or motherhood throws at you, you can count on your skin to be ready for anything.
Dr. Lian Mack is a board certified dermatologist committed to excellence in comprehensive dermatological care. A fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a board member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, her expertise spans skin conditions in relation to skin colour as well as aesthetic enhancements.