Article of the month June
The Low Down On Stretch marks, and What You Can Do To Prevent Them
I think we have all seen them, whether on our own bodies, or on someone else’s, those pesky little things, called stretch marks. The word strikes fear in many pregnant women’s minds, though some women look at them, and regard them as ‘battle scars’, and don’t get bothered by them, or some may, but can accept them, for what they are, but would not mind avoiding more, the next go round. For those who do, how can we prevent them, or at least help them from getting really bad? Is there anything we CAN do? I believe the answer is yes. Yes we can.
1st of all, what is a stretch mark really? A stretch mark forms in the skin, when the fibers have been stretched to their max, like during pregnancy, or a large weight gain, or sudden growth spurt, like during puberty. (that is the only time I ever got one, only a couple on my hips and I have faded them to silvery white and not really even visible. I could afford strivectin a few years back, so that is what I used on those. That stuff is pretty darn awesome, just pricey, but I digress).
Stretch marks are actually scars underneath the skin’s surface, that do not cause any pain, just look unflattering. They usually run vertically, but the couple on my hip I mentioned happen to go horizontally, so they obviously can form in either direction). They can be red or purple in color, and will fade to a silvery white color over time, that is barely noticeable to anyone but you, who obviously, knows yourself better then anyone else, but when your body loses weight, or shrinks down after pregnancy (or both depending on the cause of your stretch marks, they will be super thin, and even less visible. When you are stretched they obviously will look bigger, so don’t dismay if they look super large before you lose weight, or the baby, it won’t be as bad after either case.
What can you do, before they hit? Welp if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, here are some tips. I have never gotten a stretch marks from pregnancy, and I have had 5 children, 4 full term births, including one set of twins, just born in March 2010. Am I just lucky? I don’t believe so, I’d call myself lucky now, in retrospect, because it did seem hopeless with twins, after scouring the web for positive stories, but in all honesty, it wasn’t luck that kept them away, and if I were to go with the genetics theory, welp, it doesn’t add up for me, because my mom did indeed have stretch marks, and only 2 full term pregnancies, with low birth weights, and no sets of twins. (And no I was not adopted, haha), just trying to show that there IS hope, despite having stretch marks in your ‘genes’ per say, I mean, there could very well be a genetic factor, but it is not a definite, as can be seen in my case, so take a deep breath if you need to now:)
Ok, 1st thing first, is you want to make sure your body is always hydrated. When your body loses water, your skin loses water. When you skin loses water, it gets dried out, and can crack and break more easily, on the outside and within the innermost skin layers, where the stretch marks form. Think of your skin like a rubber band, it can only be pulled so far, before it snaps, and breaks, our skin works the same way, so you want to make sure, especially during pregnancy, that you drink a lot of water, every single day. I happen to despise water myself, so it was a bit challenging for me, but I take one of those taco bell, large plastic cups, much like the ones from 7-11, like a big gulp cup, and make sure I fill it up at least two, but most times, 3x’s a day, so I have definitely exceeded that 8 glasses of water a day, when I am pregnant, when I am not pregnant, I drink about 2 of those cups full, for healthy skin overall, because I used to drink zero water, and I notice a difference in my facial skin for sure, so water is just plain good for you, so even if you hate it, sip it while your mind is busy typing at your lap top, or while reading a book, it helps get your mind off the ‘yuck’ factor, for those who feel this way.
They also say that diet can impact your likelihood of getting stretch marks, but I haven’t seen that personally, as I will admit to being a junk food junkie sometimes, but I do like fruits and some vegetables. If you can’t stand your veggies, or you can’t get enough in, being that they are just good for you and your body in general, I highly recommend v8 fusion drink. I get the light, and it tastes delicious, has only 50 calories per glass, and I’m getting fruits and veggies, to boot. Getting in as many real veggies to while pregnant, can only help you, not harm you, and is good for the baby to boot, plus in case diet does have anything to do with stretchmarks, you will be helping yourself in more ways then one. Diet does have to do with weight gain, so I guess that alone is a connection.
Caffeine? There could be some link there to caffeine and the appearance of stretch marks, because caffeine dehydrates, and therefore makes skin more vulnerable to breaking, so try and avoid those caffinated soft drinks, and iced lattes, while you are pregnant. too much caffeine isn’t good for your babies anyway, so cut that out as much as possible, and it may just help you win the fight against stretch marks. I personally am not a coffee drinker, I do like a caramel iced latte from time to time (damn dunkin doughnuts ha ha), but I get it decaffeinated, and it isn’t often. A once in a blue moon treat. I do like tea, but I buy decaffeinated green tea, and in the last couple months of my pregnancy, drank red raspberry leaf tea, both are free of caffeine.
Save the caffeine for after those sleepless nights with your newborns, where you gotto get up for the day, but personally, I just don’t drink coffee at all, so I can say that is one thing that may be a slight factor in the stretch mark battle. **Little tidbit on the red raspberry leaf tea. I have used it in both my twin pregnancy and my last singleton before them, and my pushing phase was short, I had even my twins vaginally, and helped my uterus become effective, my labors were short, and recovery on both those pregnancies were extraordinary, perfect, and FAST. my two older ones were nightmares, so I highly recommend this tea, plus it is caffeine free as well. an added bonus, and tastes quite good. Pick some up at GNC or vitamin world. You can buy it online as well. use it only late in pregnancy though & postpartum**. Ok back to the topic at hand here…..
rapid weight gain. whenever you gain weight really fast, you are testing the limits of your skin’s strength. Elasticity can vary from person to person, but even the most elastic skin can break under such enormous strain, so what you want to do, is gain your weight as slowly / evenly, as you can. Granted, you can’t control everything while you are pregnant, and you must put on weight, that is obvious, especially in twin pregnancy, where you will have to gain even more, but if you are putting on the pounds too quickly, because the second box of ho ho’s you just bought yesterday, is sitting in the trash can empty, then you gotto start thinking more about your diet, and try and slow down the empty calories a bit. Put on more healthy calories, and your body will thank you for it. it is true, that your body will put on what it needs to, to maintain a healthy pregnancy, and feed your baby or babies, that is what you want, especially crucial during a twin pregnancy, it’s the extra unnecessary pounds that are the problem. This is NOT the time to diet or watch your weight and figure, but just x out some of the empty calories and you’ll be just fine, even with twins in tow.
Does a bigger weight gain ensure you will get stretch marks? no it doesn’t, because I have gained different amounts of weights with each pregnancy. The most with my 1st, nearly 60 lbs added to my tiny frame (wow), that was a lot. I really don’t know how or why for sure, but, I THINK I eventually found out the culprits after my second child, and another higher then normal weight gain for a singleton. I drank a lot of whole milk, had quite a bit of whole calorie ice cream and juices, and I believe they were to blame the first two times, plus not much exercise to speak of, especially in the 1st which was a winter pregnancy (still no excuse, but I’m sure some of you know what I mean, just wasn’t motivated). So I’m not saying weight gain is going to definitely put stretch marks on your body, but it can increase the risks of getting some is all, especially when it’s put on really quickly, but again don’t watch the scale and go crazy counting calories. there is a fine line here, you do NOT want to skip meals or diet during pregnancy at all, just make healthier choices, and it WILL make a difference.
Do potions and lotions really work? WELP again no direct evidence, but in all of my pregnancies, I lathered up myself with palmer’s cocoa butter, and this time I used the belly butter, and it really moisturizes the skin, and smells just amazing. I’m still using it now, it’s just so yummy, and heck if I could get through a twin pregnancy without any marks from it, then I’m gonna boast and promote palmer’s products, until my dying day. I used the belly butter as mentioned (LOVE IT), it’s inexpensive, and you can find it in any drug store, or even at walmart. Then later on when I started getting itchy, I combined my belly butter, with palmer’s spray pump, soothing oil. That feels so nice on the skin, and really helps with itching, and also moisturizes, so combining the two, I was pretty covered. I wanted to buy strivectin again, because it basically eliminated the couple stretch marks I had on my hips, however, it wasn’t in the budget this time, though I truly think it does help, and work, but if cash is low, and you can’t go there, grab the other two products I mentioned, and use them religiously, 2x’s a day, after a bath or shower, and before bedtime, and avoid soap. Those dry out the skin, I only used moisturizing body washes in the shower, and that is what I recommend.
Ok, I wrote this out, and I also wrote a list of things to do to try to help your chances, so this isn’t the complete list, check out my blog entry from today, for the rest of the preventative measures you can take to ward off ugly stretch marks as best as you can, and more great tips and info. Great to be able to help out in any way I can, I know I needed such hope and inspiration when I was pregnant, I just could not find it, so I hope I can help:)