Your pregnancy and baby guideStretch marks in pregnancy
- Getting pregnant
- Secrets to success
- Am I pregnant?
- I'm pregnant
- Early days
- Week by week
- Preparing for the birth
- Work out your due date
- Tests scans and checks
- Your pregnancy (antenatal) care
- Your health and wellbeing
- Healthy eating
- Foods to avoid
- Drinking alcohol while pregnant
- Vitamins and supplements
- Stop smoking
- Your baby's movements
- Sex in pregnancy
- Pharmacy and prescription medicines
- Reduce your risk of stillbirth
- Illegal drugs in pregnancy
- Your health at work
- Pregnancy infections
- If you're a teenager
- Existing health problems
- Common pregnancy ailments
- Pregnancy-induced conditions
- Labour and birth
- The start of labour
- The birth
- Emotions and worries
- Premature babies
- Your newborn
- How to breastfeed
- Breastfeeding problems
- Lifestyle and breastfeeding
- Bottle feeding
- Newborn screening tests
- Newborn essentials
- New parents
- New mums
- Twins and multiples
- Babies and toddlers
- Weaning and solid foods
- Baby health and care
- Spotting signs of serious illness
- Reflux in babies
- How to take a baby's temperature
- Reducing the risk of SIDS
- Treating a high temperature
- Sleep problems in children
- Coughs, colds and ear infections
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Infectious illnesses
- Children's medicines
- Looking after a sick child
- Serious conditions and special needs
- Constipation in young children
- Your baby's height and weight
- Baby health and development reviews
- Leg and foot problems in children
- Learning, play and behaviour
- Safety and accidents
Pregnancy stretch marks
Stretch marks are narrow pink or purplish streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin.
If you get them, they usually appear on your tummy, or sometimes on your upper thighs and breasts, as your pregnancy progresses and your bump starts to grow. When this happens will be different from woman to woman.
The first sign you notice might be itchiness around an area where the skin is becoming thin and pink.
Stretch marks aren't harmful. They don't cause medical problems and there isn't a specific treatment for them.
After your baby is born, the marks should gradually fade into white-coloured scars and become less noticeable. They probably won't go away completely.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are very common in the general population and don't just affect pregnant women.
They can happen whenever the skin is stretched, for example when we're growing during puberty or when putting on or losing weight. Hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect your skin and make you more likely to get stretch marks.
They happen when the middle layer of skin (dermis) becomes stretched and broken in places.
Whether or not you get stretch marks depends on your skin type, as some people's skin is more elastic.
Pregnancy weight gain
You are more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain is more than average in pregnancy. Most women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22 and 28lb) in pregnancy, although weight gain varies a great deal from woman to woman.
How much weight you gain depends on your weight before you were pregnant.
It's important that you don't diet to lose weight when you're pregnant, but you should eat a healthy, balanced diet.
If you are worried about your weight, talk to your midwife or GP. They may give you advice if you weigh more than 100kg (about 15.5 stone) or less than 50kg (about eight stone).
Preventing stretch marks
Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they've appeared, but there is no reliable evidence that they work. There is also limited evidence about whether oils or creams help prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place.
A review of two studies looking at two specific creams marketed as preventing stretch marks found that massaging the skin may help to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy.
However, more research is needed into whether creams or massaging the skin can help to prevent stretch marks.
Read more about stretch marks, including possible treatments for them.
Read more about other common health problems in pregnancy.
if you can't speak to your GP and don't know what to do next.
Page last reviewed: 19/04/2016
Next review due: 19/04/2019