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Stretch Marks in Pregnancy and Postpartum


Updated June 24, 2014

Young pregnant woman applying moisturizer on her belly.
Kristian sekulic/E+/Getty Images

What are stretch marks?:

Stretch marks are the separation of collagen of the skin. While not painful, the stretching of the skin may cause a tingling or itchy sensation. Stretch marks occur in about 50-90% of pregnant women. Typically they show up in the lower abdomen during pregnancy, but you may also find them on your thighs, arms, breasts and buttocks. Stretch marks are more commonly found at the end of pregnancy.

Causes of Stretch Marks in Pregnancy:

There are many reasons that you may be more or less likely to have stretch marks. Here are the biggest factors in whether or not you will get stretch marks:

  • Family history of stretch marks.

  • If you had them in a previous pregnancy you may get them again, although usually just a darkened (temporarily) of the old stretch marks and a light extension sometimes.

  • Weight Gain - Rapid or excessive weight gain will make stretch marks worse.

  • Multiple Pregnancy - the more babies, the more likely they are.

  • Well hydrated and healthy skin stretches more.

  • Ethnicity (African American women have fewer.)

Prevention of Stretch Marks:

You do have some influence over stretch marks, but not always enough to completely prevent them. There are plenty of people who will tell you that you can prevent stretch marks by buying their products, don't believe it. Here are things you can do to prevent stretch marks:

  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Moisturize your belly.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Avoid excessive or rapid weight gain.

Pregnancy causes many changes in the skin.

Postpartum Stretch Marks:

Shortly after birth these stretch marks will begin to fade. The lines will turn a silvery, but not very noticeable color. In future pregnancies they may become temporarily darker. You may not get any new stretch marks, depending on weight gain and how you carry. Sometimes you will notice a slight lengthening of a stretch mark in a subsequent pregnancy.

Related Video
How to Stretch Your Lower Body
Learn How to Properly Stretch your Torso
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