Stretch marks! How can one little word make so many women cringe? Those unsightly little streaks (pink, reddish brown, purple or dark brown in color) that some women get on thier abdomen in the later stages of pregnancy (some also get them on thier thighs, hips, breasts and buttocks) are something most of us try to prevent. During pregnancy we are vulnerable to stretch marks, with about 50% of women getting them at some point. Our skin is growing and stretching at a faster pace than usual. While we don’t know for sure if we will get them, there are some factors that come into play. Genetics, if your mother or sister had stretch marks, research suggests that you may be predisposed to having them too. Rapid weight gain can also cause stretch marks. While we all gain weight during pregnancy, if your skin has to stretch or expand quickly over a short period of time you are more likely to get stretch marks as opposed to gaining weight at a more even pace throughout the nine months. Also, gaining more than the recommended 25-35 pounds can increase chances of getting stretch marks. Carrying multiples, carrying a large baby or having excess amniotic fluid are also factors that may contribute to stretch marks. Even if you do everything right, sometimes they just appear with no real explanation.
There are a million products on the market targeted to helping prevent stretch marks. However, there is no proof that they actually work. I for one used Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula With Vitamin E religously morning and night for both pregnancies and I did not get stretch marks. I swear that is what helped, but I also didn’t have rapid weight gain or gain more than reccommendations and my mom and sister didn’t get them either, so who knows why.
What if you were one of the 50% to get stretch marks, now what? At first they may appear extremely unsightly, think of them as battle wounds. I mean you did just carry a baby in your womb for nine plus months and birthed this amazing little human. Give yourself some credit. The good news is that they usually become less noticable around 6-12 months postpartum. Palmers came out with a new formula Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Spray Lotion for Stretch Marks that may help speed up the process of reducing the appearance of stretch marks. The spray is fast absorbing, non-greasy and helps soothe itchy skin while fighting stretch marks. The original Palmer’s lotion that I used is pretty greasy, this one is not at all!
If you still aren’t happy with results talk to your dermatologist about options. Some topical medications such as Retin-A or glycolic acid may help. Always let the doctor know if you are breastfeeding because that will put limitations on certain products. Laser treatments may also be an option. Don’t get frustrated. There are a lot of other women in your same situation. The stretch marks always look worse to you than others. After all, we are our own worse critics! For now, focus on the positive; you have this healthy, amazing little baby. And you would probably do it all again, stretch marks and all!