Pregnancy stretch marks start to show on most women somewhere around 13 weeks to 21 weeks pregnant. More than 50% of all pregnant women get these pink (or sometimes red or purple) streaks. You’ll probably see them on your belly, butt, thighs, hips, and breasts.
Stretch marks are caused by little tears in layers of tissue when as it's pulled tight when you expand during pregnancy. Whether or not you’ll get stretch marks depends on if your mother had them. If she did, you probably will get them too. Gaining weight quickly during pregnancy will also make stretch marks more likely. Also, lighter-skinned women are more likely to get visible stretch marks than dark-skinned women are.
Although no one’s proven a way to treat or stop them, they won’t stay visible forever. After you deliver, stretch marks typically fade to a gray color. Here are a few ways to deal with the appearance of stretch marks:
- Make sure to get plenty of vitamin C and vitamin C-rich foods every day. Examples of foods that have lots of vitamin C in them are papaya, strawberries, and bell peppers. Vitamin C works to help in keeping your skin toned, so it’ll be at less risk for stretch marks.
- Keep your weight gain in check. By gaining pregnancy weight at a slow and steady pace, you’ll be preventing the risk of stretch marks. Yes, you’re “eating for two,” but one of you is tiny! Follow your doctor’s advice for how many calories you should be consuming every day during pregnancy.
- Use cocoa butter lotion or cream. By moisturizing your skin every day, you’ll cut down on itchy and dry skin that pregnancy can bring.
- Be patient. After you give birth, you can see a dermatologist for a Retin-A or laser therapy treatment. But make sure to wait to use these methods to treat stretch marks until after you give birth: they aren’t safe during pregnancy.