Tips on preventing stretch marks for expectant mothers
Why do pregnant women get stretch marks?
Under normal circumstances, human skin has a certain level of elasticity because of its elastic fibers. Pregnancy will increase the secretion of glucocorticoids, which decompose elastin, making the elastic fibers more fragile.
In addition, with the gradual enlargement of the uterus during pregnancy, abdominal skin tension increases; when the tension exceeds a certain limit, the elastic fibers of the skin will break, and pink or purple irregular longitudinal and slightly sunken cracks will appear on the abdomen, commonly referred to as stretch marks. In severe cases, they can appear on the thighs, buttocks and breasts, mostly in the third trimester of pregnancy.
The following methods can help reduce the occurrence or ease the severity of stretch marks.
Massage frequently before pregnancy and stick to bathing in slightly cool water, which can increase skin elasticity.
Maintain a balanced diet. Eat more protein-rich foods, and avoid sweets, fried and salty foods, which will help improve skin texture and elasticity.
See your GP about maintaining your pre-pregnancy weight within an appropriate range (BMI18.5kg/m2-23.9kg/m2) through a reasonable diet and appropriate physical activity. Maintaining an appropriate amount of weight gain during pregnancy can slow down the speed of abdominal skin extension.
The weight gain range during pregnancy depends on pre-pregnancy BMIs. Pregnant women with an average pre-pregnancy BMI are advised not to gain more than 0.3 kg per month in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. For those classed as overweight (BMI 24.0kg/m2-27.9kg/m2) or obese (BMI≥28.0kg/m2), monthly weight gain should not exceed 1.2 to1.6 kg.
It is recommended to use oil-based skin care products, such as edible olive oil, and to gently massage to increase the extensibility of the abdominal skin. This is good for preventing moisture loss, and keeping the skin hydrated. It will be better to select skin care products under the guidance of a professional doctor. Vitamin E can also be used to increase skin elasticity.
In the middle and late stages of pregnancy, expectant mothers can use professional abdominal support belts according to the doctor's advice, to prevent skin stretching caused by abdominal sagging.