They tend to occur after pregnancy, but can also pop up if you recently gained or lost a lot of weight.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to prevent and even reduce your stretch marks using natural therapies, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Read on to learn more.
What Causes Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Hormones play a main role in determining whether you get stretch marks during pregnancy. The adrenal glands produce cortisol hormone.
As cortisol levels naturally increase, the elastic fibers in the skin weaken. As your skin stretches, it results in pregnancy stretch marks. This usually begins during the second trimester when there is a rapid growth of the fetus.
When you hit the third trimester and are about to deliver your baby, that is when they’re usually most common and obvious.
TCM Physician Tiang Sack Sing explains that stretch marks are caused by pregnancy endocrine changes when the skin experiences stretching and internal tearing.
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 young at the start of pregnancy
- Are carrying a higher weight at the start of pregnancy
- Are pregnant with a larger baby or more than one baby
- Have a family history of women with stretch marks
Do creams and oils for stretch marks work?
Entrepreneur and mom-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 that were noticeable during her three pregnancies. “I couldn’t prevent them,“ she tells us. “I used specialized 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.”
Can Stretch Marks Be Minimized?
TCM has a few tips to reduce their appearance:
Start from the inside out
Use edible 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. It can be used for all depletion or deficiency conditions.
Studies have found that bird’s nest is rich in polypeptide hormone-epidermal growth factor (EGF), which can promote cell regeneration, enhance skin texture and firmness, rapidly repair damaged skin, promote skin delicacy, and slow aging.
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 of skin.
Can You Prevent Stretch Marks?
According to Physician Tiang, the following contribute to the formation of stretch marks:
- Reduced physical activity during pregnancy
- Excessive weight gain over a short period of time
- Carrying a fetus larger than the gestational age
Therefore, proper exercise is necessary during pregnancy to keep your weight in a healthy range.
“Keeping weight gain within 26 pounds (12 kg) during the whole pregnancy has a positive effect on prevention,” she advises.
In terms of your diet, besides focusing on balanced nutrition and protein intake, eating more foods that are rich
While pregnancy stretch marks aren’t a critical condition, they certainly can affect body confidence. Try these tips if you’re looking to minimize their appearance, or you can learn to embrace them and be proud of what your body has achieved through pregnancy and childbirth.
- NHS UK, 2019, Stretch marks in pregnancy.
- Biomed Central, 2018, Prevention of striae gravidarum: study protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial.
- BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 2016, The use of anti stretch marks’ products by women in pregnancy: a descriptive, cross-sectional survey.
Share this article on
Was This Article Useful to You?
Want more healthy tips?
Get All Things Health in your mailbox today!