Concerned about stretch marks? Here are some natural ways to prevent and minimize them.
July 08, 2013
But stretch marks can sometimes be prevented or minimized with some simple, natural measures.
How do stretch marks start and progress? It’s no surprise that stretch marks in pregnancy are a result of the rapid stretching of the skin on your belly, breasts, and related areas. They often start as red, pink, purple, brown, reddish brown, or dark brown, depending on your skin tone. Later they often turn to a white or silver color, sometimes with deep indentations. There is some evidence that the likelihood of having them is hereditary. So if your mom had them, you may be more likely to have them, too. Factors such as being a younger age at pregnancy, having a bigger baby or larger weight gain, and higher body mass index are associated with higher risk of having stretch marks.
Once stretch marks have reached the silver or white color, often with deep indentations, it’s harder to treat them. But at earlier stages, and before they’ve appeared at all, there are some simple and natural steps you can take to prevent or minimize them.
Start early. As we noted, treating skin before stretch marks appear, or while they’re in the early stages, will increase the chances of minimizing them. The greatest risk for stretch marks is in the third trimester when your belly is stretching the most, so start with these recommendations early in your pregnancy.
Moisturize. Keeping skin moisturized makes it more elastic and more able to stretch without damage. Moisturize several times a day with a product rich in oils your skin can absorb. Water based products will sit on top of your skin, but oil based products like our Pregnant Belly Salve and Pregnant Belly Oil will hydrate your skin and keep it pliable.
Hydrate. Keeping yourself well hydrated on the inside is not only good for your baby, it may help your skin stay less dry and more elastic. Choose filtered water over juices, which spike your blood sugar and are missing the fiber of whole fruit. And avoid caffeinated beverages because they contribute to dehydration.
Eat for healthy skin. Consider these tips for a diet rich in skin-supporting vitamins and fats, including Vitamin A, C, E, and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as collagen. Note that supplementation with Vitamin A can cause birth defects, so aim to get your vitamins from whole foods and a prenatal vitamin.
Exercise for healthy weight gain. Above we mentioned that higher weight gain and having a higher birth weight baby are associated with stretch marks. Not all of our pregnancy weight gain is within our control, but an exercise program approved by your health care provider may help you keep your weight gain in a healthy range, decreasing the risk of stretch marks. If you have gestational diabetes, and so are at risk of having a higher birth weight baby, working with your providers to control your blood sugar is an effective way to control your baby’s birth weight and prevent stretch marks, too.
Control itching with soothing herbs. Stretch marks are often itchy, and scratching them can cause further damage to your skin. So choose a moisturizer which contains herbs which soothe irritated skin. Our and Pregnant Belly Salve and Pregnant Belly Oil contain herbs such as chamomile and calendula which naturally soothe itchy skin.
Stick to safe ingredients. As with all body care products you use during pregnancy, be sure that the ingredients in the moisturizer you use are free of harmful chemicals. Our Pregnant Belly Oil and Pregnant Belly Salve both have “zero” ratings (the safest) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.
There are laser treatments for stretch marks which you can investigate, and other topical treatments using chemical ingredients. But for natural prevention and minimizing of stretch marks, we recommend these simple steps.