For the record, I'm no dermatologist. Nutrition-specific education aside, the extent of my 'medical' education consists of freshman and sophomore level biology and chemistry classes as mandated by my liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota. There's my disclosure! Therefore, I have more experience in this realm than formal education. Does it count if I have a number of doctors and nurses in my family?! No?Oh.
Some sources say it's genetics; if your mom got them, you likely will too, especially if you got them in puberty. For many women, especially us Type A ladies who pride ourselves (probably a bit too much) on a great figure, leaving something this important up to genetics simply isn't enough. I'm with ya, ladies!
I conducted some rather thorough research to round out the genetics claim. Here are the other biggest contributors to the "stretch mark factor" and what I'm doing about them:
- Proper weight gain: this one makes extreme sense. If you pack on too many pregnancy pounds, or they all come on at once (say, in your third trimester), that's a lot of stress for your skin to handle. Eating sensibly, not overindulging any unhealthy cravings you may develop, and keeping a consistent workout schedule are all going to help pregnant mama's be successful in this area.
Up until 30 weeks I was doing everything I had been doing prior to getting pregnant in terms of my workouts. After my preterm labor debacle, I now do four yoga and/or barre classes per week. I also try to be as sensible as possible with what I consume. Luckily, I'm a health nut anyway, and love my veggies, but when I do indulge (I mean, heck, I'm pregnant!), I keep the portion small and stick to ONE portion. Remember, you're feeding your baby everything that goes in your mouth. Don't feed him or her garbage!
- Exfoliate: exfoliation helps to more quickly turn your skin cells over. New skin cells contain more collagen, and also have a higher H2O content. If you're consistently turning over new cells on your tummy, backside and thighs, you're keeping your skin in the "best shape possible" for stretching. I use a natural bristle brush with moisturizing body wash and lightly apply it to my skin in circular motions at the end of EVERY SHOWER. It only takes an extra minute or two!
|Natural-bristle brush and my body wash of choice|
- Hydrate: think great skin starts with the right topical product? WRONG! It starts with what you put IN your body (this goes for your hair too). Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day. I learned the hard way (remember the preterm labor thingy? Yup, dehydration). I now have a water bottle with measurements on it to ensure I'm getting at least 64oz of water a day.
- Hydrate again: externally this time! No, lotions and cremes wont save you, despite the best marketing efforts of these companies. Yes, they do feel great! I've found Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter to be fantastic in moisturizing my skin, relieving that itchiness you get as your skin stretches, and helps at night when you feel like your skin is too tight for how big your belly is. I rub this stuff in after a shower and usually again at night, and put it on my tummy, hips, thighs and butt. Plus, it doesn't have an obnoxious perfumed odor, so you won't walk around smelling like a fake flower all the time. Yessssss!
|My favorite "belly cream"|
Do you or did you have any other tricks or preventative measures you swore by while pregnant? Feel free to comment below or send me an email - I'm always looking for fun new things to try, especially in stretch mark prevention!