Many pregnant women are concerned about stretch marks. Statistics show that about half of women will develop some by the end of their pregnancy. Whether you get some or not is partly depend on your genetics but there are still a few things you can do to put all the odds in your favor. And the earlier you start, even before getting pregnant, the better.
Stretch marks are the result of tearing of the dermis layer of the skin and is usually associated with quick expansion. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2006 including 324 women showed that younger mothers (especially teenagers), overweight and obesity as well as a weight gain of over 33 lbs (15 kg) increase women’s risks of getting them.
Unfortunately, a Cochrane review published in 2012 showed that most creams and lotions sold for the prevention of stretch marks aren’t effective…
But I wonder if it’s because many of these women are deficient with the basic building blocks we need to make healthy skin to begin with. Skin health must start from within!
Here’s what I’m doing… I’ll know if it works in 6 months or so. 🙂
- A healthy REAL food-based diet with enough protein, healthy fats and a variety of plant foods (vegetables, fruits, tubers, etc) is the first step in getting a variety of nutrients to help your body work optimally.
- Homemade bone broth (recipe here) is an excellent source of gelatin, derived from collagen. As you may know, collagen is an important component of healthy skin and connective tissues. Getting gelatin in your diet is a good way to supply your body with all the right building blocks it needs to make strong and elastic skin. In addition, homemade bone broth contains a wide array of bone-building minerals, which is very important if you’re on a dairy-free diet. Don’t fall for the convenience of store-bought bone broth though… it usually isn’t made from real bones and therefore doesn’t contain any of its beneficial gelatin and minerals… rather it’s made of chemicals and even potentially harmful ingredients like gluten, soy and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
- Quality gelatin is another way to get some of the building blocks required to produce healthy skin. It’s a good alternative if you’re not willing to make homemade bone broth or to just get an extra gelatin boost in your diet. Of course, quality matters. I prefer to choose gelatin derived from healthy grass-fed cows. Great Lakes Gelatin Co. is the only brand I know meeting my quality criteria. Here’s a link to my favorite gelatin on amazon.com and amazon.ca. You can put it in your tea or make my yummy gummies recipe in the DHwRF cookbook. 😉
- Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen in your body in addition to having antioxidant properties and supporting your immune system and adrenal glands. The DRI (dietary recommended intake) for pregnant women is 85 mg a day. While it’s sufficient to prevent scurvy (it’s not necessary the optimal amount to maximize health. You can get a lot of vitamin C from eating a diet rich in vegetables (broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers…) and fruits (citrus, kiwifruits, strawberries). Despite eating my fair share of vitamin C-rich foods, I prefer to supplement with an extra 1,000 mg a day (with bioflavanoids). Consult your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure it’s right for you.
- I have switched to using only natural skin care products for over 3 years now. I used to use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer but have discovered in the last year that cacao butter works better for my skin. I feel like my skin absorbs it better and keep it moist longer. That’s the only thing I use on my skin, including my face. All I do is buy organic cacao butter and melt it. I sometimes mix it with a bit of coconut oil, olive oil or essential oils, but lately I’ve been using it 100% pure. Every day, I apply a generous amount of it all over my body, focusing on my belly and breasts, with the goal of preventing stretch mark formation. And it smells wonderful too!* Canadians: Here’s where I get my cacao butter. ** This cacao butter can become quite hard at room temperature during the winter months. Keep it somewhere warm in your home or simply heat it slightly before use.
That’s it! That’s all I do for now. Of course, I’ll have to wait a few months to see how it works but this protocol is not too hard to follow and makes a lot of sense to me.
What are you doing (or what have you done) to prevent stretch marks?