Can You Minimise Pregnancy Stretch Marks? These Women Tell Their Stories
Published | 5 min read
Stretch marks occur during pregnancy or drastic weight changes when the skin is stretched in a short period of time. Learn whether stretch mark reducing products work and how they can be minimised through TCM methods.
“Almost all my friends got them during pregnancy. We just embrace them and label them as our ‘battle scars’,” says Sharon, who is a restauranteur and mum of three.
The appearance of stretch marks can affect self-confidence, especially if they’re obvious. “In the beginning, I was conscious about wearing low-cut bikini bottoms because the stretch marks were dark red and purple and obvious,” she reveals. “But they faded over time, and I got used to them so now I’m not bothered.”
Can pregnancy stretch marks be prevented and reduced? And do stretch mark creams work? We find out here.
What Causes Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
Hormones play a main role in determining whether you get stretch marks during pregnancy. This usually begins during the second trimester when there is rapid growth of the foetus. When you hit the third trimester and are about to deliver your baby, that is when they’re usually most common and obvious.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Tiang Sack Sing explains that stretch marks are caused by
“The skin continues to stretch with the increase of foetal growth and weight. When the skin is overstretched to the point of exceeding the normal limit, the dermal connective tissue, elastic and collagen fibres will be damaged, resulting in stretch marks that look like streaks,” she says.
These usually appear on the abdomen, chest, buttocks and thighs. States Physician Tiang, “The larger the baby, the more obvious or serious stretch marks are, and the more difficult it is to fade.”
You’re more prone to them during pregnancy if you are any of the following:
- Young at the start of pregnancy
- Have a higher weight at the start of pregnancy
- Are carrying a larger baby or more than one baby
- Have a family history of women with stretch marks
Do Creams and Oils Work?
Entrepreneur and mum-of-two Elaine says that stretch mark creams didn’t work on her. “I used oils and creams after every shower, but it didn’t seem to work. Or perhaps they did because my stretch marks could have been worse,” she reveals.
Many of her friends underwent laser treatments in an attempt to reduce stretch marks in addition to using creams. “The treatments lightened them, but the lines don’t totally disappear,” she says.
Sharon had stretch marks which were noticeable during her three pregnancies. “I couldn’t prevent them,“ she tells us. “I used specialised body oils, shea butter and stretch mark creams but they didn’t work. All my kids had massive growth spurts in the last two weeks of pregnancy.”
So, Can Stretch Marks Be Minimised?
TCM has a few tips to reduce their appearance:
Start with a good foundation
It’s essential to start from the inside out. “Firstly, having a healthy body is crucial. Good circulation is the foundation of healthy skin and muscles. Postpartum confinement is especially crucial for women, as maintaining sufficient qi (vital energy) and blood helps their bodies recover and repair. Therefore, protein and collagen intake during confinement are important nutritional elements of skin and body repair,” advises Physician Tiang.
Take Bird’s Nest to Repair Skin
Bird’s nest contains plenty of important nutrients. TCM believes that bird’s nest tonifies Lungs, nourishes yin and moistens the body, hence it can be used for all depletion or deficiency conditions. “It has a great moisturising and nourishing effect on the body, especially those with a Dry-Heat constitution before childbirth and a weak constitution after childbirth,” explains Physician Tiang.
“Studies have found that bird’s nest is rich in polypeptide hormone-epidermal growth factor (
Bird’s nest’s moisturising effect and epidermal growth factor have great effects on cell and skin repair. It can be consumed in a moderate amount before and after childbirth as it helps to improve skin firmness and elasticity, which helps in preventing and improving the appearance
Can Stretch Marks Be Prevented?
According to Physician Tiang, reduced physical activity during pregnancy, excessive
“Keeping weight gain within 12
In terms of your diet, besides focusing on balanced nutrition and protein intake, eating more foods that are rich in collagen is also important. “Collagen-rich foods can improve the elasticity and firmness of the skin,” she suggests. “Gentle massages with oil or massage cream before and after childbirth can also relieve the tension of regional skin and muscles. This is helpful for preventing and eliminating
While pregnancy stretch marks aren’t a critical condition, it certainly can affect body confidence. Try these tips if you’re looking to minimise their appearance,
- NHS UK, 2019, Stretch marks in pregnancy [online], [Accessed 17 August 2022]
- Biomed Central, 2018, Prevention of striae gravidarum: study protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial [online], [Accessed 17 August 2022]
- BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 2016, The use of anti stretch marks’ products by women in pregnancy: a descriptive, cross-sectional survey, [online], [Accessed 17 August 2022]
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