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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis

Avoiding Stretch Marks during Pregnancy?

For those of you who know me well, you might be a little surprised that I'm writing about this topic – it's not the sort of thing I usually choose to write about. But I have been asked about this SO MANY TIMES that I have to accept that it is something that a lot of us are worried about.

Whatsmore, there is so much crap advice out there, and so many women are wasting their money on expensive lotions and potions that just don't work (and are probably full of junk - and you know they just re-bottle the same damn body cream that you buy for a fraction of the price) when there are a few, far more effective (though less sexy) things that they could be doing. I do have some thoughts on the topic as well as my own "routine" of sorts to share with you, that are based in LOGIC and understanding about how the body works, I might add.

It is difficult to find sound, well-thought out, logical blog posts or information on topics like these (rather than those just recommending one product over another), so here's my attempt to do just that.

I DON'T have any creams or pills or programmes to sell you, however. Just some sound, logical advice and a few simple tips (and hopefully steering you away from any unnecessary, expensive and ineffective treatments).

To me it seems that there are 4 major factors that contribute to whether or not you will get stretch marks:

  1. Genetics

  2. Rate and amount of weight gain

  3. Nutrition and current health status including your fitness level

  4. Blood flow

There is nothing we can do about the first factor – choose your parents wisely!

The second and third we have a little control over. If there is really sudden and drastic weight gain, this might pull at the skin more that doesn't have a good chance to adapt to the changes. You can't really control the growth of your belly beyond trying not to put on too much weight too quickly (remember, weight gain of 11-15kg is the range we're generally looking for), but that's kind of dumb advice.

The third factor is something we can start to play with – but it will have a lot to do with how healthy you have been the years leading up to your pregnancy – if you're reading this now, you're probs preggo and it's a bit late for that, but if you are by any chance reading this to plan for a pregnancy a few years down the line, get fit and healthy now!

You can of course control your nutrition during pregnancy, (well, unless you have horrible nausea and can only eat bread and butter for the first few months). It's probably a good idea to take a good multivitamin and omega 3 (but you should check that with your health-care provider). Beyond that, I'm not going to spend time on this post talking about how to eat to avoid stretch-marks, because it will be the same as for general nutrition advice – lots of fruits and veggies, fibre, a variety of fats, minimizing processed foods… nothing new. (Ignore any special diets that claim to prevent stretch marks!).

So far, not much great advice to give, huh?

The fourth factor – blood flow to the area is where I think we can do a few key things that might make a difference. Here are a few things I am doing:

1. Exercise

Anything that gets the heart-rate up and gets blood flowing to the whole body, blood flow will increase to the abdomen too (better than any gadgets). If you can aim to get your heart-rate up for 20 minutes 3 times a week that's great (although current recommendations are 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week - that can seem a lot for some of us).