Stretch marks are probably one of the most common worries of mom’s-to-be. I was definitely one of those worrisome pregnant women. I think I bought about 6 different lotions that were dedicated to the cause when I was only 5 weeks pregnant. I did extensive research on the topic, and come to find out, there is no magic lotion that is a one- stop stretch mark stopper. While creams can play a big role in preventing stretch marks, they only penetrate the top and middle layers of skin. It’s important to also take preventative measures from the inside to help nourish the most inner layer of your skin.
I’m sure you have read about 49 articles on why water is so important for you before, during and after pregnancy. Well, here is one more! Water will help keep your skin hydrated which will allow for more elasticity when the time comes time to stretch. Plus, in the case that you do get a stretch mark or two, having a good water drinking habit can help minimize the long term scaring. Aim for at least 64 ounces a day.
While the most inner layer is important, keeping your skin hydrated on the outermost layers during pregnancy in also important. Anything that is touching your skin needs to be super moisturizing. I discovered this body wash while pregnant and still use it to this day. I also fell in love with using 100% pure fractionated coconut oil. I would add the body wash to a lufa during every shower/bath and really massage it in. Once I was done with my shower, I would rub coconut oil all over my body while I was still wet then I would pat dry with a towel. I went through 3 bottles of the coconut oil during my pregnancy and I still use it today!
foods with zinc, vitamin A, C and E
As far as preventative measures on the layers of skin that can’t be reached by creams, it comes down to eating the right foods. Zinc, Vitamin A, C and E are all nutrients that aid in elasticity and the protection and growth of new skin cells. A few favorites of pregnant moms include:
- Halo Oranges
- Avocado (Smear it on whole wheat toast for a great snack any time of day!)
- Peanut Butter with bananas
- Spinach and Kale (great base for an amazing salad)
A side benefit of all of this- this can also help with the elasticity in your skin during delivery and may help prevent tearing!
Healthy circulation and blood flow is an essential part of healthy skin. You can achieve this through light exercise or massaging the skin. When I was pregnant, I walked ALOT! It was almost an obsession. Walking is a great way to ease pregnancy pains and fight exhaustion. It also helps with gaining weight at a healthy rate too (more on the importance of that later)! Lace up the tennis shoes and make a lap or two around the block. It’s a great habit to build and you will probably want to keep it up once baby arrives!
Gain Weight at a healthy rate
What is a healthy rate? According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG), a woman of normal weight pre-pregnancy should gain a total of about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. While this may seem like alot at the beginning of your pregnancy, you will soon learn that it can happen easier than you think! It’s important to try to gain it slowly across the 40 weeks. The ACOG suggests that a woman of normal weight pre-pregnancy should aim to gain about 1 pound per week. This slow and steady gain will keep your skin from stretching too quickly and tearing. Read more on how to stick to a healthy weight gain here.
I followed all of these measures and still ended up with a few ittby bitty stretch marks on the side of my boob. I made it all 9 months without one and spotted them a few days after my milk came in! Not going to lie, I slightly freaked out. And by slightly freaked out, I mean I woke jay up at 6 A.M. by turning on all the lights in our bedroom and asking him to look and see if they were real. They were real, small, but real. Just a few spots that were about a few centimeters. More like stretch spots. I kept up healthy skin habits and was able to reduce the redness and minimize the long term scaring. If you do end up getting a stretch mark or two- consider them warrior mama marks! It’s a reminder of the amazing transformation your body went through to create your little one.