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Wondering when to expect stretch marks during pregnancy? Learn all about when your body could develop stretch marks, how to prevent them, and what you can use to treat them.
I went through my ENTIRE pregnancy without a single mark on my body. That is until the 36th week came rollin’ around.
At week 36, I started getting all sorts of stretch marks around my abdomen and just under my butt. As if the body changes I was already experiencing weren’t enough. Needless to say, I got myself this stretch mark cream and had no idea what I was doing.
I wasn’t the only one. Most pregnant women have no idea whether or not they’ll end up with these lovely pregnancy stripes or not. Full Transparency: Even if you get stretch marks, they don’t define YOU at all.
When to expect stretch marks during pregnancy
You might be wondering, “when do you get stretch marks during pregnancy?“.
Stretch marks typically appear later in a woman’s pregnancy. This happens due to weight gain and stretched-out skin making room for your little bundle of joy in the womb.
It’s not uncommon for some women to even experience stretch marks as early as the 2nd trimester. Meanwhile, others won’t experience them at all.
But, What ARE Stretch Marks?
To put it simply, the appearance of stretch marks (medically termed: striae gravidarum) is formed when your skin stretches out farther (extreme skin stretching) than its normal ability. Typically due to extra weight gain or hormonal changes.
It’s thought that cortisol levels can weaken elastic fiber in the skin, making your skin’s elasticity much more prone to developing stretch marks
They usually appear as long or narrow lines/stripes in areas around the affected area such as the stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, or buttocks. Oh and guess what? It’s most definitely normal to get them.
In addition, family genetics have been shown to play a large part in why some people develop stretch marks.
What do the first signs of stretch marks look like?
If you’re wondering what the first signs of stretch marks look like, fear no more!
Typically, your skin may appear a bit more thinned out and sometimes you’ll notice a pink discoloration.
Eventually, the surface of the skin will darken and develop more of a wrinkled texture. From there, you’ll begin to see what you commonly know as ‘stretch marks’.
Over time, they will begin to fade and lose their color. Sometimes, they’ll just completely go away!
How to prepare your skin for pregnancy?
Believe it or not, stretch marks are just ONE of the many side effects your skin might be dealing with throughout pregnancy! However, is it one you can prepare for?
The short answer is yes, of course! Despite your growing belly causing some unpreferred changes, it’s a good idea to prepare your skin by taking care of it in the first place.
Taking care of your overall health & skin looks like this:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Drinking enough fluids and stay hydrated daily.
- Using a good quality moisturizer (I personally love Palmer’s moisturizer as someone who usually has very dry skin) to help improve your skin’s elasticity.
- Try using a full-body exfoliator (I got this cheap one off amazon and it works so good!) weekly to help remove any dead skin cells building up.
- Taking a quality prenatal vitamin to ensure you’re getting all your micronutrients.
Why do some women get NO stretch marks during pregnancy while others get them all over?
With new studies popping up, it’s pretty apparent that our genetics plays a much larger role in people who develop stretch marks.
You can read more about this information here if you’d like.
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that each person and each pregnancy is always going to be different.
This means each individual will have different side effects throughout their pregnancy, including stretch marks and physical appearance
Can you Feel Stretch Marks Forming?
It is not common to feel stretch marks as they form. Most women don’t even realize they have affected areas with stretch marks until they see them in the mirror.
However, if you rub your fingers along those wrinkly little lines, you will definitely be able to feel a specific outline of the mark itself.
Pregnancy Stretch Mark Remedies & Treatment Options
If you’re a pregnant woman who has developed stretch marks and is looking for stretch mark treatments, you’re in the right place to learn more about them below.
How to remove pregnancy stretch marks
The formation of stretch marks may be inevitable for some, but here’s what you need to know about them.
The downside is that there really aren’t enough ways that have been truly proven to take your stretch marks away despite there being a large market of products advertised to ‘take your stretch marks away’.
Some of the more proven ways (which tend to be on the more expensive side) include microdermabrasion, laser treatment, and a more affordable option of using Tretinoin Cream(s).
One thing to know about tretinoin cream is that it is considered a topical retinoid that is NEVER recommended for use by pregnant or nursing moms.
Does lotion help with stretch marks?
As mentioned above, using a quality moisturizer for your skin can help to hydrate your skin, in turn, improving your skin’s elasticity!
Unfortunately, there is limited evidence and minimal studies to show whether or not lotion can prevent stretch marks as a whole.
From my own personal experience, I used the Palmers Moisturizer and Oil Kit throughout my entire pregnancy. I had developed really dry skin and I never saw a single stretch mark show up until week 36.
Not to mention, the cocoa butter smell was very calming.
That being said, I have no idea if my skin survived that long due to the excessive moisturizing it was getting or because it’s purely genetics, but I can say the good news is that the lotion DID HELP with the dryness significantly!
Are there supplements to prevent stretch marks?
Similar to the creams, there isn’t one supplement out there that will just get rid of or prevent stretch marks.
Some believe that taking vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C can help promote the reconstruction of collagen, in turn, helping your skin repair itself.
However, others will argue that you should be getting enough of these vitamins just by consuming a well-balanced healthy diet.
What are the best creams for stretch marks after pregnancy?
If you opt to try using a cream to help lighten or get rid of your stretch marks AFTER pregnancy, you could try one of the creams listed below as they’re much more affordable than laser therapies and whatnot.
Now, I’m sure some women may have some positive results by using these products, so here are some of the most highly rated & reviewed creams:
As I mentioned, I personally used the Palmers Moisturizer and Oil Kit during my pregnancy and throughout the first few months postpartum. Although I can’t say I noticed any major differences in my stretch marks, it did keep my skin beyond soft and hydrated!
Does vitamin c for stretch marks help during pregnancy?
Vitamin C contains antioxidants that help your body with the development of collagen.
More collagen means stronger, more elastic skin which can help with preventing stretch marks or at least minimizing them.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, most studies show that “many remedies said to prevent stretch marks don’t actually work.“
Does Laser Therapy Help Stretch Marks Go Away?
When it comes to using laser therapy as a remedy for stretch marks, you should know that it can’t actually remove it completely.
There are also two forms of laser therapy available for this type of treatment:
- Ablative Laser Therapy: where it breaks down the top layer of the skin (in turn minimizing the appearance of your stretch marks)
- Non-Ablative Laser Therapy: where it promotes collagen growth by targeting your skin beneath the surface.
If your stripes of pregnancy are a piece of you, you simply can’t adjust to — laser therapy could be a great option to minimize them.
There you have it mamas, all the information you need to know about when to expect stretch marks during pregnancy! No matter how many different products & stretch mark creams you use, you may or may not be able to avoid the formation of stretch marks.
Just remember, whether you get them in the third trimester, second trimester, or not at all — your body is still beautiful and worthy of just as much love as ever before,
This article was updated in June 2022.
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