A desperate fear of stretch marks

I’ve been told there’s nothing I can do about them – not really. Not that is will stop companies espousing how their product is THE ONLY ONE that will keep the unsightly, saggy marks from ever appearing on your body.

Maybe most importantly, are stretch marks something to even worry about? I’m still coming to terms with the fact I’ll likely never get my youthful tight body back – not entirely, anyway. I see and hear many women who are proud of their stretch marks, rightfully referring to them as their battle scars. So by not wanting these marks, I feel both incredibly vain but also entirely justified. I’ll follow some advice, but I’m trying to do it on a budget as well, so expensive products with outlandish claims are out of the question.

My doula claims (is of course entirely right) that nothing I do will actually stop marks from appearing, no cream that will ensure my skin doesn’t stretch beyond its capacity. Stretch marks come from the inside of the skin, rather than the outside, so topical application of anything isn’t going to help. That being said, she said if it makes you feel good, go nuts. So I did.

Here are the tips and products I’ve heard about how to avoid stretch marks:

1. Stay hydrated: Okay. I drink roughly 18 litres of water a day. Cool and easy, done.

2. Vitamin E: This vitamin is knows as an antioxidant that protects and repairs skin. I’m sure all the prenatal vitamins I take include Vitamin E in them somewhere, but I also use it topically. Sticky but feels great. See below for my recipe.

3. Bio Oil: This is an oil supposedly designed to improve the look of scars and stretch marks after the fact. Since it’s not preventative, and likely super expensive, I haven’t looked into this. Yet. When my belly is a crisscrossed map of my pregnancy, I might change my tune. It does specify that stretch marks are permanent, so it can’t help that much.

4. Essential oils: Mostly what I hear about essential oils is many of them are really harmful to pregnant women, either causing miscarriages or straight up poisoning your fetus, so I try to stay away from them. One that is apparently okay for pregnancy, and French women swear by, is almond oil. French women are the de facto experts in all things beauty, so it must be okay, right? Normally I wouldn’t have spent the money on this, but my lovely husband surprised me with some delicious Almond Supple Skin Oil from L’Occitane. It’s actually promoted as to be awesome during and after pregnancy. And … it feels so good. Like, breathe out a deep sigh of relief when you massage it into the skin and it absorbs immediately, leaving you feeling silky and sexy for approximately two minutes. Worth it.

5. Don’t get too big: Is this really appropriate advice for a women who is growing an autonomous being inside her belly? Is this something Kegels can help with, because I’m not sure how I can control how big he’s going to get. I mean, sure, don’t gain 100 pounds while you’re pregnant, but that’s just good advice all around. Your belly is going to get big all on its own, without the extra help. So, thanks for that?

6. Lasers: Allegedly for afterwards. I don’t know how I’ll feel about my stretch marks, not sure if they will be laser necessary. I’ll wait and see.

What I do use is an oil that I make up myself: Good for the wallet and good for my skin, since I know that it doesn’t contain any weird chemical or hormonal shit. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make up.

Take some high-quality organic coconut oil (purchased at a local health food store for probably way too much, but still a lot less than any skin care product). Since coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, I need to heat it up, in a make shift bain-marie and a pyrex measuring cup with a spout. About 1/4 cup of oil will serve for a month’s supply of body buttery goodness.

Then take several Vitamin E gel tablets (I use about 8-10) and slice them open with a sharp knife point, then squeeze out the golden oil inside of them. Your hands will get coated in the stuff. Do not wash it off – instead, rub into historically dry, cracked areas of the skin, like elbows or the belly itself and relish in the awesome feeling.

Mix it all up and pour into a bottle that will allow for easy application. Voila! Homemade skin products. I want to add some essential oils to the mix and use this as a perfume, but I’m avoiding these during the pregnancy. Once that’s over and done with, I want to add something spicy like a cinnamon/clove mix. I think that next pregnancy, though, I’ll go with the naturally flavoured coconut oil so I can at least pretend that I’m going to the beach.

As for my stretch marks, seven months in and so far, so good. But, baby is getting bigger, visibly everyday. And two months is a long time. Not to mention a friend of mine told me she didn’t think she had any marks, only to find out once the baby was out they had been invisible to the naked eye while she was pregnant. Not so much anymore. So I could be all stretched out as it is anyway – we’ll just have to wait and see.

Word of the day:

Quickening: to become more active, sensitive (eg. This drug causes the pulse to quicken), to become alive; receive life; (of the mother) to enter that stage of pregnancy in which the fetus gives indications of life

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