With around 90% of women developing stretch marks during pregnancy, it may seem like no-one is at a higher risk of developing them. The extent of the stretch marks can vary widely, however, depending on certain risk factors:
• Hereditary factors: if members of your family have them, you are more likely to get them, too;
• Age: perhaps surprisingly, younger women are at a higher risk of developing stretch marks;
• Size: if the expectant mother is overweight or obese, she will be more likely to end up with stretch marks. A large baby will also put much more pressure on the skin of the abdomen.
Most stretch marks develop during the final trimester, simply because this is the time when the baby grows very quickly. They tend to be linear marks that can range in colour from a pale pink not too dissimilar from the surrounding skin to deep purple marks.
Obviously, they can affect the skin on the stomach, but they can also appear on the breasts, the buttocks, the thighs and even the arms.
There is little consensus on the effectiveness of preventative treatments as people tend to respond differently, although it is thought that keeping the skin well-moisturised can help, as can the massage used to apply the treatment.