When you think of all the astonishing changes a mum’s body goes through during and after pregnancy, it’s not surprising that there should be some lasting impact, and one of the commonest factors is stretch marks.
Between 75 and 90 per cent of women develop them, usually across the stomach, but also round the breasts, thighs and buttocks. They are caused by the rapid stretching of the skin that occurs during pregnancy, and take the form of little red or pink lines which seem to be under the actual surface of the skin. In fact, stretch marks can start to appear during the sixth month of pregnancy, and will last for several months afterwards. In some cases they never vanish completely, but for most women they do become less apparent over time. They are not painful, but the area can feel a little tender or even itchy after birth.
Traditionally, stretch marks were just a fact of any mum’s life, but there are plenty of treatments available now. To help prevent them forming in the first place, experts suggest massaging your baby bump with Vitamin E lotion or cocoa butter throughout pregnancy. Staying hydrated, having a healthy diet and taking recommended pre-natal vitamin supplements also help keep the skin supple.
Your likelihood of getting stretch marks is hereditary to some degree. If your own mum had them, you may too. The good news is that they do fade over time, and if you are really dedicated – and have the time! – muscle toning exercises can also help reduce their appearance.
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