It is no surprise that (expecting) Moms require more vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy and breastfeeding than before, as they are growing and feeding another human being. But how much can be a bit confusing sometimes. That is why I have decided to write this overview on all the vitamins and nutrient intakes recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, there are generally three types of food groups to think about. The good (what you should eat during pregnancy), the bad (what you should avoid during pregnancy) and the ugly (what your body is craving anyway).
When I became pregnant I was of course full of emotions, most of them positive. However I also had some questions and fears. One of those was how my body would deal with the pregnancy, if I would gain lots of weight and if I would get stretch marks. I had gotten a lot of stretch marks when I gained weight during puberty. And the scars still cover my legs and booty.
After lots of research on stretch marks, pregnancy no.1 and several months of pregnancy no.2 later I am still free of stretch marks. And I’ve decided to share all the knowledge I gained with my readers.
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You can’t change your genetics
Stretch marks happen when your skin has to expand beyond it’s natural flexibility. Most of the time this happens during growth or weight gain. Both men and women can get stretch marks, although women are more likely to get them.
Women’s connective tissue in their skin is just on average weaker, causing the skin to be less stretchy and flexible. Therefore they are more likely to have cellulite or stretch marks.
The bad news first: how likely it is for you to get stretch marks is determined by your genetics. And you can’t change your genetics per se. So if you have had stretch marks in the past, you are more likely to get them again. However this is not the end of the story.
… But you can work with your body
The good news is that there are several things that you can do that help you prevent stretch marks or lessen the appearance of them. Most of these tips and tricks are easy to implement and inxpensive. However they require some sort of discipline and consistency.
1) Gain weight gradually
If you had a healthy bodyweight before you should gain a total of around 10kg to 15 kg during pregnancy. Although weight gain during pregnancy is healthy and normal, it is not an excuse to just eat whatever you want. Besides the fact that gaining too much weight during pregnancy is unhealthy and not recommended, gaining weight too fast and too much can cause stretch marks.
So one of the best tips to prevent stretch marks is to gain weight gradually and stay within the recommended ranges.
You can find a calculator here .
How can you efficiently control your weight?
- Step on the scale regularly
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet and don’t go crazy.
- Continue with a healthy workout and exercise regime. You can find my blog post on benefits and risks of exercise during pregnancy here.
Important side note: Gaining too much weight too fast could also be a sign of excessive water retention. This can be a symptom of preeclampsia, which is a dangerous pregnancy condition. Monitoring your weight can also help you see the signs of this condition early.
2) Massage your belly regularly
There are a lot of creams, oils and lotions out there that promise you to prevent stretch marks. And while no study has proven yet that the miracle potion for stretch marks exists, there are some benefits to it. Regular massages help to make your skin mor flexible and your connective tissue more elastic.
In addition the oils and creams can help to make the scars lighter and less visible. Although they will not disappear completely.
Here are my favorite oils for a regular belly massage:
Bi-Oil is the absolute classic remedy for scars and probably the most popular one. It comes in various sizes and I especially love the 60ml travel size.
The all natural stretch mark oil from Weleda is my other favorite. It is great if you want a natural, petrol and chemical free oil. It is however a bit pricey. Weleda also has a special oil for the perineum that I will start using in my third trimester of pregnancy.
Retin-oil from skin-care start-up Deciem contains retinol, which helps especially when the stretch marks are already there. However it is not a good oil to use during pregnancy, but more for after giving birth.
The main reason is the key ingredient Retinol. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A. Overdosing on Vitamin A can cause birth defects of the fetus. Although the dosage of Retinol in the oil is fairly low, and first studies have indicated that topical application of retinol is safe during pregnancy, there is still not enough scientific evidence to recommend it during pregnancy.
I would therefore stay on the safe side, and use this great product after you gave birth to your little one.
3) Wear a special support band to prevent stretch marks
I am currently testing and wearing the belly support band from Secret Saviours. It has small rubber spots on the inside. These spots help to “grab” the belly and support its weight and therefore also the lower back. The claimed result: 82% of women who have used this kit have not developped stretch marks. So far I am among these 82% and I will continue to report on this.
The kit comes with a day gel, a night cream and a waist band. There are several sizes of belly bands and colors available so it always fits your belly perfectly.
Do you have any tips on how to prevent stretch marks? Leave me a comment below!
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