Are pregnancy stretch marks different than other stretch marks?
Up to 90% of women develop stretch marks at some point during their pregnancy. Stretch marks can also result from puberty or any other rapid weight gain. But is there a difference between the stretch marks of a teenager hitting puberty and a woman in the 7th month of pregnancy?
A stretch mark is a stretch mark
The long and short of it is this: stretch marks are pretty much all the same. Of course, they can vary in location and severity, but the differences stop there.
Our skin is elastic – it’s designed to “expand” as we grow... But only to a point. Simply put, stretch marks develop when we “grow” faster than our skin can expand. So when we gain weight rapidly; or develop breasts and hips during puberty; or when our waistlines expand during pregnancy, it’s no surprise that many of us get stretch marks.
An additional link between pregnancy and stretch marks?
While still a subject of heated debate among experts, it has been hypothesized that pregnancy hormones themselves are at least partially responsible for stretch marks.
The theory is that increased hormone levels during pregnancy prime the skin to attract more water into the skin, which in turn loosens the bonds between collagen fibers –making it more likely that skin will become damaged (develop stretch marks) when it stretches.
Slow and steady wins the race (when it comes to pregnancy weight gain)
Of course, sometimes it’s not entirely possible to control weight gain (especially during puberty and pregnancy). But gaining weight gradually can help reduce the likelihood of stretch marks. Below is a loose guideline average weight gain during pregnancy.*
- Average weight gain is 2 - 4 lb over the first 12 weeks
- Average weight gain during weeks 12 - 28 is 10 - 14 oz per week
- Average weight gain from weeks 28-40 (the last trimester) is 2 - 6 lb per month
*Note: It is critical to discuss pregnancy weight gain with your doctor. There are underlying conditions that could affect how much weight you can (and should) gain to ensure a healthy pregnancy – for both you and your baby. The numbers above are simply an average, and may not be appropriate for everyone.
By: Tracy Hughes