Stretch marks are striations or streaky indentations in the skin that have a pink or reddish/purple colour. The medical term is 'striae gravidarum', which is Latin for stripes of pregnancy and occur in about 90 per cent of all pregnancies because of the stretching of the skin caused by the mother's weight gain and the growing baby and uterus.
These marks are most likely to appear on your breasts, abdomen or thighs, particularly if you have fair skin or gain weight rapidly. After the pregnancy is over, they will gradually fade to a silver colour but will never totally disappear. There are several things you can do to minimise them:
- Keep your weight gain at a moderate amount (11.3 to 13.6 kg/25 to 30 pounds), and try to gain it gradually over the course of the pregnancy
- Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water
- Exercise regularly to promote circulation and strengthen supporting muscles
- Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra
- Apply creams or lotions to help with dryness or itching of your skin. However, these products will not prevent or alter stretch marks, so ignore false and expensive claims to this effect