During pregnancy, a lot happens to your body. To make room for the baby, a natural process is set in motion, stimulated by hormones. For example, the extra production of estrogen makes your skin more supple and allows it to stretch. Sometimes your skin can’t keep up with the growth of your belly, which can bring about stretch marks. Almost every woman has them, so these stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of! How do these stretch marks form and how can you keep your skin nourished? We explain it all here and give you some tips.
How do stretch marks develop?
Stretch marks appear when your body grows faster than your skin can cope with. For example during pregnancy, a growth spurt in your youth or when gaining a lot of weight in a short period of time. The growth causes small tears in your connective tissue and these are visible from the outside; on the abdomen, but also on the breast, legs and in some cases the arms. These marks can be purple or red, but after some time, they will regain the colour of your skin.
Can you prevent stretch marks?
Whether you get stretch marks is mainly a question of genetics. In that sense, you actually barely have any influence on preventing stretch marks. It’s always good to keep your skin supple and nourished, but that won’t prevent stretch marks 100%. So oils and bellybalms are not a magical potion that prevent stretchmarks, but they can decrease the chance that you get them. But anyhow, it’s important to remember that stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of. Most women have them! At Naïf, we call them our tiger stripes. Sounds way more fun than stretch marks, right? And honestly, you can be proud of your stretch marks. Growing a mini human is quite a task! Having said that, it’s always good to care for your belly so that it stays supple and doesn’t feel too “tight”.
Here’s how you can do it:
Do a daily abdominal massage. It may only take 5 minutes, but this action will stimulate your connective tissue and nourish your skin if you use a rich oil to do this. Extra fun: it's also a good way to connect with your baby.
Lubricate, lubricate, lubricate. Stretched out, stressed skin can become itchy or dry. It's a natural process, but one we can support ourselves by applying lotion from the start. A great product for this is a Belly Balm: a body oil especially made to use during your pregnancy. Oh, and let's not take hot showers, eh? Speaking of which.
Take alternating showers. This will stimulate your blood circulation and also strengthen your connective tissue.
Wear supportive clothing. Yes, just like your breasts, your belly needs a little support. This will reduce the extra stretch. Now you will not score the most beautiful outfits in the preggo category, but at least go for a good basic top or shirt. Wear your cool hoodie or cardigan over it.
Easy on the candy! It makes sense that your eating pattern will change during your pregnancy. But... if you want to prevent stretch marks you will have to keep yourself in control a little bit. Still want to snack? Go for protein- and fibre-rich snacks, they will make you feel full faster. Like peanut butter, crackers, apples, yoghurt with nuts and fruit, smoothies etc.
Final result. You can do anything, but you can't really prevent them 100%. Stretch marks can also be hereditary. The tips above are there to support the natural process and to soften the situation, both literally and figuratively. And um, own those tiger stripes, mama!