How to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy
For 9 months, the female body is changing dramatically. Diet and sport will help to return to its former shape after childbirth, but you will most likely have to put up with stretch marks. But it’s better to try to warn them.
What are stretch marks?
During pregnancy, when, due to an increase in the mammary glands, the breast changes to a larger size and the volume of the abdomen grows, because the unborn child requires more space. The fibers of the dermis «sprawl» farther apart from each other, at some point they overstretch and may break.
In order to “patch” this place of a gap in the connective tissue mesh and to reliably stabilize the affected area of the skin, the dermis in a hurry produces connective tissue. So stretch marks, or striae appear.
The main causes of stretch marks
Stretch marks, or, in a scientific way, striae, appear as a result of internal microcracks of the skin. They are referred to as atrophic scars, which look like narrow sunken wavy lines. The hairs in these areas do not grow, the pigment does not form.
If you touch your hips or stomach with your palm, uneven paths are felt under the fingers. This is striae. They occur for various reasons, but during pregnancy are usually caused by:
- fast weight gain;
- a sharp increase in body volume (especially in the last month);
- hormonal bursts;
- genetic predisposition;
- weakness of the abdominal muscles.
How stretch marks appear
Scientists say stretch marks are a hereditary phenomenon. Look at your mom. If she has stretch marks, then most likely you can’t avoid this fate (unless, of course, you take the necessary actions on time). A frequent place for the manifestation of striae is the chest, abdomen and hips.
As a rule, the first hints of the appearance of striae (one of the indicators is itching of the skin in the abdomen, thighs and chest) occur in the second trimester of pregnancy, when the stomach and chest begin to rapidly increase in size.
Causes of stretch marks
Stretch marks, as we have already found out, appear as a result of internal microtrauma of the skin due to overextension. They arise for various reasons, but during pregnancy most often because of such reasons.
During pregnancy, women can gain weight from 3-6 to 30 kg. The norm is 1 kg per month of pregnancy. But even with minimal weight gain, the skin experiences stress. And since body volumes increase, the skin stretches, which can lead to the appearance of stretch marks.
More information on weight gain during pregnancy is here.
The baby’s waiting time is responsible in every sense. While the expectant mother is preparing for the appearance of the baby, serious changes occur in her body. All processes are aimed at creating the best conditions for the growth and development of the fetus. The metabolic processes are accelerated, the cell division rate increases. Often the body does not have time to adjust with rapidly changing changes.
As we said above, scientists believe that the hereditary factor is often to blame for the appearance of stretch marks.
Inadequate skin hydration
Alas, many women are frivolous with stretch marks. But in vain. In order to help the skin to be more elastic, effective and regular hydration and nutrition are necessary.
Abdominal muscle weakness
Pregnancy is not a disease. Do not forget about fitness and sports. However, before starting classes, consult your doctor.
Risk Factors During Pregnancy
Of course, not a single pregnant woman is safe from stretch marks. Yet there are factors that increase risks.
- Large fetus.
- Multiple pregnancy.
- Age of the future mother.
Ways to prevent stretch marks
Today it is no longer a secret that during pregnancy, women need not only to walk more and eat right, but also to take care of the body. Every month, the stomach grows, the skin stretches, itching appears in the places of stretching — all this requires certain actions.
Weight gain cannot be avoided during pregnancy. But it is important to ensure that he does not go beyond the norm. That is why a woman’s diet should be balanced. Include in the menu foods rich in vitamin E, protein, Omega-3, -6, -9 fatty acids, namely:
- green lettuce;
Replace foods high in animal fats with liver, low-fat fish, soy, and sprouted wheat grains.
You can read about how to eat properly during pregnancy here.
Cosmetics for prevention
From 2–3 months of pregnancy, prevent striae daily. To help you:
The composition should be essential oils, proteins, moisturizers and nutrients.
Cold and hot shower
In general, a contrast shower is a useful procedure in every sense. Changing the water temperature strengthens the skin cells, stimulates their work, gives the skin firmness and elasticity. A contrast shower combined with a light massage with a natural bristle brush will give excellent results. After a shower, apply a moisturizer or cosmetic oil to your skin. One “but”: during pregnancy, doctors do not recommend sudden changes in temperature. Therefore, your contrast shower is a gentle alternation of not icy and hot water, but cool and warm.
Pregnancy is not a disease, but an excellent condition during which small physical activities are welcome (check with your doctor about the absence of contraindications).
For most women, moderate physical activity during pregnancy is not contraindicated, but rather recommended. If you go to a fitness club, find out if there are groups for pregnant women.
- Usually, yoga is practiced in such classes — it strengthens the muscles and teaches you how to breathe properly, which is useful during childbirth.
- Doctors recommend aqua aerobics and swimming for pregnant women: during the work, all muscle groups work, in addition, it is easier to move in water.
- Do not forget about exercises to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, hips, arms and chest. To maintain shape, it is enough to engage 2-3 times a week.
- If there is no opportunity to go to the gym, go for a walk every day, and not slow, but quite peppy (if there are no contraindications).
Massage during pregnancy is different than usual:
- pressure movements are excluded;
- the stomach and chest are not massaged at all, only stroking is possible.
Make sure that the master knows the massage technique for pregnant women — then there is no reason to refuse.
Stretch Bandage During Pregnancy
The bandage in the form of a belt helps not only to maintain a rounded tummy, but also prevents the appearance of stretch marks. A prenatal bra with wide straps provides reliable support for an enlarged breast. Concerning the need for use and size range, it is better to consult your doctor.