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Pregnancy Stretch Marks: Causes & Solutions


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Pregnancy can be a beautifully overwhelming experience with thoughts of welcoming the baby and the excitement of motherhood. The other side less pretty side of pregnancy is pregnancy symptoms and marks the baby leaves on the stomach due to stretching of the skin.

The stretch marks of pregnancy are not restricted to the belly. They can appear on the upper thighs, buttocks, and breasts. They are characterized by streaks or lines developed due to skin dryness and stretching during pregnancy. These common stretch marks can affect almost 90% of pregnant women.

 According to the National Health Service, UK, stretch marks can be irritating, with initial signs being skin thinning and itching. However, they aren’t harmful and do not manifest into any medical condition. This article explores the causes and ways to prevent and treat stretch marks during pregnancy. 

Stretch marks during pregnancy: When do they develop?

Many women proudly wear their stretch marks of pregnancy on their skin as a “red tag of motherhood.” Though seen in different shades of pink, brown, red, or purple, the stretch marks during pregnancy can get bothersome for a few. 

The stretch marks in pregnancy start to be seen near the end of the second trimester. This is nearly when you have entered the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. However, it is believed that it can appear sooner as well.  

The commonly seen stretch mark areas include the belly, buttocks, upper thighs, hips, and breasts. Once the baby is born, these stretch marks gradually fade, become paler, or get less noticeable. 

What are the causes of stretch marks in pregnancy?

Stretch marks are a common skin problem that can affect anyone. These are due to the minute tears of the skin’s supporting layer that get pulled when the skin stretches out, especially the stretch mark on the stomach. 

These marks can occur during pregnancy while growing during puberty when putting on weight. The stretch marks affect the most when the skin elasticity is affected. 

Genetics is also one of the reasons for stretch marks during pregnancy. If your mother had stretch marks, you have a higher chance of developing them. Other factors contributing to stretch marks in pregnancy are how much weight you gain and how quickly you put on weight. 

Pregnant women who gain weight rapidly have higher chances of developing and retaining stretch marks, as the skin stretches too quickly and can tear to leave a mark. However, lifestyle modifications, exercising, and healthy food habits can help improve skin health and elasticity. 

How to minimise stretch marks during pregnancy?

Stretch marks are marks of pregnancy and motherhood that the little one keeps reminding you of his presence. However, you can try to reduce their appearance with the following tips.  

Moisturise and massaging

Massaging with the help of a pregnancy stretch mark cream on the stomach, hips, and thighs can significantly help. Some research suggests that a combination of Centella herb and hyaluronic formulation can help promote skin elasticity and prevent stretch marks.

Natural ingredients, such as cocoa butter, essential oils with vitamin E, olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil, are effective on stretch marks. These plant-based oils show anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that heal and repair the skin while promoting skin hydration. 

Even moisturisers eliminate skin dryness and itchiness. Moisturising every day can effectively reduce stretch marks. However, connect with your doctor on pregnancy-safe and skin-friendly formulations that can be used through the pregnancy and cause no other skin problems. 

A dash of vitamins

Pregnancy and nutrition go hand in hand. Ensure that you get enough nutrients every day, which is a prerequisite for your health and the baby’s development. Keep taking your daily requirement of prenatal vitamins. 

Have a diet rich in vitamin C foods like citrus fruits, berries, peppers, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Vitamin C boosts collagen growth and new tissue formation. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that improves skin elasticity and strength. 

Get enough vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D in sources like dairy products, eggs, and fish help minimise stretch marks. Other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and choline also help with stretch mark reduction. 

Have a slow and steady weight gain

Rapid weight gain in pregnancy can cause tiny skin tears and stretch marks. Gaining weight at a slow and steady pace can help prevent their occurrence. 

Talk to your dermatologist post pregnancy

Stretch marks gradually go away after the pregnancy term. However, if they don’t, see a dermatologist and discuss options to remove them. Apart from over-the-counter medications, topical creams, and oils, your dermatologist may suggest the following cosmetic procedures to make them less noticeable after pregnancy.

  • Chemical peels,
  • Microdermabrasion,
  • Laser therapy,
  • Skin resurfacing, and 
  • Microneedling.

These methods may be solutions, but none of them are safe during pregnancy. You will need to hold on and wait till your pregnancy term completes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?

There’s no proven method of preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. One can always try to keep their skin moisturised and hydrated through creams, oil massages, and pregnancy-safe lotions to prevent stretch marks or reduce their appearance. 

When can I expect the pregnancy stretch marks to go away?

Stretch marks usually start by the end of the second trimester or by 6th month of pregnancy. They also may become more noticeable after pregnancy. However, they lighten or fade within six months of childbirth. 

When can I start using belly cream during pregnancy?

You can start using dermat-recommended pregnancy stretch marks cream from the start of your pregnancy, even before you notice marks. These creams can help prevent stretch marks or lighten their appearance. 


Stretch marks are very common during pregnancy. Most women now a days chose to wear them as a sign of pride and embrace them more openly. Stretch marks in pregnancy are primarily due to the tearing of the deeper skin tissues and expansion of the skin. Though they stay throughout the pregnancy term, they can diminish within six months of childbirth. 

These marks are typically harmless and do not harm the baby or cause medical complications. If you want to eliminate pregnancy related stretch marks, you can consult a dermatologist after pregnancy for alternative cosmetic treatments. It is also possible to combat strech marks during pregnancy, you can consult your doctor for the same and avoid developing stretch marks all together. 

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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