Stretch marks are an almost inevitable part of pregnancy, though some women do avoid them. Stretch marks are caused by the skin stretching to accommodate the enlarging uterus and increased weight. Some women probably have some genetic predisposition for stretch marks, and they’re also more common in younger women.
The marks typically appear as pinkish-red streaks along the abdomen and breasts, but they fade to silvery grey or white several months after the birth. Their exact colour depends on your skin tone — they appear browner on dark-skinned women, for example.
Although women use numerous concoctions rubbed into their bellies to avoid stretch marks — such as vitamin E oil, almond oil and various creams marketed for use during pregnancy — no cream or ointment is completely effective in preventing stretch marks. However, limited research has been done into the options available (particularly on over-the-counter preparations).
Trofolastin cream (containing centella asiatica extract, alpha tocopherol and collagen-elastin hydrolysates) is one product that shows promise in reducing stretch marks. Another product called Verum (containing vitamin E, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, elastin and methanol) may also be effective.
Other research indicates a cream containing trentinion 0.1 per cent helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks after they appear— although research doesn’t investigate the safety of these products. Your best bet is to avoid excessive weight gain, eat nutritious foods (particularly those high in zinc, to help maintain the health and elasticity of your skin) and to exercise regularly to maintain muscle tone, which eases the pressure of the uterus on the overlying skin.
While obtaining all your nutrients (including zinc) through a healthy diet is preferable, if you feel your diet is lacking, speak to your midwife or doctor about whether or not supplements are recommended.
This article is an excerpt from Pregnancy For Dummies 3rd Edition (Australian and New Zealand Edition)
Your complete guide to having a healthy, happy pregnancy. This updated and expanded third edition of Pregnancy For Dummies offers mothers-to-be practical advice and expert guidance on every stage of their pregnancy — and beyond!