Figures vary depending on the source, but reportedly between half and 75 percent of all women who become pregnant can expect to develop stretch marks.
As a woman’s body changes to accommodate her growing fetus, her skin naturally has to stretch. As this happens, connective tissue in the skin breaks down. Picture the way a balloon changes as you blow it up; skin reacts in somewhat the same way. It becomes thinner and streaks that may vary in color from pink and reddish brown to purple or dark brown appear on the surface.
Not all women experience this change during their pregnancy. A woman’s genetic makeup could influence whether or not she gets stretch marks. Chances are if her mother or sister had them, then she will too. If a woman is carrying a large baby or multiples, inevitably her belly will expand more to accommodate the size and number of fetuses.
Women who gain weight rapidly or have an excess amount of amniotic fluid are also more likely to develop stretch marks. These factors are beyond one’s control, but she need not worry too much. There is a way to minimize and maybe even prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place. As a massage therapist, you hold the answer in your hands.
From the moment your client informs you of her pregnancy, you should give her belly added attention to reduce the incidence of stretch marks. So how does massage help? As you massage your pregnant client, her circulation is enhanced, sending blood coursing through her body and promoting new tissue growth. This gentle stimulation on a regular basis can keep skin supple and strong, and in most cases, relatively blemish-free.
The creams, oils or lotions you use when massaging mom-to-be will have an impact on her chances of developing stretch marks as well. Moisturizing and hydrating are your key goals. Many products on the market claim to address stretch marks, but those that contain cocoa butter or shea butter have extra-rich properties that can maximize nourishment for the skin.
In addition to giving hands-on massage, you could offer to dry brush your client. Be sure to use a natural fiber brush or a glove made of natural jute to gently scrub away dead skin cells and stimulate new cell growth. This therapy is best used on a client’s belly, arms and legs, but should not be used on her breasts. If you apply some deep moisturizing cream after this treatment, the skin will soak up the product, remaining hydrated and healthy.
Your expert massage can only do so much for your client and her stretch marks. Offering some additional suggestions may enhance the benefits you’ve given a client once she leaves your office. Advise her to drink plenty of water, eat a nutritionally balanced diet and engage in a reasonable amount of exercise.
Embarrassing and unsightly stretch marks do not need to be an inevitable side effect of pregnancy. Reminding your client of the benefits of massage therapy for reduction of stretch marks may help make her feel better about her body during and after pregnancy.