Pregnant woman: How to avoid stretch marks? (physio advice)

stretch mark during pregnancy

Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine

A woman's body has an extraordinary ability to adapt during pregnancy. He has nine months to transform. Even though the changes happen automatically, we have the possibility to minimize some problems caused by these transformations. Understanding why stretch marks can appear allows us to be able to prevent their appearance.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also known among medical professionals as Stritae distensae, are areas of skin where the deep dermis, located between the epidermis and hypodermis, has spontaneously torn. When they appear, they have the form of streaks resembling scars in length, purplish red in color, and are inflammatory.

Who is likely to get stretch marks?

Stretch marks are more common in women, affecting 70% of teenage girls during puberty and up to 90% of pregnant women.

How are stretch marks formed?

Mechanical causes 

While the exact pathogenesis of stretch marks remains unclear, there is an observed correlation in circumstances where the skin is stretched.

Classic examples of this are in pregnancy and rapid growth during puberty.

The biochemical causes 

Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can cause stretch marks because higher concentrations of glucocorticoids reduce the elasticity of the skin, which is essential to keep the skin taut and prevent tearing. It is probably related to stretch marks in pregnancy, as there is a higher cortisol concentration during pregnancy.

So we clearly find two factors favoring the appearance of stretch marks; the first mechanical factor of stretching of the skin beyond its elastic capacity and the second linked to the internal biochemistry of cortisol regulation.

What are the preventive solutions?

First solution against stretch marks is to avoid taking corticosteroids in agreement with your doctor.

Second preventive solution against the appearance of stretch marks is to avoid stretching the skin beyond its elastic capacities.

How does the skin work?

The skin tissue is a protective layer from the outside but it has no retractile or muscular capacity.

It has the capacity over time and with habits to grow or shrink.

What the skin can't do?

The skin does not have the capacity to support weight.

If it is subjected to strong pressure maintained over several weeks, the skin stretches, it becomes thinner and more fragile, even tearing, leaving streaks.

How to help the skin of the belly not to be overstretched during a pregnancy?

In the stomach, what holds our viscera in place is the abdominal wall made up of several powerful muscles.

When these muscles weaken and lose their tone, the belly sticks out for lack of support.

The only effective solution against overstretching the skin of the belly is to keep the abdominal muscles toned so that they are the ones that support the weight of the baby.

How to keep a toned abdominal belt?

Simply by maintaining regular physical activity for as long as possible while respecting the changes inherent in pregnancy.

Walking, swimming, gentle gymnastics, yoga, dance, gardening, etc are part of the recommended practices throughout a pregnancy.

Exercising or carrying weight won't harm the baby?

The baby is protected in a pocket of water. The first three months, the size of the pocket is so small that the movements that one can make have very little incidence.

The second trimester, it is possible to feel discomfort during movements but as long as the body does not send pain signals, we can continue.

During the third trimester of pregnancy, there will be limitations in some of your movements, but it is important to maintain physical activity and adapt your practices according to your feelings!

(Personally, I gave fitness and yoga classes until the last month of my third pregnancy, my body was thanks to this regular practice in excellent health and full of energy.)

Other benefits of staying physically active during pregnancy?

When the baby comes out, the abdominal muscles that have been kept toned return to their places much more quickly and the belly will return to how it was before in a few weeks.

Are there specific exercises?

Today, health professionals have set up specialized programs for pregnant women to help and guide them in their pregnancies.

Do not hesitate to call on them, to register for courses dedicated to pregnant women.

As my grandfather, an obstetrician, used to say: pregnancy is not a disease!

The best service you can do your body during pregnancy is to stay toned.


Yolanda Smith, B.Pharm. from New Medical Life Science:

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