Arrgghh - Stretch Marks
Where Those Marks Show Up
On a scale of one to ten, delivering your baby without having incurred stretch marks ranks 15. It's true, many young pregnant women, especially first-time moms, check almost daily for those small, indented streaks that generally occur on the abdomen in the last stages of pregnancy. It is during these last weeks that the baby is growing fast and the belly is expanding just as fast in order to accommodate the growth. Sometimes stretch marks show up on the buttocks, thighs, hips and even the breasts.
What Causes Them?
Stretch marks are caused by the change that happens in the supportive tissue just under the skin. This tissue is elastic and designed to stretch. When stretch marks begin, depending upon the natural color of your skin, they can be pink, reddish brown, purple, or dark brown. After the baby is born and your weight goes back to normal, the stretch marks fade, but they don't disappear.
Will I Get Them?
It's really hard to say whether you will have stretch marks during your pregnancy. It seems nobody knows exactly who will get them and who won't, nor why at least half of pregnant women get them and the other half doesn't. The research that has been done indicates that genetics play a significant part. So, if your mother or sister got stretch marks during pregnancy, chances are you will, too.
Once condition for stretch marks is dependent upon how fast and how much your skin has to stretch to accommodate your pregnancy. Alexa Boer Kimball, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard University says, "The skin is very elastic, but the weight gain that comes with pregnancy can be pretty dramatic, and sometimes it's more than the skin can handle." That is why the likelihood of stretch marks increases with a large weight gain. If you are carrying multiples, the risk is higher as well. Excess amniotic fluid or a big baby also contributes to stretch marks.
What Can I do About Them?
While you may not be able to totally prevent them, stretch marks may be reduced by ensuring you don't gain an excessive amount of weight. Keeping your belly, thighs, breasts and buttocks well moisturized can reduce the itching that often accompanies stretching skin, but there doesn't seem to be any serious proof that oils and creams sold as "stretch mark magic" actually work.
They don't go away, but the good news is that they do fade with time. If stretch marks are causing you grief, talk with your dermatologist about ways to minimize them. There are several treatments available these days, including Retin-A (which is not safe to use during pregnancy) and laser treatments.