All doctors will tell you that there is no way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and that they’re hereditary. A good indication is if your mom got them during pregnancy or if you got them through other means throughout your life.
By way of genes, both my mom and sister didn’t get them, so I was safe there. But I have some major tiger stripes on my bum from my growth spurt back when I was 15 years old – so being prone to them was definitely a concern for me. In addition to being prone to them, my mom and sister’s husbands are less than 6 feet tall and all their kids averaged less than 6lbs at birth, while my husband is over 6’7″ and was born a sizeable 10 lb baby (eek!). I thought to myself, boy or girl, Akhil’s offspring will likely not be under 6 lbs, which means my belly will likely do more stretching than my mom’s or sister’s ever did! (In case you’re wondering, my baby girl was 7 lbs). So I was determined to do whatever I could to prevent stretch marks and am happy to say that this time around, I was spared…almost. At my 8 week check up with my OBGYN, what I thought were clogged milk ducts, she chuckled at my self diagnosis and pointed out that they were in fact faint stretch marks on my boobs (damn nursing boobs!). I also know of women whose mothers got stretch marks during pregnancy, but by remaining diligent in their prevention care, they were able to avoid them. So for those out there that believe that perhaps we can prevent stretch marks, keep reading to see how I prevented them.
Your skin’s elasticity starts from within. The better hydrated you are from the inside, the more your skin is hydrated on the outside. If you’re already not drinking the minimum recommended 8 glasses of a water a day, you should definitely get on it now if you want to prevent stretch marks. Sure, drinking lots of water while pregnant will keep you running to the washroom more often, but running equals cardio, right?!
Eating for two during pregnancy is a myth! If you do double your portions, you will only gain more weight than you need to. Slow, gradual weight gain is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. You are more likely to get stretch marks if your body expands rapidly (such as a major growth spurt over a summer). Although there is no right amount to gain during pregnancy, as it varies from woman to woman, based on their height, body type and the weight they were when they got pregnant, the recommended range as per experts is 19-35 lbs.
Using pregnancy as an excuse to eat for two is exactly that, an excuse and not necessary for the healthy development of your growing baby. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely indulged a bit more when I was pregnant (like weekly poutines). Normally, I’m always trying to lose those last pesky 5-10 lbs, but since I was pregnant, trying to lose weight was not a concern, so I wasn’t as rigid with my diet as I normally am. I gained about 20-25 lbs during my pregnancy, which was pretty much all baby weight. My logic here is that by limiting your weight gain, you are putting less strain on your skin’s ability to stretch, thus preventing stretch marks from happening.
Again, limiting your weight gain to recommended amounts during your pregnancy (see above) puts less stress on your skin’s elasticity threshold. Now, I understand that not all pregnancies are alike and some women retain way more water than others, making it difficult to control weight gain. However, I do recommend to try your best to stay active, whether it be going for walks or a full workout routine, with a goal to limit weight gain to baby weight only – which is a combination of baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood volume and bodily fluids and the extra weight of your uterus, breasts and fat and protein stores.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective pre natal workout routine, check out a previous post here.
Last but not least, it can’t hurt to try to keep the areas that are prone to stretch marks during pregnancy more moisturised than usual. I applied Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter all over my belly every morning. Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter is packed with rich Omegas to help elasticise, sooth and protect your skin. At night time, I was a bit more diligent by applying Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter first and then topping it off with Bio Oil. In addition to my belly, I applied Bio Oil on my boobs, lower back, hips, inner thighs and even my buttocks for good measure (in the hopes to fade those tiger stripes) at night time only.
I was very committed to this process and almost never skipped a day my entire pregnancy. I’ve heard some women say that they skipped a few days in their third trimester and that’s when they appeared. For best results, be consistent.
If I had to pick between both products, after scouring the internet, based on popular opinion and studies, I found that Bio Oil is more effective and luckily, much more reasonably priced. I picked up a value pack of two from Costco – comes with a large and small bottle. In lieu of Mama Mio’s Tummy Rub Butter, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, I’d recommend a potent cocoa butter such as Palmer’s Cocoa Butter.
If you did happen to get stretch marks during pregnancy, I recommend that you continue to apply Bio Oil on the areas affected to help reduce the appearance of them. My boobs didn’t grow much during my pregnancy, so I stopped using Bio Oil after giving birth; completely under estimating the amount they would grow once my milk comes in. As a result, postpartum, I was only using Mama Mio Pregnancy Boob Tube, a bust protection cream rich in vital Omegas to promote elasticity and naturally firm and antioxidants to strengthen the skin; which in combination is supposed to prevent your boobs from sagging once you’re done nursing (hey, it’s cheaper than a boob job/lift, so worth a shot no?). It is recommended that you use it throughout your pregnancy and up to 6 months postpartum. It also contains cabbage extract which helps sooth swollen nursing boobs. In hind sight, I wish I was using both Mama Mio Boob Tube, topped off with Bio Oil, but now that I know that those red marks on my breasts are in fact stretch marks, I plan to immediately start applying Bio Oil.
Whether you’re reading this because you are pregnant or thinking about having children some day, good luck. Regardless of the outcome, trust me, it’s worth every minute!