Stretch Marks in Pregnancy

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The most common cause of stretch marks is pregnancy and over 90% of women will experience stretch marks whilst pregnant. Throughout your pregnancy, your body undergoes a number of changes that can affect the integrity of the skin. You also rapidly gain weight during pregnancy and this also contributes to the formation of stretch marks.

Stretch marks are most likely to occur in the last few months of your pregnancy. During this time your body is producing hormones, which act upon your pelvis, making the ligaments more supple and flexible as is needed for birth. These hormones can also affect the integrity of the skin and as your body continues to grow as your baby grows within you, the skin can be over stretched, resulting in stretch marks.

The medical term for stretch marks that occur during pregnancy is Striae Gravidarum and they are most common on the abdomen. During the last few months of pregnancy, the abdomen rapidly expands as the baby grows and thus the skin is stretched more than usual. Many women refer them to as tiger stripes for they not only represent the struggle of pregnancy but also conform to band of stripes that match the pattern of a tiger. There are a number of other common places in which these stretch marks occur and these include the thighs, buttocks, arms and the breasts. The amount of weight that you put on during pregnancy also contributes to their formation.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop stretch marks forming during pregnancy, as they are a natural part of the process. Very few women experience pregnancy without them so you are not alone. A good way to ensure the minimal amount occur is to try and gain weight steadily. The “eating for two” idea is a complete myth and therefore although you should listen to your body’s cravings, try not to overeat to ensure that you gain weight at a steady pace. The faster you gain weight, the more likely you are to get stretch marks. Another idea is to moisturise the key areas of the skin that are prone to stretch marks and drink plenty of water to ensure that the skin is hydrated. Although neither of these suggestions will prevent the formation of stretch marks, they may reduce the amount that occur.

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