How to Minimize and Possibly Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
My Favorite Creams And Oils To Use On Pregnancy Skin As It Stretches
FULL DISCLOSURE! This post about belly moisturizing creams contains affiliate links, which means that I get a tiny commission from sales that result from this post (at no additional cost to you!) I ask you this - will you click and buy from my belly cream links before you leave this page? (insert prayer hands emoji, and fingers crossed emoji)
Stretch marks. What causes them? Well, for one thing, pregnancy does! I mean, how could it not? Women can put on anywhere from about 20-? lbs in nine short months, causing rapid stretching of your skin in all areas. The result is often stretch marks. Many of us will try to do what we can to minimize these pesky marks during pregnancy. My routine was pretty extreme - maybe even a little bit obsessive. Keep on reading, get your gloves on, and oil up! If anything, all of this oil application will keep your growing belly supple and soft during the nine months of carrying your bundle of joy!
Most of us can agree that our sweet babies are 100% worth all the badges of honor that come with pregnancy, including stretch marks. After my subfertility journey, I would have taken stretch marks over my entire body just to have my son. But if there was a way to possibly prevent or minimize these pesky marks, I was determined to find it!
Stomach skin appearance at 8 months pregnant, 1 week postpartum, and 3 month postpartum.
Let's get one thing straight - the only way to truly prove that your stretch mark reduction plan has worked would be to only treat half of your body. It's very important to have a "control" when testing any theory that you have. You cannot compare one pregnancy to the next since there are too many variables to consider. So, a true experiment would be set up having your left side as the "control" side (where no treatment is received), and the right side of your body would be the side that oils are applied to.
No one wants to be their own human experiment, including myself. So I applied lotions and oils to my entire stomach and leg area. Genetics are, of course, another major thing to factor when it comes to stretch marks. I have stretch marks on my legs and hips, so I know that I am certainly capable of getting the marks. My father has stretch marks, however, my mother, who carried twins, and my grandmother, who birthed five children, do not have a single stretch mark. But I wasn't willing to bet on 50% of my genetics when it came to stretch mark minimization.
For nine months, I stuck with an aggressive plan to keep my skin oiled. From the second I received a positive pregnancy test, I started to apply oils. I didn't begin to show until 22 weeks, but dedicated the first half of my pregnancy preparing my skin for "the big stretch".
The Spoiled Mama product was my first lotion purchase. I bought this product the day I found out that I was pregnant out of excitement. The majority of my oiling and moisturizing ended up being done with coconut oil and Palmer's Skin Therapy oil, which are both slightly more economical oils that come in larger quantities. Bio Oil is also a fave of mine, which I would use once per day since it had a slightly higher price tag. I also love the Soapwalla Organic Resilience Pregnant Belly Oil. The scent is amazing and it has a luxurious feel to it when applied.
During my pregnancy, I went through four jars of coconut oil (my favorite being Skinny & Co coconut oil and Better Body Foods Coconut Oil), two bottles of Palmer's Skin Therapy Oil, two bottle of Bio Oil, and two bottles of Palmer's Stretch Mark Massage Cream.
Each of these products has a different feel on your skin, and I would apply them at different times during the day. The Bio Oil was the most absorbent, so I would apply this product in the morning before work. I would massage it into my skin (while applying a lot of pressure) for five minutes. During lunch while at work, I would then apply the Palmer's Stretch Mark Massage Cream. This product does not have an oily finish, so it is perfect for when you don't want to be a human slip and slide.
After work, when home, I would do my first application of coconut oil. I would massage it into my skin for five minutes or so. My mega oil application would occur just before bedtime. I would take at least two tablespoons of coconut oil and massage it deeply into my stomach and legs.
Be prepared to destroy several pairs of pajama pants, tanks, and sheets if applying this much oil to your skin. I wish I had a photo of my sheets, because due to my oil marination routine, it looked like I had just fried bacon on my side of the bed.
This is how shiny I would be for 50% of the day. Just when you think you've applied enough, apply a little more!
I feel that my oiling efforts paid off. After my pregnancy was said and done, and I had my sweet boy in my life, my stomach slowly returned back to normal. Here is my stomach one week postpartum:
Stomach appearance one week postpartum.
And here it is 10 and then 18 months later (below). No stretchies! So, since I treated my whole body during pregnancy, I will never truly know, from a scientific perspective, if the oiling helped. But what I do know is that it surely didn't hurt (except it did hurt my sheets and pajamas, which are beyond repair!). When my skin started to stretch, I did not have itchy skin, which was a huge plus to using the oils and lotions. Was it genetics, or was it the oil? Who knows! I feel that if oil can help machinery run smoothly with less wear and tear, it can potentially do the same for our bodies!
Left: 10 months postpartum. Right: 18 Months Postpartum (Here's My 3 Tips for Bouncing Back After Pregnancy!)
Belly progression throughout my first pregnancy.
And now that I am pregnant with my second, I am on the constant lookout for new products to try. This Organic Belly Balm by The Honest Company has been my go-to for preventing stretch marks in my first trimester. I cannot wait to see how round two of stretch mark minimization goes! I will be sure to report back!