Monday, 7 April 2008

What are stretch marks and how to avoid them during pregnancy

According to NHS direct, between 75% and 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy. As you put on weight, your abdomen (stomach) is gradually stretched further and further, usually causing stretch marks to appear in the sixth or seventh month. Stretch marks can also appear on your thighs, and on your breasts as they get bigger and heavier.

Stretch marks are lines on the skin that start off as raised red lines. They then turn purple, before slowly fading into flat silvery streaks. The medical name for this type of mark is stria. Stretch marks happen when the skin is stretched a lot over a short period of time, such as during pregnancy.

Doctors think some people get stretch marks because their bodies produce more of the hormone, coricosteroid, than normal. This hormone decreases the amount of collagen in the skin, which is a type of protein in the fibres of the skin that keeps it stretchy.

In the early stages, stretch marks can sometimes be reduced by moisturising creams – especially those containing vitamins A and E, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown. Consequently, it would stand to reason that including foods rich in these vitamins during your pregnancy would help to avoid getting stretch marks in the first place. Other important skin nutrients include Zinc, silica and water.

As corticosteroid is a stress hormone, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, taking steps to reduce stress during pregnancy may also help.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your diet during your pregnancy, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.