Stretch Marks in Pregnancy: Are They Preventable?

Stretch marks in pregnancy…almost inevitable and unfortunately you appear to have little control.  I have had 3 pregnancies and with each one, my stretch marks slowly increased. I do recall an interesting conversation with my OB with baby #3.  She mentioned that I was lucky to have minimal stretch marks and to thank my genetics. I was slightly surprised by this conversation but then I thought about my Nana. She had multiple pregnancies and gave birth to 6 full-term babies and I have never noticed her stretch marks after years of pool parties. So, does your mother or grandmother have bad or minimal stretch marks, this could be your indicator as to what you are in for. 

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, or striae, is scarring. During periods of rapid weight gain (like seen in pregnancy) or weight loss, when our skin rapidly stretches or shrinks, the abrupt changes cause the collagen and elastin that support our skin to rupture (AAD, 2019). As the skin heals, stretch marks or scars appear. When they first appear they tend to be colored, depending on your skin color. They can feel itchy and slightly raised. With time, the colors tend to fade and the narrow band sinks beneath your skin. 

Are stretch marks considered hereditary or are there things that we can do to prevent or at least decrease the effect?  According to the American Dermatologist Association, my OB was correct. It is believed that hormonal fluctuations and family history are both related to the development of stretch marks. However, I was able to discover a few tips, perhaps helping you to decrease the severity. Please remember to always consult with your MD, when pregnant or breastfeeding, before using any stretch mark creams as certain ingredients like retinol can be harmful to baby.

  • Use safe creams daily and before stretch marks appear or as soon as they appear
  • Take your time and massage the cream into the stretch mark
  • It usually takes weeks to see a difference so be consistent
  • Take a deep breath…your body is doing an amazing thing and these scars are part of your journey

Not all creams/treatments are effective for everyone. If you are really unhappy with your stretch marks, consult a local dermatologist.   


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