I wanted to start off saying what you’ve probably heard a thousand times before: Many (if not most) women will get stretch marks no matter what they do to prevent them. I, myself, wound up with some on my thighs and breasts. If you end up getting them, try not to stress about it too much. Nobody’s skin is flawless, and stretch marks don’t make you any less beautiful. Each mark on your body tells a story, and what better story is there than the fact that you grew life inside your body? That being said, I believe it is possible to at least reduce the amount of stretch marks you will potentially get. And it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of money or fancy creams. This is the routine I used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, in order of importance:
1. Limit weight gain. I really believe this is the number one thing you can do to prevent stretch marks. The less your skin has to expand, the less opportunity for stretch marks. Yes, you will gain weight during pregnancy. A woman of average weight should gain 25-35lbs for a healthy pregnancy. But this is not 25-35lbs of fat; only 5-9lbs should come from fat. Pregnancy is the most important time in your life to watch what you eat, for more reasons than stretch marks. You are growing a human. Do you want to grow it with ice cream and french fries or protein and fresh fruits? Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever the hell you want. It’s not good for you or your baby. I don’t mean to sound harsh; I’m just trying to keep it real. You only need to add around 300 calories to your meal plan every day when you’re pregnant. If you need tips for keeping your weight within the recommended guidelines, check out my other posts on fitness during pregnancy.
2. Perform Abdominal Exercises. This should be done before and during pregnancy if possible. The tighter and stronger your abdominal muscles are, the less your stomach will stretch outward. Having strong abs also prevents abdominal separation, improves posture, and conditions you for labor and delivery. Here is a video with a complete Ab routine that you can perform during pregnancy:
3. Hydrate. Staying hydrated by drinking water and eating fruits and veggies will help improve the elasticity of your skin. Drinking extra water won’t give you any extra protection, though. You will only eliminate extra water in your urine. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and one extra glass for every 30 minutes of physical activity. Try to space your water intake out throughout the day.
4. Don’t Scratch. As your skin grows and stretches, it might start to itch like mad. No matter what you do- DON’T SCRATCH IT. Scratching will irritate your skin, and could make your problem worse. Whenever I started to itch, I would just rub some lotion on my skin and try to think about something else.
5. Moisturize. I don’t think any sort of lotion or cream alone can do much to prevent stretch marks. From what I understand, stretch marks form in the lower layers of the skin where lotions can’t penetrate. Still, I always moisturized my skin because better safe than sorry, right? Plus, moisturizing your skin just makes it look instantly better anyway. The moisturizer I liked to use was Bio Oil, which was the most money I was willing to spend on a skin care product (around $15 for a 4oz bottle on Amazon). I would put it on my breasts, belly, hips, and thighs. Sometimes I would run out and wouldn’t feel like buying a new one right away, or would be waiting for it to arrive in the mail. When this happened, I would make my own concoction my mother told me about. I would break open some capsules of Vitamin E and Vitamin A and mix them with some olive oil or coconut oil.
Do/did you have an anti-stretch mark routine? What tips do you have for others?