Monday, August 27, 2012

The fight against stretch marks in pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a time to focus on your health and well being first and foremost. In my case, my mommy instinct has definitely kicked in, and my absolute main priority is to make sure my baby is safe and protected. With that being said, I would be lying if I said I didn't care about getting stretch marks and gaining excessive weight, but I'm certainly not going to obsess over it since my baby comes first. Honestly, I believe heredity has a lot to do with how you're body changes in pregnancy, so for some women, it won't be as easy to avoid the unpleasant scars and the water retention or weight gain.

The main things you want to remember when doing your best to avoid stretch marks is to make sure you're eating enough of your veggies/fruits and taking care of your diet the best you can, taking care of not gaining excessive weight or gaining weight too quickly, hydrating yourself with your water, applying topical remedies to enhance hydration of the areas you worry about and continuing your care regimen after delivery until you're body finishes healing.

It isn't always easy to make sure you're eating everything your supposed to be eating in pregnancy according to the food charts, especially in early pregnancy. I had bad nausea but it made me love fruits and veggies which was great. I couldn't even look at red meat or pork so I had to stick to chicken and eggs. Very salty foods grossed me out pretty bad and my love for sweets vanished for a few months so it made it easy for me to become healthier with my food choices. They say that stocking up on your fruits and veggies helps maintain great elasticity in your skin so it will help it stretch easier without damage, and eating a healthy diet overall not only helps your little baby grow healthy and strong, but helps you to avoid gaining less of those pounds that are pretty much useless to the pregnancy and keeps our skin healthy.

It's ideal to try and gain the weight we need to gain in pregnancy slowly and gradually so that the skin stretches little by little giving it time to adjust. Every women experiences things differently in pregnancy and so what was true for me may not be true for you, but basically how I've gone about my regimen is that I eat when I'm hungry. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was hungry all the time but had many food aversions and luckily I craved vegetables, fruits and didn't care much for sweets. I did get sick the first 4 months so i found myself eating small portions about 5 times a day, and the food I was eating was light and healthy since everything else grossed me out, but about once a week I would eat something greasy to add some fat to my diet since I found my body craving it from time to time. I didn't gain any weight the first 4 months. My diet had improved since I was making an effort to eat more healthy, I was eating many small portions continuously throughout the day (mainly because of my nausea) and I was getting sick so it wasn't likely that I was going to put on pounds, but the good thing was that I didn't lose any weight either. I'm about 5'7" and I weighed 128 lbs before getting pregnant which was a healthy weight for my height. Once I reached 16 weeks of pregnancy, I wasn't getting sick anymore and slowly started to put on weight. My doctor told me that I've been averaging 2 lbs a month and so far I've gained about 15 lbs and I'm at week 28 (starting 7th month). When I stop and look at how much I eat now, I eat a bit more than how much I used to eat. I don't overdo it with sugar, but I do enjoy my deserts and rarely restrict myself. I still eat junk food once a week so I don't deprive myself too much (pregnancy has made me love fries more then I did before...), but I also always try to take the healthier route when choosing the rest of my meals. All in all, your doctor will probably let you know if you're gaining more weight required, and you don't only want to avoid excessive weight weight for stretch marks, but more importantly to avoid any health issues that can arise from it.

This one's a biggy. It's important to drink plenty of water to hydrate ourselves inside and out not only for skin elasticity, but very importantly for a healthy pregnancy, so use that as your motivation as it helps flush out any toxins and since we produce so much more blood circulation, its important to keep our blood fluid so it flows well. At least 8 glasses of water a day is best but if your like me and water has never been the most amazing drink of choice for you, try pouring a glass of water with a splash of juice or check out this post I wrote a while back here on how to enjoy water more.

It can't hurt to add more hydration to the areas that we worry might develop stretch marks such as the breasts, inner outer thighs and belly. For me, this one is a personal choice, but I really wanted to focus on applying a cream or substance that was natural instead of using creams that have a list of ingredients on the label that don't sound natural at all. Traces of those ingredients can find their way to our baby since we tend to use these creams a couple of times a day every day for months on end and its cumulative. For those of you who choose to use store bought products, do what you're comfortable with just try to educate yourself on the ingredients before hand so you can avoid any chemicals or ingredients that should be avoided (unfortunately we put too much trust in companies, believing that they would only sell us products that are super safe and clear of harmful crappy ingredients, and sadly we can't always depend on them to prioritize the consumers health over their profits...) so just do yourself and your baby a favor and read up on reviews and the ingredients of the products you're interested in before buying and using them, you have nothing to lose.

I had started making my own homemade body butters before I got pregnant so I knew a lot about natural ingredients and how they that can help hydrate the skin against stretch marks, I even made some for my friends that were expecting and was excited to make a batch for myself when the day would come that I would become pregnant, however, what I had not anticipated was the horrible nausea that came over me the first 4 months of my pregnancy, so needless to say, I didn't produce or use any of my homemade butters, or anything for that matter since everything was extremely nauseating to me, natural ingredients and perfumey ones alike. To give you an idea of how weird my nausea was, after I would apply some makeup to go to work in the morning, the loose powder would make me so grossed out I would get sick immediately afterwards...Luckily many women will not have this problem, but I did. So what I'm trying to say is that for me, I didn't use a damn thing the first 4 months even though I really wanted to, I was just too sensitive to it.

Once the 4th month kicked in, my nausea subsided and I did notice a tiny bit of the beginning of a baby belly so I knew I had to start using preventative measures as the stretching was going to gradually kick in. Apparently its preferable to start using a topical moisturizer as early as the first or early second trimester for better results but I personally wanted to avoid any needless products the first 3 months, and my belly wasn't growing so I didn't feel too pressured yet, I only started in the second trimester.

Since I couldn't make my butters because I was still bothered by the process of making it, I started using Sweet virgin almond oil 2 times a day on my chest area, belly, lower back waist area, inner and outer thighs. It definitely provided long lasting hydration (WARNING!!! If  you have any allergies to almonds or suspect you may have allergies to almonds, do not use almond oil as a natural remedy). The almond oil didn't have any smell and I didn't need to spend time making a batch ( as I would with my body butters), I just poured it into a small container, put some in my hand and massaged it on to my skin. You really want to take the time to massage it into the skin, first because you want it to absorb as much as possible so it doesn't go all over your clothes which is why you don't want to put too much, and second because the act of massaging the oil should help promote blood circulation in the area so that could help too! I'm now in the third trimester and my belly is definitely looking preggers, but I'm still going to grow so I'm going to be finally making my butter that contains many natural effective ingredients that are 100% safe during pregnancy (sometimes even some safe ingredients can be dangerous so I carefully formulated the best belly butter I could produce that was safe). I'll be making it in the next couple of days and then start using that instead of the almond oil just to kick the protection up a notch. Many of the ingredients I use for my butter is preventative, but they are not easy to come by, I had to order all the ingredients from a specialized company, but to help you guys out I'll post a DIY recipe that will have some ingredients that are easier to find locally near you. As for the sweet virgin almond oil I used, I'll also put a post up soon explaining its properties, but I will say that I used the cold press oil version which is more natural than the food grade almond oil. You can usually find it in any natural products stores, and if you can't, just buy the food grade almond oil and it will work really well too.

Many women think that once their babies are born, a skin care regimen is no longer needed, but this is not the case. You can also develop stretch marks when you lose weight too rapidly also, which is why its important to reduce you're weight slowly and in a healthy manner. Keep eating healthy with nutrient and vitamin rich foods, keep drinking water and hydrating your skin by applying your moisturizer of choice with a gentle massage. These are the measures you can take to give yourself the best fight against stretch marks in pregnancy, but be aware, that unfortunately, for those of use who are meant to get them no matter what, we may not be able to completely avoid them, but at least we can help reduce the damage. Good news is that in the end, when it comes to a loving mother and her baby, stretch marks aren't the end of the world.

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