Stretch marks can be a touchy subject. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having them (I’ve had them on my hips since my early 20’s!) and there is nothing wrong with wanting to prevent them. The idea of stretch marks didn’t really scare me when I got pregnant – actually, the concept of something physical that I would carry with me forever from this experience actually sort of appeals to me. Must be the tattoo-lover in me! Nevertheless, I wanted to give my skin the best chance at staying healthy and bouncing back after pregnancy – especially my stomach tattoo. Plus, no one wants to deal with the itchiness that can be common as skin stretches with the changes of pregnancy. I used two products from Shea Moisture on my belly and hips and I am thrilled with how my skin handled the changes of pregnancy.
I have a few stretch marks directly over my belly button that I suspect stem from my old belly button piercing that stretched just about to its max during the pregnancy. My belly button went from an innie to an extreme-outie during my third trimester, and it is slowly but surely going back to somewhat normal (which is truly amazing…I did not think it would recover haha!). The texture of the skin on my stomach is just about normal now – looking healthy and happy! And my tattoo looks as good as ever!
So as far as stretch marks go during pregnancy, the best way to avoid them is a healthy weight gain that comes on steadily, as opposed to super quickly. There also appears to be a hereditary component; some people are just more likely to have them than others. The size and positioning of your baby and number of babies can also play a role. Basically, like most of the things that happen to your body during pregnancy, the stretching of your skin is inevitable and a bit out of your control. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take fabulous care of yourself and treat your amazing body with love and care!
From the start of my pregnancy, I used a super moisturizing soap with fantastic, natural ingredients. Shea Moisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Shea Butter Soap leaves my skin feeling soft and happy without any greasy residue. I used this on my entire body, but always made sure to focus on my belly, breasts, hips, and thighs – since those areas saw the most change throughout my pregnancy. It is free of parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, and sulfates. Shea Moisture products are cruelty-free, ethically sourced, and produced by a family-owned company. Cruelty-free and affordable – my favorite combo.
Once my belly really started popping (from about 24 weeks on), I added a super luxurious body butter to my routine. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Cupuaçu Mommy Stretch Mark Butter Cream is packed full of oils and butters that skin loves. I’m super impressed with the ingredients: organic shea butter, coconut oil, Cupuaçu butter, organic cocoa seed butter, Passiflora seed oil, pistachio oil, vitamin E, and essential oils. These ingredients are packed with vitamins and fatty acids that help hydrate, soothe, soften and protect skin. As you can see from the image below, the product has a grainy consistency in the jar, which is simply from all of the great butters (temperature can affect these ingredients, resulting in a different consistency, but the product still works the same).
During my pregnancy, after a shower when my skin was still damp and warm, I applied the Mommy Stretch Mark Butter Cream all over my belly and hips. I allowed the product to melt a bit in my hands before working it into the skin. Due to the intense ingredients, it does leave the skin oily at first, so I would always allow myself ten or fifteen minutes to relax and let it soak in. I think this product made a huge difference in the elasticity and hydration of my skin while pregnant. And it smells AMAZING!
In addition to these two products, I also used LUSH Christingle Naked Body Conditioner on my belly during the last month of my pregnancy. Unfortunately, that was a limited edition product and there are currently no other Naked Body Conditioners on LUSH’s shelves. I would suggest you try Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner if you’re looking for something similar!
I am four week postpartum today, and I am still blown away by what my body is capable of. It is truly unbelievable. We’ll talk more about post-baby-bodies soon, but my message for now is that I’m thankful I treated that growing belly with love and respect. Self-love is never selfish, even when you’re growing a human!