Before I delve into the world of stretch mark prevention and reduction, there’s a couple of things I want to share with you. Firstly, you are certainly not alone. Be it from puberty, hormone changes, pregnancy or rapid weight loss, most women will get stretch marks at some point in their lives.
Secondly, they’re not harmful to you or your baby (insert sigh of relief here). Your little one is most likely to make their mark on your tummy, hips and breasts as these areas grow the most, though they can also show up on your thighs, bottom and upper arms.
Last but not least, stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of. While I may be about to give you the tools to tackle them and many women prefer to hide them, it’s only fair that you get to show them off if you wish. Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and, for some, stretch marks are a proud sign of that. With that said, here are your top tips for those wishing to reduce the effects on their skin.
While no stretch mark cream is guaranteed to be the miracle cure of your dreams, some have certainly taken a step in the right direction. It’s all about keeping your skin moisturised. When your body changes rapidly, as during pregnancy, the tissue under your skin is pulled tight and tears. Moisturising daily can help to improve the elasticity of your skin so it stretches more easily, plus it reduces the dryness and itchiness often felt.
When scouring the shelves for cream, look for ingredients like shea butter, natural oils and vitamins which help keep skin supple and enhance its usual repair process. Indulge me as you indulge your skin by considering our own brand of stretch mark cream, aptly named ‘it’s your body’. Formulated with you in mind and subtly scented, it absorbs easily to leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
I’d hate to be biased so let me also suggest that you consider bepanthen stretch mark cream. One of its active ingredients is Centella Asiatica extract, a natural remedy that helps to strengthen skin by stimulating the production of collagen and fibre. Both creams are perfect for daily use from the start of your pregnancy.
massage and oils
Another way to keep your skin feeling soft and supple is through the use of massage and oils. What better excuse to ask for regular TLC from someone who cares for you! Massaging your skin every day can help to boost circulation and encourage new skin to grow. Plus it’s thoroughly relaxing, don’t you agree? Before covering large areas of your body, test a small part of your skin to ensure you don’t have a reaction.
Bio-Oil has been safely used by pregnant women for over 20 years and keeps skin hydrated when used regularly, helping to prevent the formation of stretchmarks and alleviate itchiness. Coconut oil is just as nourishing and soothing to your skin. The added vitamin E increases absorption and it smells great too!
Castor oil is considered one of the best healing treatments for skin related issues, so naturally it has been suggested to help reduce stretch marks too. It locks in moisture to hydrate your skin while also containing antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easily available.
hydration and healthy diet
While we all have a soft spot for certain treats, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy by eating a variety of fruit, veg, grains, legumes and good fats. Remember that eating for two is only an old wives’ tale and putting weight on slowly will help to prevent stretch marks from rapid weight gain.
Unfortunately some of us are more susceptible to stretch marks and you can blame your genetics for that. If your mum got them then chances are that you will too! However, keeping hydrated can reduce the effects of your growing belly. It helps to cleanse your body and ensures your skin stays supple so it can cope with the stress of stretching. Try chomping on cucumbers, watermelon or strawberries to increase your water intake.
Though putting your feet up is important, low intensity exercise is recommended during pregnancy. Taking part in activities like walking, aqua aerobics and yoga helps to regulate and increase circulation in the body. Doing so also increases oxygen inhalation which in turn increases the skin’s capacity to stretch as it grows.
By avoiding any exercises which put a strain on your back or stomach and enjoying low intensity activities, you can rest assured that your little bundle is in no danger. You’ll also be more able to control your weight gain and adapt to your changing body, reducing the likelihood of stretch marks appearing.
diy in the kitchen
No I’m not talking about putting up that shelf, though don’t let your bump stop you if you’re careful and handy with a hammer. Instead, rummage in your cupboards for these everyday products which could help to reduce the effects of stretch marks without popping out to the shops.
The combination of coffee grounds or sugar with olive oil is not just the basis for an interesting cake. It provides both exfoliation and moisture while improving blood circulation when massaged into specific areas three times a week. To reduce the redness of stretch marks, try using lemon juice. It contains natural fruit acid which can lighten the skin and make the marks less visible.
patience and a little confidence
Even after your efforts, you may find you have stretch marks all the same. I hope that you don’t feel dejected and remember that you’re in good company. If you can find the confidence to proudly show off your scars then go for it! But if you’d rather wait it out, there are treatments that your dermatologist can offer you after baby is born. Give your body a chance to recover as it is amazing how it can bounce back. Cheesy as the saying may be, time heals all wounds so allow your scars to fade and maybe you’ll come to love them.