The pressure is real. While we know that up to 80% of women manifest stretch marks during pregnancy, there are things that you can do to minimize the probability that your body will show this sign of rapid skin growth. The truth is that regardless of whether or not you have silvery shiny marks to show for your body’s hard work of growing a baby, these 6 natural ways to prevent stretch marks are essential for good health, anyway! So, feel good, mama. We’ve got a great list of tips that will help your body be prepared for the changes it has ahead in pregnancy.
And here are our top 6 tips for preventing stretch marks in Pregnancy:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Nutrients for Healthy Skin Growth & Repair
- Stress Management
- Natural Topical Choices
What does exercise have to do with stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur when your skin cannot keep up with rapid expansion. Exercise helps your muscles maintain tone, and reduce excess fat build-up. Exercise also helps your skin remain elastic and promotes waste removal - these two purposes give your skin the best chance at expanding without production of scar tissue. 1
While pregnant, exercise has many benefits for you and your baby (to find out more about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy click here) and combatting stretch marks is a bonus to all of those substantial benefits.
We have some tips for you, if you are looking for great exercises that you can do while pregnant here.
2. Diaphragmatic Breath
We have developed a technique that not only helps prepare your body for birth, but may also help fend off stretch marks. The Core Breathing Belly Pump™ exercise is built to help you engage your core while pregnant, build pelvic floor muscle strength and while doing both of these things, increase elasticity in your midsection (which means a way more manageable third trimester for you!)
The diaphragm is the most important muscle in breathing, yet 90% of people have weak diaphragmatic function. The Core Breathing Belly Pump™ exercise is a technique built to not only help your skin elasticity, but also to promote Immunity, Digestion, Tissue Repair, Growth & Development, Reproduction.
How does it work? Try this exercise!
Stand or sit comfortably, placing both hands on your lower belly, relaxing and taking a few deep breaths.
Observe where your body naturally expands to accommodate the breath:
Did your belly, ribs, and lower back expand?
Did your chest or neck rise?
When done properly, diaphragmatic breathing will look and feel like the air is filling your belly, ribs, and lower back first. Only with a very deep breath would your chest and neck raise, and if it does, it should be only the last one-third of the inhale.
Try again now, focusing on filling your belly, ribs and lower back first. If you need help, check out our video that contains helpful coaching cues for you to use this powerful move to benefit your body and your baby.
It’s not a secret that what you eat affects how you feel, and what you eat during pregnancy can have a big impact on how well your body adjusts to the demands of growing another human.
Here’s a short list of vitamins that will help your skin maintain elasticity and your optimal repair function for your body while pregnant and beyond (we would like to remind you at this point that we are not your doctor and you should most definitely check-in with your trusted medical guide about the choices you make for the health of you and your baby).
Vitamin C - probably the most famous of the nutrients on this list, this vitamin is essential for collagen production (that’s the necessary part for firmness of the skin), and repair.
- Bell Peppers
Vitamin A2 3 - Vitamin A is essential for the growth of healthy skin cells that are firm and healthy. Having enough of this vitamin is an important component in giving your growing belly the tools it needs to stretch without scarring.
- Beef liver
- Sweet Potato
- Red sweet peppers
Other vitamins essential for healthy skin growth include: Vitamin E, Zinc, and Biotin
If this list were arranged in order of importance, this one would probably top the list. Nothing is a more natural solution than water! And hydration plays a big role in many ways for your pregnant body: waste removal, heat regulation, and amniotic fluid regulation 4. But it also helps keep your skin elastic, which is essential to the point of this article.
The Institute of Medicine suggests that pregnant women should consumes: “ 3.0 L/day of total water. This includes approximately 2.3 L (≈ 10 cups) as total beverages, including drinking water.” 5
You can get fluids from other sources also, but nothing beats the form Mother Nature first created when it comes to staying hydrated.
Note: It is probably best to avoid both unfiltered tap water and plastic-bottled water, opting instead for quality filtration or glass-bottles from trusted sources. Regulations that filter your tap water are not likely able to keep pace with the monitoring, testing, and ultimately filtering of new chemicals entering our product lines and water supply every day. A faucet-mounted water filter is usually most economical and will also avoid your water from sitting in unnatural canisters after filtration.
5. Stress Management
We are learning that excess stress wreaks havoc on so many areas of our bodies, and skin repair & health is one of those areas. "Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol, which damages skin's ability to hold on to water," 6 Peter Elias, MD, a dermatology professor at the University of California, San Francisco tells us. As we learned above, hydration is an important element of proper skin growth, and stress can zap your body’s water retention abilities. The triggering of cortisol does more than dehydrate you though, it also sets off glycation, which damages collagen.
Building a practice of mindfulness is a great way to combat excess stress. Small changes like setting alarms on your phone to check-in about your stress levels, or meditating daily can make a big difference in the stress levels that you experience in your life.
We have built a series of 5 Prenatal Meditations that are a great way to begin this mindfulness practice in your life. Sign Up HERE.
6. Natural Topical Choices
Taking in foods that promote and protect skin renewal is by far superior to topical solutions when it comes to preventing stretch marks during pregnancy, but there are amazing (and natural) topical items that can play an important role in healthy skin stretching. The science behind synthetic collagen promoters is not yet established, but we do know that natural solutions containing Vitamin A, E and Zinc can help with dermal elasticity. Rentinal A is not approved for pregnant women, and should be avoided, but consider options like:
- Shea Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado oil
Use these too preserve smoothness, and add additional smoothness to skin.
What else? Protect the collagen that your body is already mobilizing 7 by wearing a natural sunscreen, drinking enough water and steering clear of cigarette smoking.