Some people say that genetic factors also play a role in developing stretch marks. The other day, I asked my mother if she had to deal with any of depressed purple or reddish streaks in her abdomen's skin when she was pregnant with me and my siblings - she said she never had any problem with stretch marks before. I was so relieved to hear that. Also, I am not certain if some women just don't get their stretch marks because of the fact that it's their first time of being pregnant (and they are not carrying twins) so their skin is still pretty elastic.
My 36 weeks pregnant belly.
So far there are no stretch marks.
My worries of stretch marks had made me extra cautious in preventing the formations of stretch marks in my pregnant belly since the very beginning of my pregnancy. Thus far, I am happy to notice that I have sailed about 36 weeks of gestation period with a smooth belly skin and *knock on wood* I hope they don't appear after I publish this post.
Anyway, here is a run-down of methods I do in preventing the appearance of stretch marks on my belly. I don't know if these methods work for other pregnant women out there as everyone is different but the following are my best tries in avoiding or minimizing the appearance of stretch marks.
1. Moisturise, moisturise.
When I first learned that I was pregnant, my friend advised me to start investing on good quality stretch mark lotion as early as possible to prepare my belly skin's elasticity and suppleness. There is no need to wait for my pregnant belly to expand before applying any stretch mark lotion. This said, long before I had a protruding tummy, at 8 weeks of my pregnancy, I bought my first bottle of stretch mark lotion and started applying it twice a day on my belly. My favourite and trusted brand so far is Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. The lotion is non-greasy and contains Cocoa Butter, Vitamin E, Shea Butter and Collagen, among other things. I have tried using Pureen's Stretch Mark Lotion once but I was not so fantastically pleased with the product so after one bottle, I quit buying it.
I've used three bottles of stretch mark lotion so far.
And I am about to open my fourth one soon (above).
In my opinion, the drawback of Cocoa and Shea Butter based stretch mark lotion is its horrible smell. I honestly can't stand it. Therefore, these days, I apply both stretch mark lotion and baby lotion on my belly minimum twice a day. I apply a little bit of baby lotion too in my belly to alleviate the strong scent of Cocoa and Shea Butter. Another friend of mine (who was pregnant and did not have any stretch mark at all during her pregnancy) recommended Bio-Oil to prevent stretch marks and she said this oil may have much lighter scent as compared to other stretch mark lotion brands. However, I have not personally tested this product as my husband advised me to just stick on the stretch mark lotion brand that has worked wonder on me to date.
Further, at the time when my tummy started expanding rapidly, say at the 6th or 7th month of my pregnancy, I had the chance to use Body Shop's Shea Butter Bath and Shower Cream once a day to extra moisturise my belly skin. The shower cream smells like Play-Doh but I forced myself to keep using it for the sake of its substantial moisturising properties.
2. No scratching, please!
You know as our pregnant belly expands sometimes it gets very itchy. I hold the urge of scratching my belly's skin every time it gets very itchy because I heard scratching the skin will promote the appearance of stretch marks. When itchiness pays me a visit, I quickly apply my stretch mark or baby lotion on the itchy area to prevent me from scratching.
I bought this lotion for my baby
but ended up using this lotion for myself for the time being.
3. Drink lots of H2O
Drinking water is no rocket science for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Water is good for our pregnant body, digestion, baby and skin. I drink at least 2L of water a day to keep (myself and) my skin hydrated, healthy and *fingers-crossed* stretch-mark free.
4. Eat for 1+Baby
Some articles say if we gain weight to rapidly or too much during pregnancy, the weight gain will stretch our skin too severely; hence stimulate the appearance of stretch marks here and there. I maintain my pregnancy weight and my baby's weight gains at steady pace by remembering not to go crazy on my eating habit. I know I am eating for two now but I am fully conscious that I am currently feeding one adult (me!) and a baby. Not two adults. I just stop eating when I am full.
5. Do some minor exercises
Exercise is said to be one of the effective ways in minimizing stretch marks. I don't do any specific regular physical exercises during my pregnancy but sometimes I do swim, take a walk in the park or shopping malls, complete my part of daily household chores, climb a flight of steps many times a day (because my bedroom is upstairs) and sweat in the kitchen when baking cookies or cakes. Not sure if these activities are actually reckoned as pregnancy exercises to help me stay away from stretch marks, though.
By investing on all the above, I really wish that I will not have to spot any stretch marks on my belly and other body parts during this pregnancy and postnatal later on.