What are stretch marks and can they be avoided? Stretch marks, or striae gravidarum, are usually located in the lower half of the abdomen. They are caused by the separation of collagens in our skin and may look different colors on different skin tones. Some tones may show silvery lines, purplish lines, pinks, or just a lighter color than surrounding skin.
Some women may have noticed a difference in stretch marks from their first pregnancy compared to following pregnancies. D. Lowdermilk, author of Maternity & Women’s Healthcare, explains that as the second pregnancy comes around, the abdomen stretches showing glistening silvery/purplish lines from the first pregnancy (scars), and also the striae of the current pregnancy. This may be why the stretch marks look differently/more noticeable after the first pregnancy.
So if stretch marks occur from separating connective tissue (collagen) of our skin, is there really anything we can do to help prevent stretch marks from happening?
The American Pregnancy Association recommends three activities to help keep the skin healthy and protect against stretch marks. (They sound legitimate).
1. Eat foods that help form collagen.
3. Apply oils/butters
Certain vitamins and minerals promote the growth of collagen (which will help make tissue stronger and prevent weak collagen from breaking). Vitamins E and C, zinc, and silica are said to have collagen-boosting properties. Also, keeping well- hydrated will keep the skin healthy and allow it to regenerate.
Exercising promotes blood flow, which basically means more nutrients are traveling to all areas of the body (including the skin and connective tissues). This helps keep the skin nourished and elastic, and in the long run may increase stretching-power.
Rubbing oils and butters specifically made to improve elasticity of skin are recommended to help the skin stretch during pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association says to rub the product Bio-Oil on the abdomen twice daily during the first trimester and throughout the pregnancy. This will help skin’s hydration and stretch!
Like all great traits, striae gravidarum seems to be familial.