5 Ways to battle stretch marks during pregnancy before they start

May 19, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Image: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

The recent movement among women to embrace their stretch marks is inspirational. At the same time, many of us still want to prevent dermal and epidermal "tearing" whenever possible — five experts weighed in with their best suggestions.

5 Ways to battle stretch marks during pregnancy before they start

Stretch marks, which appear first as red marks and then gradually fade to pesky white or silvery little lines, are usually caused by the skin stretching during pregnancy — especially during the third trimester.

"If you get them, no big deal!" said Gina Mari, Beverly Hills aesthetician and the founder of Gina Mari Skincare. "There are safe and effective treatments that can be done once nursing is completed." Before you consider laser procedures or retinoic topicals for stretch marks, we spoke with five experts about five of the best ways to prevent stretch marks in the first place. Here's what they had to say:

1. Maintain a healthy diet

The number one tip — one experts agreed with across the board — was that the best way to prevent stretch marks is to eat a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and good fats. "Maintain a skin-nourishing diet during and after pregnancy," said Chicago-based skin care expert Dr. Mary Szatkowski-Pritikin. "The omega-3s found in fish, nuts, and flaxseed help skin recover and renew from the stress."

More: Miranda Kerr's big secret to avoiding stretch marks

2. Drink a lot of water

The bottom line is that stretch marks are hereditary and there is no real scientific proof that any of these methods work. But drinking a lot of water during pregnancy is one tip that is crucial for health, as well as beauty. And if Dr. Michelle Henry, a dermatologist with Sadick Dermatology, says there's a possibility it could help with stretch marks, we're game: "Hydration makes the skin more pliable and less prone to stretch marks during pregnancy."

3. Exercise

Yeah, yeah, we all know we have to exercise while pregnant in order to keep everything as toned as possible — only that isn't the sole reason why moving our bodies can prevent stretch marks. "Some causes of stretch marks are actually hormonal," said Rodrigo Diaz, a biochemist at GOA Skincare. "The Glucocorticoid hormone prevents the skin's fibroblasts to produce collagen fast enough and expand therefore causing scarring. To offset this hormone, a good exercise regimen can prove to decrease the amount released. Water aerobics would do just fine."

4. Moisturize with coconut oil

Mari admits there are no studies that suggest creams or oils can actually prevent stretch marks, but it is still important to exfoliate dead skin cells and add moisture to the skin. "Not only will it result in a healthy glow, it will also help with itchiness due to the stretching of the skin," Mari said. "Coconut oil contains a high amount of Vitamin E and it is 100 percent pregnancy safe — be sure to use amounts normally found in your diet, as excessive amounts are not proven safe."

More: How to hide stretch marks and cellulite

5. Don't literally eat for two

I'm sorry — experts agree there's no magic bullet when trying to avoid stretch marks. One of the best things you can do is maintain control over your diet so that your weight doesn't rapidly fluctuate. "The best way to fight stretch marks during pregnancy is to be healthy. You should be your healthiest self during pregnancy," said dermatologist Jill Waibel of Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute. "

Gain the appropriate amount of weight your OB suggests and understand that the phrase, 'eating for two' doesn’t exactly hold up. Your baby requires nutrients from food as he or she grows, but don't overdo it. You shouldn't 'eat' for two literally, but you should definitely 'think' for two, and understand your limits, your body, and be committed to a healthy lifestyle."

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