Photo by Kate Parker
There are many different ways in which pregnancy can leave its mark on our bodies. Many report a difficulty in shifting those last few stubborn pounds of baby weight. For others it’s a difference in hip width. For some even their shoe size changes. However the most common complaint in women who have had babies is the emergence of stretch marks. Stretch marks are narrow streaks or lines that occur on the surface of the skin with the tummy, buttocks, breasts & thighs the areas most affected during pregnancy. While there are many prescription medications such as Retinoid or Tretinoin creams available to help, preventing pregnancy stretch marks the natural way is the method many moms use.
The real key is to take good care of yourself during pregnancy. The healthier you treat both your body and mind the less likely you are to incur these marks on your probably previously unblemished body. Apply something moisturising to your body liberally every day. Two times a day if you can. Rubbing olive oil or cocoa butter over your ever expanding tummy morning and night has been highly successful in stopping the onset of these unsightly marks and is recommended by moms the world over.
Stretch marks occur when skin loses its elasticity so exfoliating is a fantastic way of maintaining the elastic of the skin’s epidermis. Lightly exfoliate or use a body brush every time you have a bath or a shower and make your own homemade salt scrubs to use in the tub. Another great way to maintain the elasticity of the skin is through your diet. A diet high in protein and vitamins C and E are said to be a great way to increase collagen production and aid tissue repair and growth. Include lots of lean meat and eggs in your diet and there is lots of vitamin C to be found in foods such as oranges, broccoli and potatoes. You can get a vitamin E hit through a diet rich in things like kale, almonds and spinach.
While you should be eating the right foods, the key is not to overindulge during pregnancy as this can lead to too much weight gain, another common cause of stretch marks. As tempting as it can be to have cheese every single day or a dessert after every single meal, try not to go crazy. The idea that women are now ‘eating for two’ is a bit of a myth and doctors recommend that women don’t actually need to eat any extra calories until the third trimester and even then they only need an extra 200 a day.
Another fab way to keep your skin hydrated, which in turn will also maintain elasticity, is to drink plenty of water. Try and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Water helps keep the skin cells plump which is a great way of helping them recover from the stress of over stretching. If you find drinking this much water a chore then jazz it up a bit with slices of cucumber or a squeeze of fresh lime or try drinking caffeine free herbal teas instead.
Finally exercise can be a helpful way of preventing stretch marks during your pregnancy. Some light exercise can get the circulation going which is another brilliant way of keeping the skin nice and elastic. By exercising you are immediately breathing in more oxygen which in turn makes it easier for your skin to stretch thus preventing those nasty lines that we all want to avoid. Try to stick to low impact exercise during pregnancy like yoga and always consult your doctor before you embark on a proper work out plan.
Many of these recommendations are good for maintaining your healthy as well. Check out our post on great health during pregnancy as well!
I’m in my first trimester of my first pregnancy and am terrified of getting bad stretch marks. Everyone is telling me my body is going to be covered in them. Is it possible to prevent this from happening by using coco butter/stretch mark cream? Or will it happen regardless? Do you have any products to recommend?