Pregnancy Stretch Marks

For most women, pregnancy is the #1 leading cause of stretch mark formation on their skin. Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable that nearly every woman will experience this phenomenon at some point in their lives, considering the inevitable changes that female bodies experience during pregnancy. But are there any proactive steps you can take to reduce or prevent the appearance of stretch marks?

Below are some facts about pregnancy stretch marks that every woman should know, as well as helpful tips for reducing the likelihood that you will end up with them at the end of your 9 month journey into motherhood.

How and Why Do Pregnancy Stretch Marks Form?

Stretch marks form on both men and women any time the body experiences a rapid weight gain. Bodybuilders experience it when gaining muscle too quickly, and for women, the most common occurrence comes in the form of pregnancy stretch marks.

The average female will gain anywhere from 20-30 pounds during a healthy, normal pregnancy. Gaining such a significant amount of weight in such a short amount of time, however, will put a major strain on the skin around your expanding belly, as well as other nearby areas which are likely to grow, such as your hips, thighs, and breasts. This rapid expansion and stretching of the skin can cause the collagen matrix of the dermis to break down and scar, which creates the pregnancy stretch marks most women begin to see near the end of their pregnancy.

But motherhood doesn't mean you have to say goodbye forever to your young, flawless skin. There are ways to keep your skin looking supple and smooth, and they're easier to achieve than you might think.

How to Prevent Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Sadly, there is no definitive, 100% foolproof way to completely prevent pregnancy stretch marks from forming. This becomes increasingly truer with each subsequent pregnancy, because the more children you have, the harsher of a toll each baby will take on your body. With each child, your body loses more of its ability to bounce back and recover from the havoc that pregnancy wreaks on the female body. This includes your skin's ability to resist the strain of a rapidly increasing belly, and being able to recover once your child is born and you change back into your normal shape.

The good news, however, is that there are proactive steps you can take in order to prevent pregnancy stretch marks from forming, or at least minimize their appearance. For starters, keep your skin well moisturized at all times. Any lotion with shea or coco butter will work nicely, especially if it comes loaded with vitamin E. You should also stay well-hydrated at all times. It's not just good for the baby, but an excellent way to prevent your skin from becoming too dry and developing pregnancy stretch marks.

Additionally, make sure your pregnancy weight gain happens at a slow, controlled pace. Contrary to what television sitcoms would have you believe, the food cravings most women experience during pregnancy aren't a free license to eat whatever you want. Eating too much of the wrong foods can not only be bad for the baby, but will also contribute to the formation of pregnancy stretch marks if you eat a lot of high-calorie, fried, unhealthy foods. Lastly, make sure to get plenty of exercise and good, quality sleep! Sleep is needed for the body to restore and repair itself, and exercise has a similar effect during your waking hours. Talk to your doctor to find out what sort of exercises you can do during all the different stages of your pregnancy; you'll be surprised by what you're capable of!

You can also invest in a high-quality pregnancy stretch marks cream or oil. It's not uncommon to see these products on the shelf at your local drug store, often with a beautiful maternal figure and her swollen belly emblazoned upon on the label. Unlike most moisturizers, these products contain additional extracts and botanicals specifically formulated to counteract the unique challenges that pregnant women face.

What is the Best Product for Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

Pregnancy is hard enough as it is; you shouldn't be scrambling all over the internet (or your local beauty supply stores) just to find the right formula for fighting off stretch marks. We've done most of the heavy lifting for you on our reviews page.

Click here to find our handy, easy-to-read comparison chart of all the best products for pregnancy stretch marks!