The truth is, sometimes (and commonly), women get stretch marks when their bodies grow a child. This shouldn’t be news. Once the marks appear, they’re permanent. You might be able to fade them to a point, but they aren’t going anywhere.
Thanks to many women proudly boasting their “Tiger Stripes”, there’s no shame in getting stretch marks; as there shouldn’t be- it’s a beautiful thing to grow a child. I love that we, as women, can stand together and reassure each other that our bodies are still beautiful, despite the changes that can FEEL like flaws.
That being said, I have yet to meet a woman (though I’m sure they exist), that HOPES to get stretch marks.
So, we do everything we can think of to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
I made it through my first pregnancy with exactly one stretch mark; a tiny lightening strike between my belly button and the hole where my belly ring used to be. (Yeah- that hole is extra cute now. NOT. Haha! But hey, no regrets).
I intend on doing all the same things I did during my last pregnancy to prevent the little buggers this time around, and thought I’d share what worked for me, with you!
- Genetics – at the end of the day, you can do everything in your power to prevent, but some bodies are just more mark-able than others. It doesn’t mean you can’t try to prevent them, but you don’t know until you know. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
- Hydrate – this is probably the most important piece of advice you could ever follow before, during, and after pregnancy. And no, Diet Coke doesn’t count. Drink WATER. And lots of it. Infuse it, eat water-rich fruits such as watermelon, do whatever you gotta do if you get sick of the plain stuff. A hydrated body means hydrated skin, and hydrated skin means elasticity. Elasticity= the ability to stretch, then return to its original form.
- Food– Speaking of fruit, eating foods that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats ALSO promotes healthy skin and elasticity. Be sure to include foods such as berries, bananas, spinach, kale, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, oatmeal and legumes in your diet. Bonus: It’s not just good for your skin, it’s good for baby!
- Exfoliate– Exfoliating your skin helps to get rid of dead skin cells, and encourages your skin’s new cells to regenerate new, youthful, elastic skin. I like to use a loofah during my shower, making sure to exfoliate my baby bump and hips (because the skin pulls from all directions as it stretches) thoroughly. You can also use an exfoliating body wash- just make sure all of the ingredients are safe during pregnancy.
- Moisturize– Last but not least, the PRODUCTS. Most women that emerge on the other side of pregnancy without stretch marks will swear by “this” cream or “that” oil. There is NO miracle cream. All of the other factors I mentioned, including genetics, play a huge role. That being said, moisturizing is incredibly important. After exfoliating in the shower, I like to use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter* lotion all over. The sooner you apply, the more moisture you’ll lock in! In addition to post-shower moisturizing, I recommend Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, which was a recommendation I received from my sister-in-law. I use it on my belly and hips before bed each night, and as needed when itchiness (stretching!!-try not to scratch!!) occurs. I went through roughly 3 tubs (one per trimester) during my last pregnancy.
*Note: Cocoa butter lotion can be controversial as cocoa contains caffeine, which could potentially be absorbed into the placenta. If you are not comfortable using cocoa butter, I would recommend any lotion that contains vitamin E as an active ingredient instead.
Good luck, mama!!