I always get the question- Did you get any stretch marks?
Wait for it.......No, I didn't, honestly!
Next question, Did your mom get them? Okay, she is going to kill me for this, but yes she did. I know that many of you have heard that stretch marks are hereditary and I believe some of that to be true, however, we all gain weight differently and take care of our bodies differently. That said, I think that you can prevent them! Not only by watching what you eat, but using products that are free from petroleum, harsh surfactants and the list goes on... So, what are stretch marks?
Stretch marks, or striae graviae, are scars that appear on skin, which has been over-stretched. Stretch marks occur in the dermis, or middle layer of the skin. This elastic layer is fortified with fibers known as collagen and elastin that allow the skin to stretch and snap back into shape. When this layer is continuously stretched over a long period of time, the elasticity can break down. In areas where these breakdowns occur, the skin tries to reinforce itself by increasing the amount of collagen. The result is the scars we call stretch marks. They usually emerge as purple or reddish marks that fade to shallow gray or white scars, although some people report that their stretch marks begin gray or white and change to purplish-red.
Does pregnancy really change a woman's skin care needs (it changes everything else, right)? Yes, in most cases it does. The shift in hormones means that many women find that their normal skin care regimen no longer works well because their skin becomes oilier, drier or more sensitive while pregnant. In addition, the tremendous abdominal growth you experience during pregnancy (and, to a lesser extent, breast, and hip enlargement, too) causes itching and often leads to stretch marks. Many women do develop stretch marks during pregnancy, and pregnancy is one of the leading causes of stretch marks. There are ways to help decrease your chances by following the right pregnancy skin care regimen.
Are stretch marks preventable or curable? The Million Dollar question!!! Various theories exist on this subject, suggesting there is room for debate. Some health professionals believe that stretch marks are genetic; however, these same professionals say that you can be proactive and that using the proper moisturizer and gently massaging vulnerable areas can relieve itching, nourish the skin, and help prevent and fade existing stretch marks.
Some additional tips to prevent stretch marks:
1) Keep yourself hydrated during your pregnancy.
By drinking a lot of fluids, you are also hydrating your skin. Your skin will, therefore, be more elastic and will not be largely affected by the extreme stretching and shrinking of your skin. Remember: Keeping your body hydrated on the inside is just as good as on the outside!
2) Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is key.
A steady (not rapid) weight gain will increase your chances of not having stretch marks. I must admit I did gain a little bit more weight than recommended...I had always watched my weight before pregnancy and once I was pregnant- you guessed it! An instant excuse to eat everything! I truly believe that a large amount of my weight gain was due to the fact that 4 months into my pregnancy I became a High-Risk pregnancy. That ended all physical activity but fortunately, I lost most of the weight after the baby and delivered a healthy boy.
3)Stretch marks may also be avoided by being meticulous when it comes to the food that you eat.
Avoid salty, processed & fried foods. What you should binge on are those that are rich in zinc and vitamins E and C.
4) Omega 3 foods can provide your baby with the energy and materials necessary to good physical and mental growth. Omegas are also important for your own health and well-being during pregnancy. Plus they also will help nourish and hydrate you from the inside too!
5) Engaging in pre-natal exercises regularly will also help in the stretch mark prevention.
Exercise will definitely tone your skin and give it more elasticity, making it more resistant to the impact of changes in weight. However, it is important that you consult your doctor first before engaging in any form of exercise.
6) Avoid hot baths and showers. This can cause your skin to dry out which will lead to dry itchy skin. Scratching in a NO, NO!!! Scratching can actually tear the dermis, top layer of the skin, and this can lead to stretch marks no matter what amount of weight you gain or how much water you drink
7) Use products that are free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, harsh surfactants, artificial colors, and petroleum derivatives.
Petroleum is what Vaseline is made out of and if you have ever used Vaseline you know that it just sits on top of your skin. This doesn’t do your stretching body any good if noting can get into the skin and nourish and hydrate it.
Did you know that if patients at a hospital are on oxygen they cannot use petroleum products, like Vaseline? You know why? Because it is FLAMMABLE. Really, and expectant moms everywhere are putting all over their bodies & babies. Many other products like body washes and soaps use fragrances and surfactants in them and this really can lead to dry skin.
IMO: you only need to soap up your belly if something spilled on you or it is visibly dirty- otherwise let your natural oils (if you have any left) take action!