Having a baby changes pretty much everything, doesn’t it? And that includes our bodies. One change that an overwhelming number of mums go through is the development of stretch marks. But what exactly are they, and how do we deal with them?
Stretch marks are scar-like marks, also called striae. They occur when there is a period of accelerated growth – this is why people going through pregnancy or puberty can be particularly prone to them. They can also happen when people are undergoing quick weight loss or gain or if someone is weight training and building muscle fast; in short, any time there are rapid changes in size for your skin to have to deal with. During pregnancy, the most common spot to appear is on growing abdomens and breasts. As baby grows and breast tissue prepares for milk production, the skin has to stretch to accommodate. This can cause the collagen and elastin that support our skin to rupture a little, which results in the marks appearing. They’ll often be raised and potentially itchy when they first appear and can be a range of different colours depending on your own skin tone – anything from red or purple to reddish or dark brown.
It’s important to remember that, in general, stretch marks are just a cosmetic concern for most people, and they don’t usually cause any major medical issues. They also won’t necessarily happen to everyone. There does appear to be a hereditary component, however, with there being a greater likelihood if others in your family have gotten stretch marks.
So – what can be done to help reduce their appearance? Depending on how bothered you are by them – and you may not be bothered at all, other than wanting to relieve any itching you may be experiencing – there are a few different options available. The most complex, expensive methods are ones you have to go to a dermatologist to have done. This can include procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or laser therapy. These are not the only options, and you can try out a whole lot of other ways before resorting to these.
First up is prevention. While most people won’t be able to completely stop stretch marks from happening, keeping your body – and therefore your skin – well hydrated can help to reduce the severity, so make sure not to forget your water! If it often slips your mind to grab yourself a drink, having a good flask nearby can help serve as a reminder. We have an excellent solution for that with our 750ml Stainless Steel Thermal Flask. Because it’s thermal, you can keep your drinks cold or warm for hours at a time while having it nearby to remind you to drink!
Eating a skin-healthy diet may also help. Getting enough protein is great, as is eating foods with a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or flaxseed. Keeping up a good range of colours on your plate is recommended anyway, but including a variety of proteins and different vitamins may help alleviate stretch marks. One 2015 study1 has even found a potential link between vitamin D levels and stretch marks, though further study is needed to confirm this. Still, a good diet and a bit of sunshine can help with everything, so these are ideal to incorporate where possible, regardless.
If you’ve found you’ve developed stretch marks anyway (and for up to 9 out of 10 women, this could be the case), certain oils have been associated with helping ease them as they appear. One of the key ones is rosehip oil, which can be found in our Belly Bliss Balm! This balm is a handy two-in-one – as well as helping with your stretch marks, it’s also designed to help soothe nausea with its essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, mandarin and frankincense. All of this is combined with a base of coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax, making it ultra moisturising to boot!
Our Bust Oil is designed to be used once you’ve finished breastfeeding, so it isn’t for use during or immediately after pregnancy, though it can be great for further down the line. It is made from a blend of twelve different oils to help rejuvenate your post-pregnancy skin, and while it’s called ‘Bust Oil’, don’t feel you need to restrict yourself to only using it on your bust. This blend is packed full of things like vitamin E and retinol to help with skin elasticity, and even includes marula oil to help hydrate your skin and treat stretch marks – exactly what we’re after today!
Time is last on the list. As briefly noted above, stretch marks can look very obvious when they first appear – raised, sometimes itchy, and a range of different colours. However, they will ease with time – though they’re unlikely to disappear entirely. Instead, they will gradually fade and, rather than being raised, will sink down.
Finally, it pays to note that stretch marks are completely normal, especially after our bodies go through pregnancy, and not everyone wants to get rid of them. Others do prefer to fade them as much as possible, and either choice is equally valid. Ultimately, it comes down to your own preferences, and how you choose to deal – or not deal – with this is entirely your decision.
1Zanella, R. K., Valente, D. S., Doncatto, L. F., Rossi, D., Lerias, A. G., & Padoin, A. V. (2015). Relationship between Vitamin D Status and Striae Distensae: A Case-Referent Study. Dermatology Research and Practice, 2015, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/640482
American Academy of Dermatology