Want to avoid stretch marks? Here’s the 1 thing you can try

Daily moisturizing will improve the suppleness of the skin, but has no scientific basis for treating stretch marks.

Want to avoid stretch marks? Here’s the 1 thing you can try

Stretch marks are beautiful signs of the baby who grows within you—but to be honest, they're something most women would prefer to avoid if possible. About 90% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks at some point in their pregnancies, so if you're one of them, be sure: You're so not alone, mama! We talked to dermatologist Dr. Rosy Chattha, MD, about where these little lines come from, and what (if anything) you can do about them.

Here's what Dr. Chattha says about stretch marks:

A photo posted by Cecilia (@ceciliaharvard) on

Stretch marks, also referred to as striae, will affect most women during pregnancy.

These small tears in the deeper layers of the skin occur when the skin expands to accommodate the remarkable growth of the baby over a relatively short period of time. The increased levels of hormones during pregnancy also play a role, and your genetics may determine how susceptible your susceptibility to the extent of the stretch marks.

The best way to minimize or possibly even prevent stretch marks is to follow your doctor's advice for steady and healthy weight gain.

Daily moisturizing will improve the suppleness of the skin, but apart from feeling good, it has no scientific basis for treating stretch marks. Stretch marks form in the deeper layers of the skin, far below the reach of surface creams and oils.

And be careful with what you slather on your body. Think about it—would you want something that you apply to the surface of your skin to get absorbed into your body, especially if you are pregnant? There is a reason that healthy skin is a barrier.

"Her stretch marks were lighting stripes of life, proving she could weather the storm."
A photo posted by Cecilia (@ceciliaharvard) on

After pregnancy and breastfeeding, more options are available.

Retinoid-containing creams improve the texture and appearance of stretch marks presumably by increasing collagen and elastin production.

Vascular lasers can reduce the reddish-purple appearance by targeting the new, abundant small blood vessels within the stretch marks.

Once stretch marks settle into less noticeable silvery lines, retinoid creams and vascular lasers are not as effective. At this stage, one option is treatment with a fractionated laser.

This is the only evidence-based treatment.

My bottom line: Don't spend money on expensive creams that claim to prevent or treat stretch marks. Instead, simply moisturize with what feels good and eat a sensible diet and exercise to keep weight gain in a healthy range.

Save your money for laser treatment after you're done nursing, if you're so inclined.

Remember, 90% of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Give yourself a break and try to see the lines as a small price for a beautiful purpose.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But, a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4 year old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year...

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keeping an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Following children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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