The odds are that you’ve heard about the horrors of stretch marks and pregnancy. But did you know not everyone gets them? I’m one of those women who didn’t get a single stretch mark on my belly with either of my pregnancies! Want to prevent your own? Learn how to avoid stretch marks and saggy skin during pregnancy.
When I became pregnant the first time, I knew that I personally didn’t want to get stretch marks if possible. After some research I learned that stretch marks CAN be prevented for many women with the right products and healthy choices.
I’m going to share with you a few products that actually work to prevent stretch marks. I’m ALSO going to share with you the steps I personally took that I think helped me come out the other side of two nearly 42 week pregnancies with zero stretch marks.
Note: Some links may be affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you use my links to purchase, at no extra added cost to you! I only recommend products that I personally love and believe in. Read the full disclaimer here.
Can You Avoid Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Before we go too far, I want to say this: there is NOTHING wrong with getting stretch marks. A woman’s body is incredible, and the fact that we can create life is nothing short of a miracle. Our skin stretches to accommodate our growing baby, and for many women that can result in stretch marks.
However, for many women there is a desire to avoid getting stretch marks while pregnant, or reduce them if possible. According to Healthline, the “best way for pregnant women to prevent stretch marks is to gain pregnancy weight slowly and steadily.”Rapid weight gain makes your skin stretch faster, making it more likely to leave a mark.
What causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
A stretch mark is actually a teeny tear in the supporting layers of tissue under your skin, that happens as your skin is pulled tight due to stretching during pregnancy.
While there isn’t a hard and fast rule, many researchers believe that whether or not you develop stretch marks during pregnancy actually has more to do with your genetics than anything else. Women with less stretch marks have more elasticity in their skin, which means that if your mom had pregnancy stretch marks, the odds are greater that you will get them too.
However, my mom got a ton, and I walked away from two pregnancies with zero stretch marks on my tummy! There were a few things that I did that I believe helped me not develop stretch marks, including some great products and techniques.
Related: How to Take a Postpartum Sitz Bath
How to Help Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
If you want to help prevent stretch marks on your growing tummy, here is what I did and I truly believe might work for you!
Moisturize multiple times throughout the day.
I personally used and swear by Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Body Oil. It’s incredibly moisturizing and absorbs into the skin quickly. It’s also insanely affordable!
Every morning I rubbed this vitamin e oil not only across my stomach, but on my breasts. This is a huge piece many women forget, but your breasts can grow by up to TWO cup sizes while pregnant! Be sure to start moisturizing as soon as you find out you’re pregnant to help your skin stay as soft as possible while it stretches.
If you’re able to, I recommend moisturizing after you get out of the shower. Your skin is better able to absorb the moisturizer. I also moisturized my tummy a second time before bed each night.
I tried a lot of creams, but this body oil is by far the best one out there for the price.
I recommend using a natural exfoliant, especially while you’re pregnant. You can create a coffee scrub, or there are some great options available on Amazon.
I loved using this M3 Naturals Brown Sugar Scrub because not only was it a gentle and natural option, but it is infused with collagen, which helps to improve your skin’s elasticity AND minimize any existing stretch marks you have.
Gently exfoliate your tummy and breasts 1-2 times per week during your pregnancy. It’s also a good idea to continue to exfoliate your body postpartum. Be sure to get the OK from your doctor if you have a C-section before beginning this again.
Moisturized skin starts from the inside! As your baby grows, so does your need to increase your water intake. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
I am one of the worst people about drinking water when I’m not pregnant, so I swear by ordering a large water bottle to help hold yourself accountable. This Iron Flask water bottle is insulated and a great way to stay aware of your water intake!
Not only is increased hydration important for keeping your skin moisturized (and helping to prevent stretch marks), but it’s important for helping to keep your growing baby happy and healthy.
Products that Actually Prevent Stretch Marks
Again, there is nothing wrong with stretch marks! However, if you’re interested in reducing or preventing them while pregnant, there are a few products that can help like:
- Cocoa Butter: One of the most effective moisturizers out there is cocoa butter. It helps nourish and hydrate your skin. It’s available as a cream or as an oil.
- Shea Butter: Made with vitamin E and A, shea butter is known as a great moisturizer that can help to increase your skin’s elasticity and collagen production.
- Avocado Oil: Like shea butter, avocado oil is also very moisturizing. It has also been shown to stimulate collagen production, which can help prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
- Rose Hip Oil: Rose hip oil is known for helping to restore elasticity while moisturizing your skin.
- Exfoliating Natural Scrubs: Exfoliating dead skin can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of stretch marks, as well as helping to minimize the appearance of existing ones.
How to Treat Stretch Marks if You Get Them
While there are many things you can do to help prevent getting stretch marks, for many women stretch marks are part of life! Did you know that pregnancy is one of the most common times when women notice stretch marks? In fact, it’s estimated that 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women will develop stretch marks before delivery.
So what can you do if you DO end up develop them? Luckily, there are a few treatment options that help to lessen their appearance.
Many of us are already familiar with retinoid cream for helping to rebuild the collagen in the skin in our face as we age. Derived from vitamin A, retinoid creams can make a big difference in helping with the appearance of stretch marks, especially if they are relatively new.
Be sure to speak with your medical provider before trying them if you are pregnant or nursing, as they are not recommended for use during that time. Double check any stretch mark cream before you use it as well.
Glycolic acid is found in both cream form and as chemical peels. This is a more intense way to treat stretch marks and can be helpful with lessening their appearance on the surface of the skin.
Lasers can help stimulate collagen or elastin in your skin to grow, helping to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Laser treatments are a very effective way to treat stretch marks. There are multiple types of laser therapy out there, so you’ll need to talk with your doctor to find the option that is right for you.
How can I prevent loose skin during pregnancy?
Despite our best efforts postpartum, loose skin seems to linger for many new mamas. Our skin is made of elastin and collagen, allowing it to expand when we gain weight. For some of us, once stretched our skin might struggle to return to its smaller size. Weight loss can do a doozy on skin elasticity, and excess skin can be hard to get rid of.
This is something many new moms struggle with. Remember that it will take time for your skin to shrink back after birth, so be patient with yourself. There are a few things that you can do to help this process.
- Continue to drink lots of water
The more hydrated we are, the more elastic (and healthier) our skin is. Your body also needs extra water postpartum to help it function, make breastmilk and heal. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
2. Massage with oils and exfoliate
Some oils and exfoliation products can help skin repair itself. Give almond oil, essential oils, coconut oil and jojoba oil a try. You can also gently exfoliate your skin using a natural exfoliating mixture too to repair the surface of your skin and stimulate new skin growth.
3. Add in cardio and strength training
Upping your heartrate helps your body burn fat and tone muscles, which can also help you skin to shrink faster. Be sure to get the go-ahead from your doctor first before trying cardio like walking, swimming or jogging.
When you’re ready, add strength-training workouts, which will help to tone your muscles, like yoga and barre. Start slow and work your way back up to more intense exercise. Be sure to check with your doctor that the exercises you choose are safe for your abdominal muscles.
4. Try products that firm the skin
Look for skin-firming products (like these) that contain retinoids, collagen and vitamin C.
5. Be sure you’re eating protein and healthy fat (especially if breastfeeding/pumping)
A healthy diet goes far! A balanced diet contributes to healthy skin. Protein found in food can contain collagen! Plus, eating healthy fats and lean protein can help your body build muscle.
6. Get a skin wrap
Hit up your favorite local spa or order a few like these with clay, sea salt or kelp that can help with skin firming. Keep in mind that the results from wraps are only temporary (though they do help soften and detoxify while tightening your skin).
Try Different Things to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy.
I hope this list of items that actually help prevent stretch marks is helpful for you as you navigate your pregnancy. The easiest way to give yourself the best chance to avoid developing stretch marks is to make sure you’re drinking enough water, moisturizing, eating healthy and taking care of your body.
Stretch marks CAN be prevented for many pregnant mamas with the right combination of products and healthy choices! The good news is that if you do develop any stretch marks, there are now many topical treatments to help your skin health, as well as prevent new stretch marks.