6 Things I Did To Prevent Stretch Marks in All Three Pregnancy’s
Stretch marks, some mamas wear them with pride as their “badge of motherhood” while others choose not to talk about them at all. None the less, I get asked often if I have stretch marks from any of my three pregnancies and things I did to reduce them all together.
Talking about stretch marks during pregnancy is a sensitive subject. Even though they are well worth it, many moms still feel self conscious about their stretch marks.
I just gave birth to our third baby girl 12 weeks ago. I understand first hand the fears of how our bodies will change during pregnancy. After three babies in four years, my body and skin have definitely been through a lot.
I am here to tell you that your concern for getting stretch marks is not vein and it is a completely natural response to pregnancy. It is possible to still embrace the journey of pregnancy without loving every single side effect, such as stretch marks.
Every pregnancy is so different and there is just no way to predict how your body may change. As much as we want to avoid stretch marks, it is important to keep in mind that whether you get them or not is significantly determined by genetics. Just remember, they were created through the most amazing process your body will every go through!
Now that we have that covered, moving on.
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked during my pregnancies is,
“How can I prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?”
While everything we read and hear says that we cannot prevent stretch marks and they are largely due to genetics like I said before, I will say that there are a few ways to help prevent the quantity and severity of them.
Most think preventing stretch marks means loading up on the lotions. However, through both what I have learned and experienced in my own pregnancies, I believe the most effective way to minimize stretch marks is from the inside out.
This means maintaining a healthy weight gain, staying active and eating a well balanced diet.
What causes stretch marks?
As scary as it may seem, your body is growing!
When the body expands faster than the skin can stretch to keep up, the skin can “tear” resulting in scars known as stretch marks.
This is one of the main reasons why avoiding excess and rapid weight gain during pregnancy can help you avoid stretch marks.
The elasticity of your skin is also a big factor in your likelihood of developing stretch marks. You can thank your genetics for this.
If your mother, grandmother or any blood relative has stretch marks, then you will be more likely to get them.
With that said, the severity of stretch marks is largely genetic, but a good skincare routine and a healthy diet will make a big difference for anyone.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT STRETCH MARKS DURING PREGNANCY?
Even if you are at increased risk to stretch marks (thanks to genetics) you have some great options to help reduce the amount, severity and likelihood of how many you may get during pregnancy.
1. KEEP THE SKIN ELASTIC- COLLAGEN
One of the best ways to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy is from the inside out by keeping the skin elastic. This can be done through adding collagen peptides to your diet and staying hydrated.
Let’s talk Collagen first.
Collagen is a major component of your skin and plays a vital role in skin strength and elasticity.
It is also the building block of healthy joints, hair nails and skin and is responsible for giving our skin strength and elasticity.
The stronger the collagen and elastin fibers, the less likely they will break during rapid skin growth, such as during pregnancy, resulting in stretch marks.
Pure collagen powder is one of the best ways to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and also helps your body and skin to recover postpartum.
Supplementation of 2.5mg daily of a bioactive collagen peptide shows an increase in skin density and influences the dermal matrix synthesis, strengthening skin connective tissue. This supports the use of oral collagen supplementation, when approved by the client’s’ physician to potentially reduce the breakdown of fascial connection during pregnancy growth. (Schunkc, 2015)
I wish I had known more about this vital protein in my first pregnancy! I take it without fail, every single day, especially during pregnancy and during postpartum recovery to help my the connective tissue in my pelvis and abdomen heal.
2. Stay Hydrated
Your skin requires adequate hydration for optimal elasticity. Drinking enough water is essential for helping to strengthen and renew your skin.
During pregnancy, the body’s blood volume drastically increases which also increases the demand for proper hydration.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends aiming for approximately 2 liters a day during pregnancy.
Staying hydrated may help to keep your skin soft and soft skin is less likely to develop stretch marks than dry skin.
I’ll be honest, staying hydrated during pregnancy is tough for me because plain water is nauseating. Some things that helped me reach my water intake goals are adding all natural flavored carbonated soda waters or infuse my water with yummy, refreshing fruit.
3. Be Careful of Your Weight Gain
Stretch marks can happen when your skin quickly pulls apart due to rapid weight gain.
One of the best ways to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy is to avoid gaining too much weight, too quickly.
In my first pregnancy, I gained 15 pounds in the first 12 weeks. For the first time in my life, I was not cautious of what I was feeding my body.
During the first trimester, the baby is only about the size of a kidney bean. This means all the weight I was packing on was going to me, not the baby.
I noticed stretch marks quickly on my hips because I was gaining weight so quickly. This was a sign that I needed to be more carful about my weight gain.
Staying mindful of my weight gain had more to do with being healthy than preventing stretch marks. As a prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist, I can tell you that gaining too much weight during pregnancy is NOT healthy for mom and baby!
Staying active with exercise and eating a well rounded diet will help you minimize weight gain and have an overall healthier pregnancy!
Give into those cravings, just not everyday!
4. KEEP THE SKIN SUPPLE AND TREAT STRETCH MARKS AS THEY APPEAR
In addition to keeping your skin elastic through collagen and hydration, you should also keep you skin moist with a good oil and lotion.
I will hesitantly admit that I did not get any stretch marks on my stomach from any of my three pregnancies. However, I did get them on my hips and booty because this is the first place I tend to gain weight.
I use both twice a day.
The Almond Oil smells amazing and the combination of both feel so good and soothing. My belly would get itchy during growth spurts of the baby. It felt amazing to apply my lotions. It was also a great time to slow down and admire my growing bump!
5. CONSIDER DRY BRUSHING
It also helps improve blood circulation which may help prevent the formation of stretch marks and cellulite, rejuvenates the nervous system and even gives a little boost of energy.
Use a soft-bristled brush before you get in the shower and work in circular motions working from the points furthest from your heart and work up toward your chest.
Trust me, dry brushing just feels amazing! I do it as often as possible, pregnant or not. It helps my skin look less “dull”. Try it!
I quickly dry brush before getting in the shower and then apply my oil and lotions after.
Ah ha! I saved the best for last.
Well, I will actually say that exercise is not the best way to avoid stretch marks because from my experience, it is the combination of all things mentioned above.
However, exercise can help with numerous things during pregnancy, including stretch marks.
Aside from boosting energy, reducing mood swings, and helping improve sleep, exercise might actually help to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
Exercise helps to improve circulation which helps to keep the skin more elastic. Better skin elasticity helps it to stretch as your body changes during pregnancy therefore reducing the chances of getting stretch marks.
Overall, exercise can help reduce rapid and excess weight gain which can greatly reduce your chances of getting stretch marks.
I was less active during my first pregnancy and got more stretch marks. Coincidence? maybe! But I gained the most weight with my first pregnancy as well.
Embrace The Journey and Process
When starting your pregnancy skin care routine, please remember that stretch marks can be prevented to a degree but the likelihood of you getting some is determined mostly by genetics.
The most important thing is to have a healthy mama and healthy baby. I truly believe that pregnancy is the BEST time to start creating better eating habits and learning to nourish your body from the inside out! Remember, what you feed your body, you feed your baby. Feed them the best nutrition possible! Give into those cravings, just not everyday.
I can tell you from personal experience, any stretch marks you get during pregnancy won’t matter once your little bundle of joy is here! Just do your best to have a healthy pregnancy and you’ll reduce your chances of experiencing the side affects your worried about such as excess weight gain and stretch marks!
And ALWAYS consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet!
If this was helpful, don’t forget to add it to your Pinterest board to refer back to later!
And as always, I’m only one email away from helping you reach your goals or answer any questions. Never hesitate to reach out!
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.