Sadly a long-lasting reminder of pregnancy, that no woman wants, is stretch marks. Those ugly red lines that can appear on your waist, hips, thighs and any other regions that increased in size during your pregnancy.
While you were still in your early stages of pregnancy the chances are other mums did offer pregnancy advice about preventing stretch marks, but did you listen?
Advice for mums comes fast and furious in those early stages and it can be overwhelming taking everything on board. But pregnancy advice about stretch marks should be listened to!
You may not be able to prevent them from appearing, but you could probably minimize them.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks or striae to give them their proper name are caused by the tearing of the dermis layer of the skin which allows the darker red layers underneath to show through.
This tearing occurs in around 50% of women as their skin stretches over their growing belly and possibly thighs and breasts.
But genetic factors may also play a role. If your mother had them, the chances are you will have them too.
The appearance of stretch marks depends on the colour of a womans skin; they can be pink, red, reddish brown, brown, or dark brown, and usually fade over time to a more silvery appearance.
Advice for mums
Prevention is better than cure.
Most of the advice for mums with regarding stretch marks is to moisturise. Regular moisturising of the skin makes it becomes more pliant and better able to stretch without tearing.
You really cannot moisturise too much. The best advice for mums is to moisturise three or four times a day with products that contain cocoa butter or shea butter as a prime ingredient.
Other women like using oil-based products and in Mediterranean countries mums use natural oils like almond and olive oil.
Whatever you use massage the moisturizer deep into the tummy, hips, bottom and breasts.
Stretch mark removal or repair
If you already have stretch marks then treat them as early as possible. They react best to treatment when they are still red or purple.
Professional removal methods for stretch marks include glycolic acid treatments, which can be expensive and usually requires three or four visits to a specialist dermatologist. The glycolic acid is meant to boost collagen production.
Some therapists recommend using glycolic acid treatments in conjunction with a course of Vitamin C which is also meant to increase collagen production.
Retinoids have been shown to be fairly effective in increasing collagen and elastin production, but cannot be used if you are pregnant or nursing.
Laser treatment is now offered by many dermatologists, and is having some success with stretch marks.
Lasers work by promoting the synthesis of healthy, new collagen. Unfortunately several, very expensive, treatments are often needed.
The treatment, which must be carried out by a qualified therapist, will not renew the skin but can remove some of the redness of the marks.