This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too! For any health advice I give on nutrition and wieghtloss, make sure you check with your doctor, as I am not a health professional. I am just a mama with lots of health and fitness knowledge and experience.
I’ve been able to prevent stretchmarks during three pregnancies so far. Preventing stretch marks during pregnancy takes some special attention and care for yourself, so your skin can slowly stretch as baby grows. I am going to give a full run down on caring for your belly, so you can hopefully prevent as many stretch marks as possible during your pregnancy.
Why do we get stretchmarks during pregnancy?
Stretchmarks happen during pregnancy because our skin is forced to stretch too far too fast. Because this happens in a way that is difficult for the skin to adjust too, scars form. Basically the skin stretches so much, it can’t repair itself in the process, and a scar forms. The collagen and fibers in the skin tear as it stretches, which is what leaves a mark that you can see.
During pregnancy, you are gaining weight and your body is getting bigger. Your skin has to accommodate for this and stretch, which sometimes happens beyond its ability to repair. The hormones during pregnancy also make the fibroblasts not as strong, so they don’t stretch as easy. Your collagen levels also reduce a bit during pregnancy, which make skin less elastic. This combination of hormones and growing bellies leaves lots of room for stretch marks to happen.
So, how did I make it through three pregnancies with one small stretch mark? Here is the run down on what I did, and what you can do!
1. Eat A Protein-Rich Diet:
Your skin loves protein. Protein is essential for your hair, skin and nails. Eating a nutrient dense diet, like the one I describe in this program is ESSENTIAL for your skin health.
I was able to gain just belly weight by sticking to a protein-rich and fiber-rich diet. I explain more in The Belly-Only Pregnancy, but basically you want protein and/or fruits and veggies at every meal or snack. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE protein shakes. This is an awesome, safe protein powder that is full of high-quality, organic nutrients, and I have a new protein powder coming out, Milk Dust, which is full of nutrients including folic acid (big deal for pregnant mamas!!), as well lots of lactation-boosting ingredients for breastfeeding. It is a great protein powder to start during pregnancy and continue postpartum. I highly recommend protein shakes because they are an awesome way to get in lots of protein and fruit in a quick, easy and yummy meal!
2. Up Your Collagen Intake:
I currently take the Vital Proteins Collagen now, and I really like that it doesn’t have a taste, so I can throw it in my coffee or smoothies. Adding more collagen is really important because your body produces less collagen as you age. Adding more collagen also helps add in more protein. Two scoops of my Vital Proteins Collagen has 18 grams of protein too, so I am basically drinking collagen, protein coffee in the mornings! Collagen doesn’t have the extra nutrients, digestive enzymes and probiotics as a protein powder, so that is why I suggest both of them blended in a smoothie together. If you are pregnant during the cooler months, soups made with bone broth are an AMAZING way to get more collagen in. This will help you infuse your skin with as much collagen as possible to help it stretch as baby grows.
3. Moisturize + Hydrate Everywhere:
If your skin is dry, it can’t stretch as well. Keeping your skin moisturized with something like coconut oil, a moisturizing balm or a belly cream can be a great help. Drinking more water can really help with is, as well as consuming more omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3s supports ligament healing, reduces inflammation and enhances collagen production. Get omega-3s from walnuts, pecans, soybean, flaxseed, and spinach. If you consume some more oil like olive oil and fish oils, it helps seep through to your skin, which can help it stay moisturized and stretch easier.
4. Control Weight Gain
This goes along with eating a healthy diet, but is really important. By keeping your diet full of nutrient-dense foods, you will be able to maintain your weight gain, as well as get the essential nutrients for keeping your skin healthy. Focus on colorful fruits and veggies, lean protein and the protein shakes I mention, and you will be good to go here. Also add in lots of walking to keep your circulation and blood going to your skin. Movement is going to help with swelling too! Keeping swelling down with lots of water and movement will also keep your weight gain at controlled too.
5. Vitamin C Intake
Check to see if your prenatal vitamin has Vitamin C in it. Vitamin C is really important to collagen production in your own body (without taking additional collagen), and for your skin to repair itself. Part of stretch marks is the inability to repair as fast as it needs to stretch. Vitamin C can help a lot with this, so adding in some extra vitamin C or making sure it is in your prenatal vitamin is really helpful. This vitamin C packet is awesome for immunity, and you can mix it in water, which is easier to digest than capsules. I also highly suggest a drinkable prenatal, which is easier to digest as well. These ones worked really well for me in all three pregnancies because the pill form made me way more nauseous!
These are 5 of the most important tips to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Stretchmarks are not fun at all, and once you have them, they can be super difficult to soften or get rid of. I’ll have a post coming on soon on how to care for and minimize stretch marks once you have them, but of course the best way is to prevent them during pregnancy all together!
If you need help losing the baby weight and keeping up your milk supply, I have a very popular program, The Postpartum Cure, which comes in an app you can download.