Nine months of growing another human being inside of a woman's body takes a toll. Seriously. Pregnancy changes women – in ways that they totally didn’t expect. Some women went from skinny jeans to an oddly-stretchy elastic belly band in mere months. And, now they’re expected to bounce back? Ugh! Come on, it’s not like they’re an SI swimsuit model.
If only pregnancy meant an itsy bitsy adorably sweet little belly bump. Sure, for some women it does. But, most are not one of those women. Not only does the belly grow, and grow, and then grow some more, but the backside went from kind of flat to full-on Kardashian. Then there are the boobs. Maybe they used-to-be B’s, now they've ballooned out to double D’s, and then they went back down. Like, way back down.
So, what do we have now? Well, to start with mom has an awesomely amazing baby. All of the expanding that her body did is so worth it when it comes to that beautiful little guy or gal who is suddenly brightening her life. But, she also has another new friend: Stretch marks!
That’s right, she's got those pinkish, uneven lines scrawled out all over her body. They’re on her abdomen. They’re on her sides. They’re under her boobs. And, they’re taking over her thighs. Stretch marks are a result of her body expanding faster than her skin does. As the body stretches the skin above it, the elastic fibers (underneath the surface of the skin) break.
For many mamas the stretch marks gradually fade and go away. Yay! But, for some they just don’t. If a woman's marks aren’t getting to the point she needs a quick disappearing act, she isn’t alone. Check out the top reasons why those stretch marks aren’t going anywhere.
15 There's No Miracle Cream
It’s a miracle! You turn on the TV at 2 a.m. (for one of those middle of the night feedings) and see THE cream to end all creams. The infomercial has a “real” mom who has stretch marks galore. Said “real” mom is just at her wit’s end. She’s lost all of the baby weight, fits back into her pre-preggo clothes and has worked her way out into being a size 2. But, she still has stretch marks.
Aw, boo-hoo. We feel so sad for the poor “real” mom. She’s totally skinny again, but has to deal with three or four random purple lines on her otherwise perfect tummy. Hmm. You’re starting to compare her mini marks with the train tracks that are crisscrossing your abdomen, chest and lower body.
Well, if the cream she’s slathering on can take her very few stretch marks from obvious to invisible, won’t it do the same thing for you too?
After you rock baby to sleep, you whip out your credit card and order yourself up a vat of the miracle cream. When it finally arrives at your doorstep, you immediate start slathering yourself with it. And you slather some more. And, then even more. But nothing’s happening. Why are those marks sticking around?
The supposed stretch mark miracle the cream claims to perform is bunk. Just like that special shampoo you ordered from the back of a preteen magazine in 1985 didn’t really help your hair to grow six inches in a month, the most-hyped creams won’t instantly remove your marks.
14 Genetics At Work
You have vague memories of your own mother’s favorite swimsuit. It had polka-dots, a swimmy skirt and showed off her – um, stretch marks. Yes that’s right, you gave your mother stretch marks.
When she was pregnant with you her body (just like yours did when you were preggo too) and her skin didn’t keep up. So, she ended up with those little purplish pink lines on her thighs, on her stomach and along her sides.
What does this have to do with you? You might be more likely to have stretch marks if your mama did. Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed a possible link between genetics and an increased risk of getting the marks. That means if your mother had stretch marks, you might too.
A genetic predisposition towards having the marks means that you might be sort of stuck with the lines. Keep in mind, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get them or that you’ll keep them. Your mama might look like a patchwork of lines, and you might never see one. Does that mean that the research is entirely wrong?
Probably not. Don’t forget, your genes comes from more than just your mother. Your father’s side of the family might be mark-prone too!
13 Skin That Won’t Snap Back
Stretch marks happen when the elastic fibers underneath your skin break. When this happens your body tried to right the wrong. Of course. But, in some cases this just doesn’t happen. When your body can’t fix the broken elastic bonds, the marks tend to stay.
What happens next? You may notice that your skin is somewhat looser. This is a result of the broken elastic bonds. When they don’t heal, the marks may still fade. Just not completely.
Even though the area isn’t as firm or smooth as it was before pregnancy (come on, really nothing on or in your body is the same as it was before carrying that kiddo around for three trimesters), the marks aren’t necessarily as dark as they were at first. Those deep maroon-ish purple lines might gradually go from ultra-noticeable to much less ‘there’.
But, that doesn’t mean they’re going to completely disappear. Mature marks are often much lighter than new ones – but, they’ll still stick around.
12 Don't Want To Try Microdermabrasion
It’s exfoliating gone wild! Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic medical procedure that a dermatologist can do. During the procedure, the doc uses a special hand-held device to gently buff away the top layer of skin. Um, ouch! Seriously.
Who would want to do that?
Well, anyone who isn’t a fan of stretch marks. The doctor-grade exfoliating treatment gets rid of that old, broken skin and makes way for a new layer to grow.
Microdermabrasion typically takes several treatment session to work. You may see some results right away. But, it will take some time before you see any major changes. This might mean going back for at least five sessions. The exact amount that it takes depends on your individual situation. Every woman is different, and every woman’s body responds differently too.
If you have no plans to try microdermabrasion or you don’t go back for enough sessions, it’s likely that those marks aren’t going anywhere.
11 Mom Is Expecting Again
Those stretch marks that crept up after baby number one were starting to fade. They started out bold and bright (and, not in a good way at all). Then they matured into greyish, light pink lines. Before you knew it, those marks were almost gone.
Months went by. Maybe it was a year or more. Whatever the amount of time, you’re suddenly feeling queasy. Your tummy is turning, your boobs ache and you’ve got that ‘feeling’. When Aunt Flo doesn’t come to town, you head to the pharmacy for an at-home pregnancy test.
The little pink line pops up and confirms what you already knew deep down inside – you’re pregnant! Again. Before you can say, “second baby” your belly is stretching and your boobs are busting out of your biggest bra.
Adding a second (or third, fourth or more) pregnancy on top of the first one just adds to the skin stretch. The marks that haven’t faded away are about to get a few new friends.
10 Getting The Wrong Treatment
You’re all about the lotion. That bath and body store at the mall is your fave, and you have lotions and potions that smell like everything from honeydew melons to strawberry fields. Given that you have no less than four dozen bottles of lotion stashed in your bathroom cabinet, under the sink and in the linen closet, you feel pretty much set when it comes to nourishing your skin.
So, you lotion away. You massage those scented concoctions into the stretch marks and wait to see what happens. The result? A big nothing. Your everyday lotion isn’t likely to cut it when it comes to fading stretch marks. If you’re slathering yourself in random creams, don’t expect the marks to go away.
What will work? Aside from physically changing your skin with microdermabrasion (or something similar), a tretinoin cream (such as Retin-A) can fade the marks. That doesn’t mean a single coating of the cream will make your stretch marks go away. It takes months of applications to gradually take care of them. If you’re not sure what will work, talk to your doctor. A dermatologist can direct you to research-based remedies.
9 Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss
That steady weight gain during those long nine months made your skin stretch – and unbearably so. After delivery day you were so ready to start losing weight. You have fond memories of your pre-baby body, and you want it back. With the doctor’s help, you change your eating habits and get back to your gym routine.
With all that weight loss, those not-so-nice little stretch marks should go away. Right? Um, maybe not. This is especially true when you have rapid weight loss (which totally isn’t recommended after pregnancy, or anytime for that matter).
Your body won’t bounce back to those pre-baby days right away. Even those celeb mamas take time to get back to their before-the-baby bodies. Losing too much weight too quickly may result in sagging skin.
While this won’t give you new stretch marks, or make them worse, it may make them more noticeable. Losing weight (again, especially a lot of weight quickly) may change the placement of those marks. They may end up closer to one another, making them much easier to see.
8 Waiting Out The Stretch Marks Might Not Work
They’ll fade. That’s what your BFF told you. She heard that you can just wait out those unsightly stretch marks. Even though she hasn’t had a baby, her cousin’s co-worker’s mother said that she did absolutely nothing and her marks went away for good. So, that means it will work for you too. Well, maybe. But, probably not.
Those major marks that are left behind from the serious stretching that happened when your baby bump grew and grew and grew aren’t going to stay the same color that they were during or right after pregnancy. At least, not forever.
Rad! That means your stretch marks will totally fade away, right? Waiting it out may not do the trick. Over time your marks won’t look the same. They’ll change and may even become whitish (instead or purple, red or pink). That doesn’t mean they’ll go away though. Even with a lighter hue, you’ll still see those stretch marks.
7 Every Mommy Is An Individual
Just because your BFF’s, old college roommate’s or co-worker’s stretch marks faded almost into oblivion doesn’t mean yours will. Sorry. It sucks, but it’s just a fact of mommy-ing life. So, you have stretch marks. We get it. Plenty of pregnant women get them. And then you thought they’d poof – disappear, just because you aren’t preggo anymore.
After all, it happened to someone else. Why wouldn’t it happen to you?
Okay, you know you’re an individual. You figured that out a long time ago. You have your own sense of style, your own way of doing things and apparently your own way of healing after getting stretch marks.
Whether you choose to do nothing or try a treatment, every person responds differently. Think about it. How many times have you tried a face cream, shampoo or firming mask that supposedly worked wonders for your friend? Probably more than once. And, then what happened? Maybe it worked. But, maybe it didn’t.
You went back to said friend and snarked, “Yeah right. That face cream really reduces wrinkles” in a totally sarcastic tone.
Hey, maybe it did – for her. You’re a different story. The same goes for stretch marks. A treatment that may boast an 80 or 90 percent effectiveness rate may work for tons of other mommies, just not for you. It happens. No two people are exactly alike.
6 Medications Can Cause Skin Issues
If you’re on a corticosteroid, you may not get rid of those pesky marks. Not only might you not nix the marks, but you might end up getting more. Your body produces cortisone in the adrenal glands. Too much of it can weaken the elastic fibers in your skin.
When you have weak elastic fibers, stretch marks can easily form. Does this mean everyone whose body produces cortisone will get the marks? Nope. Plenty of people never get a single mark. Unless you have a disorder that causes your adrenal glands not to function, at some time or another you’ll have cortisone pumping through your body.
Why would a doctor prescribe a corticosteroid? An allergic reaction that includes swelling, hives and massive itching is one of the main reasons for people taking this medication. Other people may have a steroid prescription for specific health conditions (such as Bell’s palsy).
Adding a corticosteroid (medication) may increase your risk for developing stretch marks that stay. Along with having more cortisone in your body, the steroid may slow down the healing process (making your stretch marks stick around) or cause weight gain (which can contribute to more marks).
5 Mama's Not Hydrated Enough
Even though there’s no 100 percent guaranteed way to prevent stretch marks, keeping yourself hydrated may help. Staying hydrated during pregnancy isn’t always easy. You’re currently cursing the person who coined the term ‘morning sickness’, given the fact that you’re nauseas 24-7.
Yep, all that vomiting is so, so, so not pleasant. You feel like you’re on a teeny tiny boat in the middle of a rocky ocean. Then there are the smells. Everything makes you want to heave. And, then you do – heave, that is. The result? You curl into a ball and cry until your baby gets here and you don’t have to deal with morning sickness anymore.
So, maybe that’s kind of extreme. Or maybe it’s your everyday truth. In either case, morning sickness makes you dehydrated. And, that can lead to stretch marks. Hydrated skin is soft, supple and snaps back better than the dry, dehydrated kind. If you’re not drinking (or keeping down) enough water, you may be at risk for marks that stay.
4 Caffeine Is The Culprit
Water isn’t the only nutritional issue that you need to look out for. Obviously what you put into your body plays a huge role in your pregnancy. You try to stay away from cupcakes, cookies and chips (yeah we know, it’s rough). You also made a point to give up margaritas, Grande lattes and the bottomless cup of coffee at your favorite breakfast joint.
Sure, you change your diet to make sure that your growing baby is developing the best that she can when she’s inside of you. But, what you eat also helps you stay healthy. A diet that’s high in caffeine may contribute to stretch marks. If you’re downing caffeinated soda and still drinking coffee, those marks may not fade away.
Aside from the effects of the caffeine itself, it can also cause dehydration. This plays into the “keep drinking water” idea. Too much caffeine and not enough water may dehydrate your entire body – including your skin!
3 Not Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Um, okay you don’t necessarily need to keep popping those prenatals to keep your skin healthy and make those stretch marks fade. But, you do need to make sure that your diet is rich in vitamins A, C and E. Along with that, using creams or lotions containing these vitamins may help your marks make a move towards the lighter side of things.
If you’re not into a diet packed with A, C or E those marks might not fade as quickly as they would otherwise.
Why are these so important to your skin’s health? To start with, vitamin A helps new skin cells form. You can get it from orange fruits and veggies, such as apricots, sweet potatoes and carrots along with leafy greens (so eat that spinach and kale). When it comes to topical A creams, they’ve been known to fade dark spots and smooth out rough areas.
Vitamin C also helps new skin cell formation. Along with your morning OJ, you can find it in grapefruit and other citrus fruits. C-containing creams may fight discoloration and help to smooth and firm your skin.
Vitamin E, which you can find in avocados and nuts, helps to repair damaged skin. Applied topically, it adds moisture, cutting down on the dehydration factor.
2 Exercise Isn’t Happening
Going to the gym is kind of the last thing on your mind right now. You just had a baby and it’s taking everything you have just to get through a day filled with poopy diapers and endless feedings.
You’ve got a mountain of laundry and you’re pretty sure that the new ottoman that mysteriously showed up in your living room is really made out of pet hair that you haven’t gotten around to sweeping up.
Hey, that’ okay. No one expects you to be a new mama and a superwoman all at the same time. It’s just not a reasonable expectation. So, that means that little extras (such as washing your hair, putting on lipstick and hitting the gym) might not happen right away.
Even though you don’t have a schedule that’s wide open, avoiding all exercise won’t do much when it comes to your marks. Exercise increases circulation. This can help your skin maintain its elasticity. The more elastic your skin is, the less likely it is that your stretch marks will stay.
1 It's Just The New Body
Let’s face it, some mamas never go back to their pre-baby bodies. You had an itsy bitsy little butt, super-slim hips and mark-free skin. You’ve dieted, you’ve exercised, you’ve taken all kinds of vitamins and still see nothing.
Okay, chances are that the ‘nothing’ you’re seeing isn’t real. Your body has changed since pregnancy. You no longer have a baby growing inside of you and you’ve lost weight. Expecting that you’ll look like a runway-ready model right away is totally unrealistic. Having a baby changed your body, and perhaps permanently.
If those marks aren’t fading into nothing, you may be seeing one of those not-so-pleasant lasting changes. Before you invest in a wardrobe of beach cover-ups and potato sack-like mumus, keep in mind – your post-baby body is entirely worthy of your love.
Yeah, you might have some leftover stretch marks. Who cares! Now you have a beautiful baby. Now wasn’t that worth it?
Sources: Prevention.com, Americanpregnancy.org, ClevelandClinic.org, ScienceDaily.com