Ladies, before I being this post, I don’t want anyone thinking I am gloating. The statistics show that 8 of 10 of us mothers will get stretch marks when pregnant. So to you women I say, wear your stripes with pride! They are your badge of honour and they are only lasting reminder you will have to remember those long hard 9 months you spent growing your baby!!
What are stretch marks and what causes them?
The official medical term used for pregnancy stretch marks is Striae Gravidarum, these tiny depressions on the skin’s surface occur when it stretches quickly as your baby bump beginnings to grow underneath. Showing up either pink or purple on white skin or lighter than the surrounding area if you have a darker skin tone, caused when the middle layer of skin (Dermis) tears allowing the deeper layers of skin to show through
They tend to be most noticeable when you are within the last trimester of your pregnancy and whilst they will never disappear completely they do tend to fade to a silvery white colour over time.
I was lucky
So as the statistics go, it seems I was one of just 2 out of the 10 to get away without any stretch marks from my pregnancy. Something I hadn’t expected but had certainly hoped for. So how did I avoid getting them?
This is where science gets a bit sketchy, perhaps it is just luck of the draw. However I am certain there were several things I did religiously when pregnant that I credit to having helped.
Water Water Everywhere
I drank a lot and I would classify myself as not a water drinker. However carried at 7 and half months through to term in an average daily heat of 30 degrees did mean I needed to rehydrate regularly and conscience of the baby I was building I made sure I got my 8 to 10 glasses each day.
Its been proven that water by keeping the body hydrated ensures the elasticity in your skin remains at its optimal and this is turn means your skin is more supple allowing it to grow and shrink without tearing, which is how stretch marks are made.
Buttered Up My Body
I opted for Almond body butter as opposed to more communally recommended Cocoa Butter and I used loads of it! I didn’t skimp on the amount or the cost. A friend of mine recommended Barral who swore by it for both her pregnancies and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.
This is a Portuguese product, which has been going since the 1800’s. It’s renowned for its effectiveness in the avoidance of pregnancy stretch marks and has even been used by royalty. It’s around 40€ for 200ml and I got through several pots. I would apply this religiously each night and to massage it deep into my skin. It helped with the absorption and just generally felt good, plus it allowed me to relax for the time needed to let this bad boy dry enough for me to put my pjs on.
Admittedly the stuff is very thick and gunky, so it’s not ideal if you are looking to get dressed and out the door within 5 minutes of applying it. However it made sure my skin remained, supple, moisturised and stopped the itching, which is also a key part for creating stretch markets, so don’t itch ladies!
Comfortable in My Own Skin
I was slim when I got pregnant but I wasn’t super skinny. What I mean is I was on the top end of ideal for my weight and height, and carried a little excess around my waist. However I feel this actually worked in my favour as instead of having a taunt toned tummy that would have been put under a lot of pressure when stretching to accommodate my growing bump, I had a little extra skin to pick up the slack, literally considering I was massive at the end.
Kept it Moving
I knew early into the pregnancy that my weight was gong to need to be managed and I made it my goal to stay physically active for as long as possible in my pregnancy. I walked 5km daily right up until the last month and even then I was still knocking out 3km in the heat.
It doesn’t actually have any direct effect on stretch marks themselves but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping up a regular workout routine will help you manage your weight gain and keep it at a steady pace
The Postpartum Deflate
Having made it full term without any signs of stretch marks appearing, I was quietly confident that I had made it out unscathed. Yet stretch marks aren’t only caused through the rapid expansion of your skin, they are caused through rapid weight loss as well. Therefore whilst you may not of gained any stripes on the journey into motherhood you are still at risk on your journey back to your pre baby body.
For this end, I have taken my time to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and am allowing myself a full year before I get there. There are no extreme diets, no hardcore works, just a sensible eating regime and a gradual increase in the effort I output until I am back to where I once was.
Not Quite Scott Free
Just so not to appear gloating, I would like to share with you all that, I did however get stretch marks on my breasts. Unfortunately this I feel was an unavoidable side effect of being a breast-feeding mother for the last 10 months. By breasts grew a whooping 2 cup sizes once my milk came in and even though things have settled down and I am sad to say feel rather more deflated now, the rapid expansion and the constant tugging has taking its toll. I have attempted to limit the damage as much as possible with the use of boppy pillows, slightly curving to meet the baby and cupping my breast to offer support whilst he suckles but alas I hadn’t made it out without a scratch, so rest assured, I am human not perfect and I still have a long way to go the get my pre baby body back.