Let's Get Serious About Stretch Marks

Let’s set the record straight: topical applications rarely prevent or fix stretch marks. No matter how expensive the cream is, no matter what the ingredients are, genetics are what determine whether you will have stretch marks or not.

In the interest of transparency and authenticity, we believe that it’s important to make this distinction.

Some women will have beautiful big round baby bellies with nary a stretch in sight while others with itty bitty bumps might be covered in stripes. It is the genetic lottery, so to speak, that determines how well your skin fares during pregnancy. Much of the weight gained in pregnancy is extra fluid (water) in the body which is needed for things like the baby’s circulation, development of the placenta and amniotic fluid, however, these all contribute to weight gain, which may lead to stretch marks in some cases.

You can do a few things to support your skin which could potentially minimize the development of stretch marks, and here, we’ll take you through a couple of options.

Drink Plenty of Water

Your skin needs to be well hydrated for optimal skin elasticity. As your belly grows and your skin grows with it, you’ll want to ensure that you keep your largest organ (that’s right, your skin!) supple by downing at least 2 litres of water daily. Supplement this (and prevent beverage boredom) with organic herbal teas that also help support you during various stages in pregnancy.

Don’t spend all your time guzzling liquids though, there are foods that you can eat to help maintain collagen and elastin fibres in the skin. Collagen and elastin are necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut, and less likely to break and leave resulting stretch marks.

Eat foods that are rich in Vitamin E and C, Zinc, and Silica, which help to form collagen. Vitamin C, in particular is an important antioxidant that helps protect tissue from damage. These foods include red pepper, orange juice, kiwi, grapefruit, broccoli and Brussel sprouts (vitamin C). Vitamin E is mainly found in oils, nuts and seeds with small amounts present in spinach, broccoli, kiwi and tomato. Good natural sources of zinc are, beef shanks, crab, chicken leg and lobster. Cucumber is an excellent source of silica.

Use A Good Quality Cream or Butter

Look for one made with natural non-synthetic ingredients like Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Virgin Coconut Oil. Using a topically-applied product like Radiant Belly Butter which is specifically formulated to maximize the skin’s elasticity twice daily from the first trimester throughout pregnancy, will help your skin’s elasticity and stretchability.

In fact, Matraea customer Amy left the following review on the product page for Radiant Belly Butter:

“The best body butter I’ve ever used! With both my pregnancies I’ve only used this product and my skin has stayed soft and supple- probably the reason I barely got any stretch marks!!!”

Manage Your Weight Gain So That It Happens Gradually

Weight gain and stretch marks are very closely related. When pregnant women gain weight, the skin is overstretched and collagen in the skin is changed. The result will be deep reddish purple or light shiny white lines. To reduce the probability of stretch marks aim for slow, gradual, and most importantly, healthy weight gain. Focus on high quality, nutrient dense foods and don’t shy away from exercise.  Exercise helps maintain our metabolism and process our carbohydrates. 

Don’t gain too much weight

While technically you’re eating for two, your unborn baby doesn’t need any extra meals. Roughly 300 calories more a day should do it and those calories shouldn’t really come from sugar laden ice creams (sorry to be the bearer of crappy news) but from additional fruits and veggies, lean cuts of meat or whole wheat products.

The amount of weight a woman should gain in pregnancy depends on her starting weight. Generally agreed upon parameters for weight gain are for normal-weight women to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, underweight women to gain 28 to 40 pounds, overweight women to gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese woman to gain 11 to 20 pounds.

To recap:

While eating healthy food, getting plenty of hydration and exercise are strongly recommended – they may not be enough to prevent Mama Stripes.

If that’s the case, we suggest that you wear those stripes like a badge of honour! After all, not everyone can do what you just did and rather than looking at something you can’t control and feeling upset about it, why not shift your perspective and see your body for what it really is? A beautiful, complex grouping of cells that is capable of the most incredible magic…

Long Live the Mama Stripe!

 

Sarah Cosman

Cosman & Webb Townships Organic, Bury, Quebec, Canada