If you’ve noticed the appearance of pregnancy stretch marks, you’re certainly not alone.
We live in a world where flawless pregnant bellies line our social media feeds.
Every blemish vanishes away with a quick click of a filter.
The reality is, well, a little more textured.
If you’ve noticed narrow track marks appearing on your belly, you’re in good company.
Yep, pregnancy stretch marks happen.
The good news is, they’re not dangerous to you or your baby.
In fact, they’re a sign that something pretty awesome is brewing inside you.
That being said, they may be making you feel uncomfortable, either because of their appearance, or because they cause an itchy or burning sensation.
So why does your body choose this particular design feature?
In this article: 📝
- What causes pregnancy stretch marks?
- What month of pregnancy do you start getting stretch marks?
- Can you actually prevent stretch marks in pregnancy?
- How do you get rid of stretch marks while pregnant?
- What’s the best cream to use on pregnancy stretch marks?
What causes pregnancy stretch marks?
Stretch marks (AKA striae gravidarum) can happen at various different times of life.
You may have experienced them when going through puberty, for example.
And they’re particularly common during pregnancy.
In this study, 60% of pregnant women got them.
This study puts the occurrence of stretch marks in pregnancy at anywhere between 50% and 90%.
They often appear on the belly, but can also pop up on thighs and breasts.
Why stretchmarks happen is the cause of some debate.
The fact that your skin is actually stretching is a factor.
In some cases, your body expands faster than your skin is able to, causing tiny skin tears.
It’s the scar from these tears that we see as a stretch mark.
But there are other reasons.
Pregnancy hormones may affect your connective tissue, making it more susceptible to tearing when your skin stretches.
And there is also likely a genetic component at work.
All in all, if they happen to you, be kind to yourself. There’s a lot going on in your body right now.
What month of pregnancy do you start getting stretch marks?
So when do stretch marks appear in pregnancy?
They tend to occur at about the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, somewhere towards the end of the second trimester or at the beginning of the third.
But they can come earlier than that.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, they appear in three phases:
- Early stretch marks that are typically pinkish, itchy, and thin.
- Larger stretch marks that are reddish or purple.
- “Mature” stretch marks that slowly start to lose their color.
What week do stretch marks usually appear in pregnancy?
Typically, pregnancy stretch marks can make an appearance anywhere from 28 weeks to 35 weeks pregnant.
But for some, they can appear earlier ‒ even as early as 20 weeks pregnant.
Can you actually prevent stretch marks in pregnancy?
There are mixed reports on how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy — and whether it’s even possible.
Some believe that you can stave them off by avoiding rapid weight gain in pregnancy.
The reality is, even if you gain weight slowly, stretch marks may still appear.
And while some creams are advertised as being able to stop stretch marks in their tracks, conclusive research is lacking on this.
There’s only so much control we have over these things.
So what happens after your baby is born? How long will these marks be with you?
Let’s take a look.
How long do pregnancy stretch marks take to fade?
If you’re not loving the new look, there’s hope.
Pregnancy stretch marks tend to fade quite substantially within six to twelve months of your baby’s birth.
(This is when the marks become “mature.”)
While they may still be noticeable close-up, their color should fade substantially.
So is there anything you can do to change their appearance?
How do you get rid of stretch marks while pregnant?
The American Academy of Dermatology Association tells us that while stretch marks are permanent, treatments may help to minimize their appearance.
But they also emphasize that no one treatment will work for everyone, every time.
Important — if you are still pregnant or breastfeeding, check in with your doctor before trying any treatments, as some products may contain ingredients that can harm your baby.
Here are some of the more common treatments:
- Over-the-counter creams, lotions, and gels. There’s conflicting evidence on how well these may work post-pregnancy. If you do want to try a topical option, it’s a good idea to start soon as they tend to be less effective on more mature stretch marks. Also, take your time to massage the product into your skin consistently for a period of a few weeks. This may take some time to work.
- Prescription creams. There’s some evidence to suggest that medicines containing hyaluronic acid and tretinoin may help. Talk to your doctor to see if this is appropriate for you.
- Dermatological procedures. Chemical peels, laser therapy, and microdermabrasion may all help to lessen the appearance of stretch marks — but none of these can make them disappear completely.
And before you rush to a tanning salon, be warned that tanning can have the opposite effect.
Because the stretch marks themselves don’t tan, in some cases, they can become more noticeable.
What’s the best cream to use on pregnancy stretch marks?
We’re all different, with different bodies and different pregnancy journeys, but there is a clear favorite from our Peanut moms-to-be: the Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter.
Some moms who used it throughout pregnancy didn’t get any stretch marks ‒ now that’s a pretty amazing cream!
In the end, stretch marks, to us, are one of the many ways we can earn our stripes as moms.
We wear them like a badge of honor.
But not everyone’s journey is the same, so if you need some support through this, chat with your Peanut community.
We’re having the conversation.