Around 70 percent of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy, according to a 2009 study published in "Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia." Unfortunately, no cream or product will prevent or erase stretch marks, says Dr. Cheryl Lee Eberting, a dermatologist practicing in Alpine, Utah. Prevention is the name of the game, she adds, and simple lifestyle changes can reduce your chances of developing stretch marks.
Drink lots of water -- about a half gallon each day, according to Dr. Aviva Jill Romm, author of "The Natural Pregnancy Book." Drinking an adequate amount of water helps keep skin soft and supple, so stretch marks are less likely to develop, says the Cleveland Clinic, which also suggests you avoid coffee, tea or soft drinks containing caffeine, which can increase the risk of stretch marks.
A balanced diet can reduce the chances of developing stretch marks. Eat one or two servings of zinc-rich fish or nuts per week, along with daily servings of foods high in vitamins A, C, and D -- such as carrots, citrus fruits and milk, respectively -- suggests the Cleveland Clinic. It notes that eating protein-rich foods, such as eggs, milk and lean meats, can also improve skin tone.
Watch Your Weight
Women who gain more weight during pregnancy are more likely to develop stretch marks than those who maintain a moderate weight gain, according to the 2009 study. Although you don't want to skip meals, you can reduce the risk of stretch marks by maintaining an appropriate weight gain through moderate exercise and a healthy diet. Depending on your weight before pregnancy, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic, but talk with your doctor about how much weight gain is right for you.
Statistically, the chances are high that you'll develop stretch marks at some point in your pregnancy -- usually after the 25th week, according to the 2009 study. Stretch marks are caused by a combination of factors, including your genes, hormone levels and the skin's natural stretching to allow for the growth of your baby. Try not to look at those silvery lines as imperfections, but rather as the physical proof of the amazing work your body is doing, suggests Romm. If you're not quite able to enthusiastically embrace stretch marks, remember that they'll fade once your baby arrives.