Can stretch marks be prevented? Tips and tricks on how you can treat your skin during pregnancy and after!
6 February 2017| Last updated on 1 October 2019
If you’re more interested in facts than poetic metaphors, people get stretch marks when they change size rapidly and the elastic fibres under the skin break. So the question really is - can you prevent them or do you just have to make peace with them?
Stretch marks aren’t harmful. If it’s any comfort, because of hormonal changes, up to 90% of women get ‘striae gravidarum’ some time after their 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. While stretch marks can show up on your belly and breasts, (the two areas that grow the most during pregnancy), you may also notice them on your thighs, buttocks and upper arms.
The speed with which you grow plays as much a part as the amount of weight you gain. Your skin’s type and elasticity makes a difference, and genetics are also a factor; if your mother or another close relative had stretch marks, then you're more likely to have them too. If you have fair skin, you could develop pinkish stretch marks that eventually fade to white or gray, while women with darker skin tend to get stretch marks that are lighter than their skin tone.
If you’re trying to prevent stretch marks, it's always a good idea to keep your skin well moisturised and to make sure you drink enough water. Some people say it helps to follow a healthy, balanced diet, to exercise, and to massage your skin daily, and who doesn't love massages!
We did an informal and highly unscientific poll, and our friends recommended gentle scrubbing, coconut oil, almond oil, Vitamin E and raw beeswax. They all have skin, and some of them have had babies, but …
SEE ALSO: What to Expect From Your Skin When You're Expecting
There’s some evidence that you can improve your skin’s elasticity, (reducing the likelihood that you’ll get stretch marks), by massaging yourself with creams or lotions that contain centella, almond oil, collagen and cocoa butter.
People in Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean have used cocoa butter for centuries. A superb emollient, it helps to prevent stretch marks by keeping your skin moisturised and improving elasticity. If you already have stretch marks, cocoa butter contains vitamins that help to repair skin damage. Non-allergenic, it’s safe to use on even sensitive and damaged skin.
Added bonus: Cocoa butter smells yummy, and it helps to relieve itching as your belly grows!