Stretch marks – The curse of pregnancy
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, there’s absolutely no question about that. You’re growing a new life in your body, ready to bring it into the world.
Your body and mind are completely changing to prepare for one of the biggest changes yet. Whilst some of these changes are very welcomed, others are, well, not so much.
Stretch marks are one these changes – could we not just have the magic of pregnancy without them?
The most important thing to know is that they’re completely normal, and shouldn’t cause you any extra stress. For many of us, pregnancy changes our body – and post pregnancy stretch marks can become the battle scars of such a glorious event.
My name is Sara. I am a fellow Mom of Two. My first daughter was an assisted delivery – she was not for budging! My second, a C Section baby. Two very different deliveries and with their own impact on my body.
You’re probably wondering now, are stress marks during pregnancy preventable? What is the best remedy for stretch marks? What is the best stretch mark removal cream?
We’re here to help.
What are stretch marks?
To begin, it’s quite important to touch on what exactly stretch marks are, this way you can fully understand what is happening to your body.
Stretch marks are just small scars located on the middle layer of your skin, that are visible on the top layer of your skin.
They form when you gain weight or when hormone changes stretch the skin, faster than its ability to repair itself. They’re quite literally just the signs that your body is growing – hence why people also form them during puberty or times of weight gain.
To be honest, stretch marks are an indication of how amazing your body is. Your skin can stretch and adapt, even in extreme circumstances (like pregnancy), and work overtime just to heal itself.
Stretch marks are also super common with pregnancy because of hormone changes. With the excess oestrogen and cortisol, your skin’s collagen and elastin reduce, limiting the stretchiness and making it less able to handle the growth. It’s just the perfect environment for stretch marks to form.
Now that we have all the technical jargon out of the way, let’s get down to preventing stretch marks during pregnancy.
Can stretch marks be prevented?
Prevention is key
We’ve all heard the saying “prevention is better than cure” and this is true with stretch marks. The best ways to stop stretch marks is way before they even start to appear.
Once you have stretch marks, although not impossible, they are difficult to eradicate. As soon as you know you’re pregnant, start practicing these prevention tactics.
Please note though – they are completely normal and it’s about learning to love the postpartum version of you!
Your diet is super important during pregnancy, for multiple reasons. Keeping your body full of the nutrients it needs will not only help you and the baby, it’ll promote faster cell rejuvenation.
Your diet should include:
- Three servings of protein a day, whether that’s through meat or vegetarian alternatives
- A source of calcium
- Whole grains
An abundance of fruit and vegetables, follow the five a day rule for both.
- Prenatal vitamins
It’s also recommended that you stay away from really sugary or sweet food. This has an extra benefit of helping to minimise nausea. Always talk to your doctor about nutritional advice, just to make sure.
2. Vitamin D
A study also found a link between the levels of vitamin D and the occurrence of stretch marks. Obviously, it’s early research but it’s quite telling. We’re excited to see if more information derives from it.
It’s also well worth a try – if healthy levels of vitamin D reduce my risk of stretch marks, then count me in.
The easiest way to get vitamin D is with the sun, you might as well use your pregnancy as an excuse to sunbathe, right?
If you live in a cave then look into which Pregnancy vitamins contain Vitamin D that could help with preventing stretch marks.
3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated throughout your pregnancy is super important. However, we’re talking about a different kind of hydration to drinking water (Which is also very important!).
Every time you moisturize, you’re hydrating your skin. You might already be doing this to your face and neck, now it’s time to treat your bump.
My favorite product to use is Body Merry Cocoa Butter. It’s specially formulated to reduce and prevent the appearance of scars and stretch marks but it’s made from completely natural ingredients. Phew.
Hydrating moisturizers, like this one, help your skin’s elasticity. Basically, allowing it to snap right back into place without stretch marks forming.
I couldn’t recommend the Body Merry Cocoa Butter enough; I really believe it is the best lotion for stretch marks.
That being said, if you’re looking for something different, please choose one that is proven to be safe for both you and the baby. It’ll always say on the label. If it doesn’t, put it down.
4. Specially formulated products
Don’t underestimate the power of the products specially formulated for stretch marks.
The most popular being Bio Oil, everybody’s heard of it. If you’re like me, you probably like to search for new products, but Bio Oil is kind of unbeatable.
It’s super safe to use whilst pregnant and has been used for over 20 years, it’s safe to say that it’s been tried and tested.
Bio Oil is really effective in helping to improve the appearance of stretch marks. It also contains ingredients that help with the elasticity of the skin – helping to prevent stretch marks too.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more natural or organic, Rosehip Oil is one of the best natural products for stretch marks (as well as scars and wrinkles).
It has been studied extensively and is completely safe to use during pregnancy. Again, as well as helping to fade away stretch marks, Rosehip Oil is also great for preventing them.
With all specially formulated products, make sure that you don’t have any allergies before using excessively. If you’re worried, your doctor will always be able to help.
We’ve talked about hydration and special products, but to really make the most out of these you should be making an effort to exfoliate your stretch-mark prone areas.
I would exfoliate my stomach, thighs, chest and hips once a week. Exfoliating removes all the dead skin cells, allowing all your products to penetrate the lower layers of skin much better.
Also, exfoliating helps your body to grow new skin cells, again helping to prevent stretch marks whilst pregnant.
As with everything, make sure that the products you use are safe for pregnancy. I personally stuck to very natural products like baking soda and witch hazel. Coffee scrubs are also a nice literally luxury to indulge in.
Another little tip which you can incorporate easily into your routine; massage. When you’re applying your creams or oils, take a bit extra time to really massage the products into your skin.
Massaging has loads of benefits, these include:
- Upkeeping the skin’s elasticity
- Pushes products deeper into the skin
- Directs blood to the skin to promote healing
- Breaks up any stretch marks that may have already begin to form
A massage a day will relax you and help with your stretch marks. What could be better?
This was the go to method for stretch mark prevention for me – bio oil or cocoa butter massages – i would spend an age just admiring my bump!
When stretch mark prevention doesn’t have the effects that you want
Perhaps you didn’t try any prevention methods, or they just didn’t work and you’ve ended up with stretch marks that just aren’t welcome. Don’t worry, it’s not always impossible to get rid of existing stretch marks.
Here are just a couple ways to try and achieve this.
7. Targeted treatments for stretch marks
Targeted treatments, specifically created to heal stretch marks after pregnancy could be your best choice. They don’t require a lot of time (which you won’t have a lot of anyway with a new born), they’re not super expensive and they’re easy to apply at home.
I would still lean towards natural, organic products because it’s always the safest option.
Remember, Bio Oil and Rosehip Oil both help to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
These types of treatments can work over time. So, don’t give up instantly.
8. Invasive treatments
I say this as a very last resort. Stubborn stretch marks, that may be really affecting your confidence and well-being, could be treated with invasive treatment. Laser treatment for stretch marks is used quite often, as is microdermabrasion.
Stretch mark removal cost can be quite high, they can be painful and time-consuming. I can’t stress enough how this should be seen as a last resort. Make sure you thoroughly research into these treatments before diving into them and speak to medical professionals.
The greatest fix is the belief that stretch marks are not important
When i look at my post pregnancy body I always look back at this Dr Seuss quote:
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
– Dr Seuss
It’s easy to get sucked into the world of stretch mark cream, laser for stretch marks and other remedies. The most important thing to remember is that it isn’t the be all and end all.
If your pregnant now then my top advice would be to use Bio Oil or Cocoa Butter, plenty of massaging and admiring that bump.
If you are postpartum and want to get rid of stretch marks – hydrate the skin using natural products or specialist oils such as Bio oil, but please find a way of loving the changes in yourself.
What you now have – a gorgeous baby, a new addition to the family and a healthy body is so much more important than some very natural, normal side effects of pregnancy.
I know, they can knock your confidence but really, we should wear them with pride. They’re marks of extreme strength and a symbol of the miracle of birth.
I hope this helped and gave you a few ideas on how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Let me know if you have any stretch mark solutions that you swear by.