Studies have shown that more than 70 percent of women will get stretch marks during pregnancy. Many will see the purple or white lines appear on their abdomen, thighs, arms and breasts. The stretch marks form when the skin rapidly expands and its elastic tissue tears.
Genetics likely play a part in determining if you will get stretch marks. Dr. Julie Scott of Scottsdale Perinatal Associates confirms this in a recent Pregnancy & Baby article, saying that children inherit skin patterns from their parents. Not surprisingly, she says that mothers of multiples are more susceptible to stretch marks. (Check out the pregnancy photos of "Octomom" Nadya Suleman for an extreme example.)
This budget-friendly cream ($5.48 at Wal-Mart) was the top choice of many editors, writers and readers. Containing cocoa butter, vitamin E, collagen, elastin and shea butter, this cream is safe to use during pregnancy.
Our international content editor is a fan of Mustela Double Action Stretch Mark Cream . "A little on the expensive side, but it was my only indulgence (I swear!) and it did a good job! No stretch mark in sight! Oh yes, when I saw "double action" -- whatever that meant -- I was hooked. It worked -- no stretch marks on this tummy! I'm definitely planning to use the same next time. -- Josée Laflèche, international marketing coordinator and content editor
"I don't think it's genetics. My mom was loaded with stretch marks on her little tummy. My tummy stretched a ton and I didn't get any (thank goodness!). I was too nauseated the first four months to use anything. Afterward, I used Neutrogena Body Oil (light sesame formula). I used it before I was married, and 20 years later, I'm still using it. And my little girl said it makes me smell like I did when she was a baby. -- Mary Fetzer, SheKnows writer and blogger
"Believe it or not, I never got any after four kids. The last three babies were big, too: between 8 pounds 10 ounces and 9 pounds 4 ounces. I'm not sure if it was the pure cocoa butter I often put on my itchy tummy, but it sure smelled great!" -- Vanessa Sands, SheKnows copy editor
"I have to agree: I think it may be genetics. But, for good measure, for both of my pregnancies I used Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Balm. No stretch marks here, so maybe it was worth the $11.00 per jar I paid. Only con I can think of was that I wasn't a huge fan of the scent, but maybe that can be chalked up to morning sickness. (Did anything smell good?!) -- Michelle Maffei, SheKnows writer
"I used California Baby Lotion. It's meant for babies, but I like it for myself for its low score at the Cosmetic Safety Database. I don't know if there was any stretch mark prevention (I had some from my prior pregnancies but didn't get any this last time), but it made my skin feel great!" -- Monica Beyer, SheKnows writer
Coconut Body Butter by The Body Shop -- my favorite. And though it didn't prevent me from getting stretch marks, it worked great when my belly was itching like crazy, and it smelled so good. -- Crystal Patriarch of RealMomsGuide.com.
"I had gained 50 pounds with my son and paid for it in stretch marks. Red and all over my belly, hips, breasts, even my inner thighs. I used Palmer's Cocoa Butter for Stretch Marks and it didn't work for me. Anyway, after the weight was lost, I still had all those stretch marks and was totally disgusted. So I bought Scar Zone. It worked like I could never have hoped. My stretch marks are completely faded, and you can barely notice them now unless you look really hard. All you have to do is rub a small amount on the affected areas two to three times a day for two or three minutes -- just massage it in. I increased the moisture content a bit with plain Vaseline (so it was easier to keep rubbing without adding more; it's kind of expensive, about $9 for a 1-ounce tube!). The tube lasted about a month, and that's about how long it took to work. One amazing product, and I owe loads of self confidence to it. -- MissKyla, SheKnows message board reader
Although stretch mark creams don't work for everyone, they are apparently worth a try. At the very least, they will soothe your itchy skin during pregnancy. If you have stretch marks that cream does not fix, try self-tanning lotion for a quick remedy. Also, talk to your doctor about other treatments for stretch marks, including Retin-A and laser therapy.
If all else fails, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone! "I never really used anything -- and my 11-pounders also probably made it a moot point. I used to say I didn't have stretch marks... I was a stretch mark," says Nancy Price, co-founder and executive editor of SheKnows.com.
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