Thursday, August 18, 2011

Preventing Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Oh the joys of pregnancy! Just when I thought that I was getting settled into my new state as a pregnant woman and I am getting used to my middle expanding...I realize that my tummy is itching and my skin feels tight. The next day I realize that there are some new scars on my hips. I remember getting some stretch marks when my hips first came in and my breasts first appeared but I thought that I might be through with that...sadly, pregnancy brings back some of the traumatic events of puberty. At least I don't have to deal with my period for a few more months...

Being the proactive pregnant woman that I am I went looking for the best way to prevent and treat stretch marks. The key to preventing stretch marks is to keep your skin moisturized so that it does not damage when it stretches.

Helpful Tips for an an itchy belly:
  • Stretch marks are a lot easier to prevent then they are to get rid of; so the key should be on prevention.
  • Keep a bottle of lotion in your purse and when your tummy gets itchy putting a layer of lotion on when I go to the bathroom.
  • Layer-up! Put some lotion on after the shower and when you go to bed at night.
  • If you are itchy and can't get to the bathroom, DON'T SCRATCH the itch- MASSAGE IT!!! When you scratch the itch you actually damage the skin cells which opens them up to stretching. By massaging the itch gently you are not creating any damage but increasing blood flow to the area.  
Picking the Right Product- Oh the choices!

There are a million websites out there that will tell you about great stretch mark creams, lotions, balms, sprays, and body butters. There is no shortage of product for this malady, complete with testimonies about how great they work. However, when I started looking for the "top rated" products I was shocked by the prices of these products. I might be desperate to prevent stretch marks but I am not going to spend a fortune to do it. This led me on a different search. So I started to look at what the main ingredients in the over priced products were. What I found was that some of the old faithful products that my grandmother used to keep in the house for general use. These products are simply over priced Aloe, coco butter, mineral oil, and Shea butter. Most of these products you can find for under $10.

Armed with this knowledge I didn't have to go very far to find a good moisturizer. Target, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe's all offer the simple form of these products and they do so in a cost affective manner. So far at 32 weeks I have not gotten any additional stretch marks and my skin feels great! From using these products my hands are also softer. My advice to any woman looking for a good stretch mark cream: keep it simple and stick to the old faithful, natural products!

My Product of Choice

My personal favorite is Palmer's  company brand of products. I have used the regular Cocoa Butter Lotion since I was a teenager spending too much time in the sun and have always enjoyed this product. It usually sells for under $10 and is easy to find just about anywhere (Bed Bath and Beyond actually has great prices and selection of Palmer's products). Palmer's carries a whole line of pregnancy and post-pregnancy products. My favorite product is still the regular Cocoa Butter with Vitamin E. 

I have been using the Palmer's Tummy Butter for a few weeks and I do enjoy the this product. It has a light lavender scent to it. My only criticism is that it is a little difficult to get get out of the jar at first but once you rub it and warm it up with your fingers it is just fine. Amazon lists this product for $17 but I bought it at Bed Bath and Beyond for around $6.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter For Stretch Marks, 4.4-Ounce Units (Pack of 3)

I have also tried the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Cream for Stretch Marks. This product is not as think and it I personally do not like the smell of this lotion. It has a rather clinical smell but it doesn't linger after it dries. I like this product for my tummy but and stretch march prone areas but with the regular Cocoa Butter the best because I can put it all over my body. Both products work great cost about the same.

Palmers Palmers Cocoa Butter Lotion for Stretch Marks

Areas to Moisturize

Now that you have the right product do the job right! When you are getting all buttered up make sure that get all the areas that are going to be affected by the stretching process.

Be sure to moisturize:
  • The belly- don't forget the top of the rib cage and the area below the belly down to the pubic hair 
  • lower back
  • hips
  • thighs (especially the inner thigh) and legs
  • breasts 
I have a girlfriend who only applied lotion to her belly and forgot some of the important areas listed above. Her belly was fine but she got stretch marks up her legs and on her lower back. Remember that all of your skin in connected, it is one large organ, and the pulling and stretching is happening all over your body!

If you are interested in making your daily moisturizing a little more fun...ask your husband to help you get all your stretch mark prone zones! Of all the tasks I am now asking my husband to help me with, this task is by far his favorite!

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