How to Treat Pregnancy Stretch Marks with Simple Steps & Safe Products

Only a few expecting mamas can skate through pregnancy without developing a stretch mark. American Family Physician reports that stretch marks form on over 90 percent of mamas during their pregnancies, and some research on how and why these lines form suggests genetics may play a part in their formation. 

So, what we’re pretty much saying is, stretch marks are unavoidable while your baby bump grows; if you’re going to get them, you’re going to get them! And you can take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your struggles with these marks, most other mamas are right there with you. 

Even better news, stretch marks are completely harmless. Sure, they may be accompanied by dry skin and some unpleasant itchiness and burning, but they very rarely cause concern. With that, there’s really no reason to obsess over completely getting rid of them, especially if they aren’t noticeable or don’t bother you. (Some mamas take pride in flaunting their stripes!) 

What’s more important is buying the right, pregnancy-safe products to keep your baby bump moisturized while maintaining healthy skin. Not to mention, setting realistic expectations with yourself for managing these lines. If you get carried away with a dozen creams and oils, you’ll drive yourself crazy — there is no miracle cream or a special blend of butter to magically reverse lines overnight.  

Although you might not be able to entirely get rid of stretch marks while you’re pregnant, there are ways to hold off their development and manage some of the uncomfortable side effects that come with them. An easy way to start is by taking a couple of minutes for yourself every single day to thoroughly moisturize your belly.  

A photo of a pregnant woman with stretch marks

But don’t worry, we’ve put together everything you need to know about preventing stretch marks from forming and managing their appearance in this handy guide. 

In our guide of how to treat pregnancy stretch marks, we cover: 

Let’s dive in! 


#1: Start Hydrating Early

Glow 9 Energize + Natural Body Lotion: Organic Lemon, Orange  and White Grapefruit Essential Oils

If you don’t already moisturize every day, incorporate it into your beauty routine — it’s good practice to keep your skin hydrated with a daily moisturizer whether you’re pregnant or not. Every day, morning or night, set aside a couple of minutes to moisturize from head to toe. Karyn from our customer service team recommends working in a daily lotion routine as soon as you find out you’re pregnant because it’s good for your skin and growing belly.   

You don’t need to lather your entire body up with a rich moisturizing butter or cream; these can be inconvenient to put on and feel heavy on your skin. A lightweight lotion works to moisturize the skin in a couple of seconds without weighing you down. We love the Energize Body Lotion from our Glow Organics line because it’s made with clean ingredients and its energizing essential oils serve as an all-natural wake-me-up.    

If you’re really concerned about stretch marks forming, you can also try using a preventive cream or oil while you moisturize. These are best used in the first trimester and during early pregnancy, but can be used prenatal to postpartum to promote better hydration and (somewhat) avoid stretch marks. We’ve tried and recommend Promise’s Bump Oil for Pregnancy Stretch Mark Defense & Skin Lightening since it has a blend of ultra-nourishing oils and it smells super good.  


#2: Test Belly Butters and Stretch Mark Creams

Pure + Organic Belly Butter: Organic Shea Cocoa Butter

While you’ll want to use a traditional moisturizer to fight dry, itchy skin all over, you’ll also want to double-up with thicker, more advanced stretch mark creams to target trouble spots. Stretch mark creams and belly butter are formulated with more nourishing ingredients than regular ‘ol lotion, so they can more deeply penetrate the skin’s barrier to reverse these lines and help skin appear more hydrated. Some anti-stretch mark solutions even include special ingredients, like plant peptides, to fight skin discoloration and improve skin texture, which is something regular lotions can’t do. 

There are countless stretch mark remedies available, but take caution when browsing the selection, as not all of them are safe to use during pregnancy. Out of the many options, we suggest 1970 Skincare Love Lines Stretch Mark Scar Balm, Glow Organics Pure Belly Butter, Mambino Organics Oh Baby! Anti-Stretch Body Oil because they’re affordable, contain safe ingredients, and really work. 

Why all three? This introduces you to a cream, butter, and oil, and gives you a couple of different solutions. You can try all three individually, test combos of two, or choose a favorite.    


#3: Try Belly Massages

A photo of the BumpLife wooden massager

Belly massages, especially when combined with belly butter, also work to fight against the formation of stretch marks. Plus, they’re relaxing and enjoyable! While belly massages might not provide instantaneous results, they’re thought to help reverse stretch marks by promoting circulation. Improved circulation means better skin cell and tissue growth and less chance of damage, so massaging stretch marks helps kickstart collagen and elastin production to fill in those lines. 

You can use your hands, our bestseller BumpLife wooden massager, a dry brush, or even an exfoliating glove for a safe, effective belly massage, but some mamas prefer applying their stretch mark cream with the rougher dry brush or exfoliating glove because it makes the skin feel that much smoother. Plus, it further stimulates the epidermis to really boost collagen production. 

While massaging out stretch marks, stick to small, circular movements to prevent accidentally pulling on the skin. Always make sure to follow up your massage with lots of water, too. Even though you’re not leaving a full-body massage session, it’s still good to flush out toxins after the fact.  


#4: Stay Active and Stretch Daily

A photo of two women doing yoga

It may be a no brainer, but you can enhance your skin’s texture and appearance by simply taking steps to improve your overall health. In addition to drinking enough water and eating healthy, try to squeeze in 15 to 30 minutes a day for exercise, even if it’s just gentle stretching before bedtime. 

Light stretches and exercise maintain skin elasticity and muscle tone, so it’s no surprise lines form when you begin skipping workouts and putting on pregnancy pounds. Even though pregnancy can be exhausting, it’s still necessary to get regular exercise — yoga, swimming, and walking during pregnancy preserve muscle tone and keep skin taut.   

Of course, you should always consult with your doctor when putting together a healthy exercise routine, and be careful to not overdo it during your workouts.  


#5: Limit Sun Exposure and Follow a Healthy Diet

A photo of a plate full of raspberries, blueberries, and pineapple.

UV rays and environmental factors, like the pollutants in our air, wear on your skin and hurt collagen production. This leads to a number of skin and health problems aside from stretch marks. So, limiting sun exposure and following a healthy diet are two great ways to prevent stretch marks and avoid more serious skin conditions, as this stops UV damage and rebuilds skin from within. 

A tan may work to mask stretch marks and other imperfections, like pregnancy acne, and you may feel inclined to bask in the sun when you have a moment, but you’re better off improving skin health at the root by wearing an SPF outside and avoiding peak sunny hours. You can reinforce your SPF with foods rich in antioxidants, like berries, dark chocolate, and pecans, since these help combat free radicals in our environment and encourage better skin health. And obviously, drink lots of water. 


#6: Manage Stress and Don’t Obsess Over These Lines

A photo of a doctor typing on her laptop with a stethoscope on the table

Last but not least, find outlets to manage your stress and do your best not to focus on stretch marks. At the end of your pregnancy, these marks won’t matter anyway. Even if they don’t go away during pregnancy or immediately thereafter, they’re not completely permanent and will eventually fade. 

Instead of worrying about getting rid of stretch marks while preparing to have your baby, spend your energy on pampering yourself and taking time to celebrate and enjoy your pregnancy. 

And, if you find it difficult not to worry about the appearance of stretch marks during your pregnancy, you may feel relief in knowing there are numerous cosmetic solutions out there to zap these lines after you give birth and your body is adjusting to its new normal. You can always talk with a trusted dermatologist about more in-depth stretch mark removal treatments, such as laser therapy, if your marks don’t go away later down the line.   


Belly Cream vs. Butter vs. Oil: What’s Most Effective on Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?

When shopping the best stretch mark removal creams and comparing your options, you’ll find products labeled as belly butter, belly oil, and belly creams; and despite the fact that they all sound pretty similar, all three options are different. 

Belly oils are typically lightweight and greasy, as you might expect from a blend of oils. On the other hand, belly creams and belly butters are thicker and have a creamy formula. These are typically made with shea butter, cocoa butter, and aloe vera, and depending on how oily the formula, potentially avocado and almond oil, too. You can distinguish between belly butters and creams by gauging how the formula feels — butter is more oily and absorbent, cream not so much.

Usually, moms feel inclined to choose between belly cream, butter, or oil, since the difference in products seems to suggest one is better than the other. But instead, we recommend trying all three, since it’s usually a combination of two that does the trick for most moms. (The best combo is different for everybody!) 

Your personal preferences will obviously play a major role while choosing between stretch mark remedies — some people prefer a greasier lotion while others like something thicker, and certain moms can’t do scents — but don’t forget to think about the state of your skin while shopping moisturizers, too. Oils and oil-based formulas are great for mamas with dry or cracked skin, while creams work well with most skin types.  


Other FAQs About Pregnancy Stretch Marks 


What are stretch marks, anyway? 

Stretch marks, also called striae distensae (or striae gravidarum when referring to pregnancy stretch marks), form when our skin stretches and expands. More specifically, these lines appear when collagen and elastin fibers in our skin snap and leave bluish or reddish lines, resembling scars, across the skin’s surface. 

Stretch marks usually form after sudden weight changes, including pregnancy, growth spurts, and while breastfeeding. 


How long do pregnancy stretch marks take to fade?

It’s really hard to say how long pregnancy stretch marks take to fade because this is highly personal from mom-to-mom. Remember, some expecting mamas don’t experience stretch marks at all, and others see smoother skin after a short time. However, most commonly, these lines start to fade and disappear six months to a year after giving birth. 


Do pregnancy stretch marks ever go away?

Yes! Don’t give up hope, pregnancy stretch marks do eventually go away. They may take some time to completely fade, and some moms may even find themselves investing in expensive options to get rid of these lines quicker, but we suggest giving lines at least a year to fade before considering more advanced treatment options. 

The best way to reverse the appearance of these lines after giving birth is to lead a healthy lifestyle and religiously moisturize — more involved tactics probably won’t be super effective or useful. 


Will pregnancy stretch marks go away if I lose weight?

They might! But they also might not. This depends on the person. Stretch marks are caused by rapid weight gain, but they can also be caused by a sudden weight loss, so losing a bunch of weight could do you more harm than good (at least, in terms of managing your stretch marks). 

Instead of fixating on weight loss, we advise sticking to a regular workout routine and improving diet choices. Focus on building the right habits, and everything else, including smoother skin, will fall into play. 


Can home remedies like coconut oil or honey remove stretch marks?

No, nothing can really “remove” stretch marks, so to speak; but, coconut oil and honey can both hydrate the skin, and keep skin moisturized to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. So, no, coconut oil doesn’t remove stretch marks and neither does honey, but mixing these all-natural, moisturizing ingredients in with a body lotion or belly butter probably won’t hurt anything. 


Does Vaseline remove pregnancy stretch marks?

Like olive oil and honey, Vaseline cannot remove stretch marks, but it can be used to moisturize the belly and target dry skin and other trouble areas. However, we always advise talking with your OB/GYN, or a trusted medical professional, before trying any products you’re on the fence about using. 


Manage Stretch Marks and Other Pregnancy Symptoms, And Treat Yourself Every Month with Bump Boxes

Our simple steps above make managing pregnancy stretch marks easy. But, if you want to set yourself up to make navigating every pregnancy pain point easy, then you’ll want to opt for our Bump Boxes subscription, instead. 

Our pregnancy subscription boxes were specifically designed by parents for parents, to make shopping safe products for pregnancy easier. And after starting Bump Boxes, we even launched our own all-natural, clean skincare line — Glow Organics — to guarantee we’re sending our mamas the absolute safest pamper products every month. 

Not to mention, we customize our Bump Boxes pregnancy gift kits for each individual mama and her due date; that way, you receive a variety of products curated just for you and what you’re currently experiencing in your pregnancy. 

Whether you’re having trouble shaking morning sickness or struggling with back pains, our personalized pregnancy pamper kits can help you cope with your unique discomforts to feel your best through the ups and downs of pregnancy.    

Best of all? Our Bump Boxes ship directly to your doorstep for free every month, so you’ll never have to go far for your pregnancy goodies. Between three different subscription options (6-month, 9-month, and 12-month) you can get started in the best program for your current stage of pregnancy and start receiving the best pregnancy products from us every month!