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You’ll read a lot in pregnancy books about how ‘blooming’ and ‘glowing’ you’ll look during the second trimester, and you may indeed… from the neck up. Just as your bump begins to blossom and you start to entertain hopes of looking something like that naked photo shoot Demi Moore once did during pregnancy, stretch marks are likely to start turning up, just to put your aspirations back in their place.
Stretch marks are red or purple streaks and lines that later will fade to a silvery white colour. They’re caused by tears in the dermis (the middle layer of your skin) when the skin is stretched more quickly than normal, and the red of the layer beneath shows through the tears, giving your body the charming look of a vintage road map (or the look of one who has been attacked, naked, by a maine coon).
They arrive as a result of sudden weight gain, or during pregnancy when you change shape very quickly. They tend to run in families so if your mum or sister had them it’s likely you will, too.
There are various lotions and potions on the market that claim to help prevent or fade stretchmarks. There’s little evidence to say whether or not they work, but there’s no reason not to give yourself a bit of pampering regularly, so if you fancy it, they’re worth a go - just don’t hold out too much hope of a miracle cure. As your body returns to its usual shape after birth the marks will eventually fade anyway.
A word of warning: you might find you get all the way through pregnancy with not a hint of a stretch mark, only to catch sight of yourself in the bathroom mirror, three days post-birth and find you are covered in them. Sadly, sudden weight loss as well as gain can cause them. One way or another, it seems, they’ll catch up with you.
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Discuss stretch marks and more
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