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Stretch marks are very common and they cannot be prevented altogether. However, the following advice may help you to reduce your risk of developing stretch marks.

Maintain a healthy weight

One of the most common causes of stretch marks is gaining weight in a short period of time. Putting on a lot of weight and diets that cause your weight to change rapidly can cause stretch marks to form because your skin is literally stretched by the sudden growth.

If you need to lose weight, aim to do it slowly by ensuring that you get plenty of regular exercise and by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

You can also find out if you are overweight or obese by using our body mass index (BMI) calculator.

Look after your skin

Massaging your skin everyday with moisturiser or a massage glove can help to improve your circulation and encourage new tissue growth.

It is also important for you to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals - particularly vitamins E and C and the minerals zinc and silicon. These vitamins and minerals help to keep your skin healthy.

Gain weight steadily during pregnancy

If you are pregnant, it is normal and healthy to put on a lot of weight in a short space of time but it is a myth that you need to 'eat for two'. You are more likely to get stretch marks during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that affect your skin. However, you may be able to minimise their appearance by gaining pregnancy weight steadily.

While you are pregnant you need to take in approximately 2,500 calories a day. However, this is only 500 calories more than a woman's normal recommended calorie intake.

It is important that these calories come from a well-balanced diet that is rich in wholewheat carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta as well as fruit and vegetables.

During pregnancy, your weight gain should be slow and gradual. As a rough guide:

  • it is normal to gain 1-2kg (2-4lb) over the first 12 weeks,
  • from week 12-28, it is normal to gain 300-400g (10-14oz) a week, and
  • from week 28-40 (the last three months) it is normal to gain 1-3kg (2-6lb) a month.

See your GP, midwife or health visitor if you are worried that you are not gaining weight at a healthy rate.

view information about Stretch Marks on www.nhs.co.uk »

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