Samantha Jane Golden, Paramedical Aesthetician – @mumma_skin
When Sarah Male from The Mummy Trainer asked me if I had any advice for mum’s who experience stretch marks during / post pregnancy I *literally* jumped at the chance.
Sarah runs a successful Personal Training business exclusively for mums.
The Mummy Trainer focuses on safe exercise before, during and after pregnancy and I’m actually a member of her Mums and Bubs Group PT session here on the Gold Coast as well as the online courses.
Stretch marks are something that nearly all mums will experience as part of the journey into motherhood. In fact, some studies indicate that the number is as high as 90% of women. (There might even be some dads out there that have a few too!)
Stretch marks are formed when the body gains weight and are commonly seen on the hips, stomach, thighs and buttocks.
Contrary to the belief, losing weight or losing weight rapidly will NOT give you stretch marks.
The incredible changes our bodies go through to nurture and nourish our babies often sees our skin undergo an enormous amount of stretching which can lead to tears in the skin. These tears are called striae (but we know them as stretch marks). Breastfeeding can also see our skin stretch and create striae as our milk comes and breast volume increases.
Stretch marks although common are not a pleasant side effect of pregnancy and child birth for many women. They are often seen as red or purple marks on the skin, (known as striae rubrae) and fade to white, (striae alba) with time.
Whether you get stretch marks or not during pregnancy is largely determined by your genetics. Often if your mum has stretch marks, you will also have a tendency to experience them. So forking out on a ridiculous number of creams and lotions may not actually result in much of a defence.
However, there are a few things you can do that will decrease the severity or likelihood of you getting stretch marks during/post pregnancy.
1. Weight gain
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal for most mums. I’m a big advocate for avoiding scales during pregnancy as I think this can place a lot of stress on your mental health during pregnancy but your obstetrician will likely check your weight throughout your pregnancy. The less “excess” weight you gain during pregnancy the better and the speed at which you gain weight is also important.
This is where The Mummy Trainer’s online pregnancy workout regimes can help. The program is designed to help minimize excess weight gain during pregnancy and promote a healthy pregnancy for mum and bub. All the exercises are broken down into trimesters and can be done in the comfort of your own home with little to no equipment.
As part of the program, Sarah sends you a set of resistance bands and door stop to perform some of the exercises. The videos are also super easy to follow!
2. Keeping the skin hydrated
Hydrated skin is more resilient to stretch marks. The best stretch mark cream on the market is Stratamark. This cream has clinical studies that have shown it both prevents and helps diminish these stretch marks. It works by preventing TEWL (transepidermal water loss) by creating a barrier on the skin that keeps skin hydrated and soft. The medical grade silicone in this cream also helps to regulate the expression of growth factors in the skin, which results in a better scar if one is formed.
3. Healthy diet
A healthy diet during and post pregnancy are important for both mums and their bubs. Ensuring you have a diet that is rich in Zinc, Iron and Vitamin C will ensure you have all the necessary building blocks for maintaining healthy skin function.
Often pregnancy and breastfeeding sees a decline in women’s iron stores so regular checks during and after pregnancy should be done by your doctor to ensure you have enough. Low iron can lead to poor wound healing and skin conditions such as folliculitis. Iron is also a key nutrient for healthy collagen building.
A healthy diet during pregnancy will also help to maintain steady weight gain and help reduce rapid weight gain that causes stretch marks.
In the post partum period, a lot of women purchase things like “Boobie Cookies” that are said to help boost breast milk supply. While it’s true that you burn more calories when breastfeeding and it’s important to maintain sufficient calories to keep up with this, just remember they are still cookies!! And should be limited to treat size portions.
4. Laser treatment
There are few lasers that work on stretch marks. It’s important to remember that with all treatments for scarring (essentially what a stretch mark is) that the results or outcomes are often limited. Scarring doesn’t usually disappear with treatment, rather the visibility of the scar can be lessened over a course of treatments.
Pulse dye laser can treat stretch marks when they are in the Striae Rubrae stage. By targeting the pink and purple marks, visible due to haemoglobin from the increased blood vessels needed to heal the area, this laser can speed up the fading process and help fade stretch marks to the white stage (Striae Alba).
Resurfacing lasers like Co2 and Erbium glass/fiber can have some limited effects on Striae Alba and often multiple treatments are needed to achieve any result. These treatments are often expensive and require some downtime but could be worthwhile if your stretch marks are in a super visible location.
In the end…… My advice to all expectant mums is this;
– Weight gain in pregnancy is normal.
– Stretch marks from pregnancy / breastfeeding are also normal.
– Keep your weight gain slow and steady by exercising regularly and eating well.
– Keep your skin hydrated and supplement with a good pregnancy vitamin that includes zinc, iron and vitamin c.
– Seek help from a professional post partum if you are interested in laser treatments – a licensed Dermal Aesthetician or Dermatologist is your best bet.
And finally, enjoy all the baby snuggles in the world because your body is amazing mumma!