best prevention of stretch marks during pregnancy

The Best Stretch Mark Prevention During Pregnancy

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It’s so exciting when your belly starts to expand and you begin to actually show during your pregnancy, instead of just pretending in the mirror. But with all that expanding comes belly itching and sometimes even the dreaded stretch marks.

In fact, it’s thought that between 50% (but closer to) 90% of women will get stretch marks during pregnancy.

Of course, stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, many mothers see it as a badge of honor and celebrate their right of passage into motherhood.

But, not all mothers feel so lovingly toward this notion. In this case, what’s a new mom to do in her efforts to enjoy her new belly better?

Here we’ll go over all of the best stretch mark prevention tips for pregnant mamas. But first, let’s start with the basics.

 

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are “stringy like” lines that form in areas of your body where your skin has been stretched quicker than it can replenish itself.

They can come in a variety of colors, including pink, purple and red. Although after a while they tend to fade to a “silvery” color or your own skin color.

 

What Causes Stretch Marks

As the name implies, stretch marks are caused from your skin stretching a little too much. This can be from gaining or losing weight too rapidly or from being pregnant.

It can also be caused by too much cortisol in your system. According to Healthline,

Cortisone is a hormone naturally produced by your adrenal glands. However, having too much of this hormone can make your skin lose its elasticity.

Which means corticosteroid pills and creams can also cause you to have stretch marks.

 

Who’s Most at Risk for Stretch Marks

Alright, every newly pregnant mama has wondered, Am I going to get stretch marks? There’s no way to tell for sure or not. But there are certain people who are more at risk than others.

Such as:

  • Being a woman
  • Having paler skin
  • Family with stretch marks (runs in the genes sometimes)
  • Being pregnant (Especially multiples)
  • Being overweight
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Those taking corticosteroid drugs and creams

 

How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?

First, let’s manage a few expectations. Sometimes, stretch marks in pregnancy are not preventable.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the hand some women are dealt. I know from experience. I blame genetics. All the women in my family have tons of baby marks to prove that they were, in fact, pregnant at some point.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. There are quite a few ways to minimize and help prevent stretch marks that do work for lots of pregnant women.

Here are things that every expecting mama should be doing while pregnant, to protect their skin from stetch marks.

I will admit, even after understanding that products may or may not work to prevent stretch marks, you can sure bet that I’ll be rubbing in my favorite cream each night before I jump in bed. Juuust in case it’ll help do something!

preventing stretchmarks while pregnant infographic

1. Eating Right to Prevent Stretch Marks

Aside from changing your genetics, this is the number one thing you can do to save your belly skin in pregnancy.

After all, the body is like a machine. If you give it the right fuel, it works right. (usually…)

Think of your stretch marks like scars. As your skin stretches it needs certain nutrients to quickly replace and rebuild more skin cells to accommodate for that stretching.

You also want nutrients that will help your skin build up collagen, which will make it nice and elastic. Extra stretchy skin means less stretch marks!

Nutrients that are essential for skin repair and stretch marks are:

Vitamin E: Great for skin health and acts as an antioxidant. Found in vegetable oils, nuts and nut oils, and avocados.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for the production of collagen, which makes skin stretchier. It’s also essential for skin and wound repair. Get plenty of vitamin C by eating lots of citrus, kale, kiwis, chili peppers and rose hips.

I love rosehip and hibiscus tea! It makes a delicious, bright red tea. Add a bit of honey, lemon and ice, and you have a super healthy, vitamin C packed “cool-aid.” And it’s pregnancy safe.

Zinc: Another nutrient great for skin health and the immune system. Foods high in zinc are meats, legumes, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate!

Protein: Is an essential building block in your body, including for skin. Make sure to get lots of protein in your daily diet not only to help prevent stretch marks but also for the health of your baby.

Omega 3s: Omega 3’s are a MUST HAVE in my pregnancy book. Not only do they help your baby’s brain development, but they are great for mom’s mental health as well. You can read more about the science behind maternal mental health and Omega-3’s here. They are also great for skin health and elasticity.

I’ve been taking these DHA supplements since I was pregnant with baby number 1. They are made with fish that have less mercury in them than others, making it safer for pregnancy.

You can also get Omega 3’s in walnuts, cod liver oil, small fish, and chia seeds.

 

2. Limit Weight Gain

You don’t want to gain too much weight during pregnancy. I know from first-hand experience the problems that come with gaining too much too fast.

Now, I’m not saying starve you and your baby. On the contrary.

You want to eat plenty of nourishing foods during this vital time of life.  But, eating plenty of fresh fruits, veggies and unprocessed meats is very different than reaching for that 3rd twinkie. (And yes, they do taste better when you’re pregnant.)

I may or may not had an obsession with jalapeno poppers and ice cream during my pregnancy and ended up gaining a whopping 80lbs. Don’t do this.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy could mean an increased risk of diastasis recti and stretch marks.

And depending on your prebaby weight, aim for a nice weight gain of 25-35 pounds. Your muscles and skin (and back!) will thank you.

 

3. Drink lots of water

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Drinking plenty of water will help you feel better and keep that beautiful pregnancy glow. It could also help prevent you from getting stretch marks as your pregnant belly grows.

When your skin is hydrated, its stretches easier.

 

4. Avoid Scratching

Another thing that happens as your belly grows, your skin starts to itch. Resist the urge to scratch though.

The scratching will damage the delicate skin. Instead, whenever your skin starts to itch think of it as a reminder to do 2 things.

  1. Go drink a great big glass of water
  2. And then, go apply a soothing belly cream. (We’ll tell you our favorites below)

If you absolutely must scratch the itch, gently pat the area instead. Don’t use your nails.

5. Work out

Working out is just generally good for you during pregnancy. It keeps your body limber, including your skin. It also increases the blood flow in your body.

This helps nutrients get to the surface of your body to nourish and repair your skin.

 

6. Call in the stretch marks creams

Finally, having a good stretch mark cream on your side can help prevent those pesky marks.

So find a product you love, and use it as directed. Along with the healthy living tips mentioned above of course. No cream will prevent stretch marks by itself.

 

The Best Creams and Oils to Prevent Pregnancy Stretch Marks

When looking for an awesome product to prevent stretch marks, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Is the cream pregnancy safe?
  • Which ones actually prevent stretch marks?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How long will it last?

After all, there are some very expensive creams on the market with lots of promises. Many of which come with a very small amount of actual product. Meaning you shell out a few hundred bucks, and it lasts a few weeks.

Not ideal in long pregnancy.

Here we’ll go over the best creams that actually work to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

*One thing I’d like to note, there are A LOT of stretch mark creams marketed for pregnant women. However, after reseraching the ingredients in many of these “pregnancy safe” creams and oils, many are questionable. There are quite a few creams that we do not recommend, based on certain ingredients. Those will be listed at the bottom.

 

Earth Mama’s Belly Butter

Earth Mama’s belly butter is one of Amazons top rated stretch mark creams for pregnant women. It’s a favorite for a variety of reasons.

This belly cream is pregnancy safe and good for your skin. It uses shea butter to help hydrate your skin and organic herbs and essential oils to help encourage your skins natural elasticity.

A couple of the things moms like best was the pump for quick and easy application, and the light scent. Very few moms complained about the smell. Which is a big deal with the pregnancy super nose.

It also has an EWG score of 1, meaning the ingredients are non-toxic and safe for you and baby. (*This scoring system is important to us, because we’d never want to promote a product that could harm you or your baby without you knowing about it!)

Some moms did complain it was a bit greasy.

reviews

  • Easy to use
  • Light scent
  • EGW score of 1

  • A tad greasy
  • Some moms still got stretch marks

Burts Bee Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil

 This pregnancy belly oil is another top rated product on Amazon. Moms love how silky smooth their skin feels after using the oil.

It contains almond oil, lemon oil and vitamin E oil. All work together to help nourish and protect your expanding skin.

Most mom’s found the scent pleasant, and lemon oil is used to quell nausea in morning sickness, so this makes sense.

A big complaint, this particular oil was described as “too oily” but a few moms. Its a very thin liquid and can spill easily. And yes, it does stain clothes if you are not careful.

Its got an EWG score of 1. (As low as you can get!)

reviews

  • Left skin soft and supple
  • Light lemon scent
  • EGW score of 1

  • Very oily
  • Can stain your clothes
  • Some moms still got stretch marks

Mustela Stretch Mark Prevention Cream with Natural Avocado Peptides

Another great option for preventing stretch marks during your pregnancy. The Mustela Stretch mark prevention cream comes in two variations. A scented and a non-scented. After some digging on the EWG site, it seems that the fragranced version is given a rating of 4, while the fragrance-free version is given a 1.

So we recommend going with the fragrance-free one. (Again, it’s not that the fragranced one is hazardous, its just the term “fragrance” can be used to describe so many different chemicals, it’s hard to know how safe it is without the company telling us what that term means in this product.)

This particular cream is fast absorbing, and hypoallergenic. Making it better for moms with sensitive skin.

It’s also Paraben, Phthalate, Phenoxyethanol, and SLS free.

reviews

  • Fast absorbing
  • Non greasy
  • EWG rating of 1

  • Fragranced version has EWG score of 4
  • Some moms still got stretch marks

Glow Organics Belly Butter

Another top rated stretch mark cream is Glow Organics Belly Butter. This cream is made from only natural and organic ingredients. Making it super safe for mom and baby. This product is a newer one, and hasn’t been put into the EWG database.

But, it’s ingredients are mostly natural moisturizers and include

  • Organic Shea Butter
  • Organic Cocoa Butter
  • Organic Macadamia Nut
  • Organic Grapeseed Oi
  • Organic Sweet Almond Oil

It’s also fragrance-free, a plus in our eyes. The biggest complaint is that it takes a while to absorb into the skin. So you’ll have to wait a few minutes before getting dressed.

reviews

  • All organic ingredients
  • Fragrance free
  • Cruelty free

  • Takes time to absorb into skin
  • Some moms still got stretch marks

Belli Elasticity Belly Oil 

Another fan favorite, the Belli Elasticity Belly Oil. This is another great stetch mark oil made from ingredients we can get on board with!

It contains:

  • Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil)
  • Vitis Vinifera (Grape Seed Oil)
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender Oil),
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate)
  • Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Butter)
  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Seed Oil)
  • Centella Asiatica Extract (Gotu Kola Extract)

It’s also gluten-free and cruelty-free. Many of the moms that have used it rave about the how their belly skin feels soft and smooth after a few weeks use. Many moms also loved it’s light, pleasant scent.

reviews

  • All natural ingredients
  • Light, pleasnt scent
  • Gluten-free and Crulety-free

  • Takes time to absorb into skin
  • Some moms still got stretch marks

Our Top Pick

In our opinion, the best pregnancy stretch mark product is the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil. Mostly because I just prefer oil as a moisturizer. It’s easy to apply, 100% natural and save and I love the light lemon scent.

Honestly, any of the products above a great bet, and come down to personal preference.

 

Stretch Mark Creams to Avoid During Pregnancy

And now, as promised, a few pregnancy stretch mark products that didn’t make the cut for our favorites list.

  • Bio Oil: This is a highly rated stretch mark oil, however it contains retinyl palmitate, which should be avoided during pregnancy. (Too much can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.) Not worth the risk.
  • Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks: Another beloved stretch mark cream, but unfortunately has quite a few questionable ingredients, and scores an overall 4 on the EWG scale. With so many highly rated products scoring a 1, it just doesn’t seem worth taking the risk.

 

Conclusion

The best way to prevent stretch marks, is diet and exercise. Having as healthy of a pregnancy as possible is your best bet. Although, i’d definitely add in an oil or cream to my daily pregnancy to do list!

How to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

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