I wanted to start this post by sharing a picture of the stretch marks which I gained during my pregnancies. Society has ever changing opinions of women with stretch marks. We are told to embrace our ‘tiger stripes’ by many, with celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, who bravely shared her stretch mark selfies online, inspiring others to do the same.
If there is one thing that is as closely linked to pregnancy as tea is to biscuits, it is stretch marks. Ask any pregnant woman what their number one fear for their post-pregnancy body is, and a good percentage will say ‘stretch marks’.
So, here is the science bit..Stretch marks often appear in the later stages of pregnancy, and affect around 8 out of 10 women according to NHS studies. During pregnancy, hormones are produced that soften the ligaments in your pelvis, so you are more flexible when giving birth. Ligaments are strong bans of tissue that connect joints. However, the hormones also soften the fibres present in your skin, often causing stretch marks.
Studies show that there are varying factors affecting why one person will get stretch marks and others show none, including age, race & family genetics. Of the many reasons for stretch marks appearing, the most common include, rapid weight gain, growth spurts and hormonal changes. Pregnancy will encompass most of these in some form or another.
In short, there is no way of predicting if you will get stretch marks, or to what extent.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I was only 24. I was active and healthy and made sure that I took care of my health and wellbeing. This alone, however, would not shield me from the effects of pregnancy. I will share below some of the steps I took to help limit the impact and repair my skin post-pregnancy.
Having at least 2 litres of water a day is recommended as a part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. This is even more of a necessity during pregnancy, when your growing baby is demanding more of your body. Ensuring that you stay hydrated will keep your body performing and its best.
I cannot use any word other than ‘obsessive’ when explaining my moisturising routine. To this day I moisturise my whole body at least twice daily. Whilst pregnant I took a bottle of Palmers Cocoa Butter and Burt’s Bees Mama Baby Oil with me to work, and I would apply it to my hips, waist, stomach area and upper thighs in the bathroom during my lunch break. Yes, people thought I was a little odd, but I am sure it has helped me.
Exercise & Good Nutrition
Staying active and ensuring that you are eating a healthily will help your body cope with the demands of pregnancy. The notion of ‘eating for two’ has been dispelled by health professionals (much to my disappointment). Eating a balanced diet, supplying your body with the nutrients it needs will help mama and baby.
Steps I Took Post-Baby
After my two pregnancies I had a few patches of stretch marks. These were mainly around the top of my thighs and around my hips. These are naturally the areas where I carry more weight.
As soon as I was able to move freely I was back to my old routine of cocoa butter and Burt’s Bees Mama Baby Oil. I exfoliated daily with Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub (I absolutely adore all things Clarins) and drank as much water as a marathon runner (minus the exercise part). Over time the red stretch marks faded and now are pale white marks.
I stumbled upon a miracle lotion (self-titled) in the early part of 2016. Red Fox body lotion comes in at the princely sum of… wait for it.. £2.99! It has had rave reviews online and all of my family use it. My skin never feels dry and is smooth and even all year round. I have seen a great improvement in the appearance of my stretch marks. I simply had to share this with you all as it has helped me so much and it is affordable!
I always remind myself on the days where I feel low about my post-pregnancy body, of the marvellous miracle that I have performed. Bringing life into the world is a gift. When I look into the eyes of my children, their very existence renders everything else irrelevant.