Being pregnant is great, I’ve been absolutely loving it. One of the things I was slightly worried about as my belly got bigger has been the appearance of those dreaded stretch marks. To be honest I’ve been pretty neurotic about this from the start and as soon as I was 2 months pregnant started slathering oil onto my non-existent baby bump.
I don’t want to jinx this, but so far it’s been working. I’m past the 8 month mark with a nice big gigantic belly and no stretch marks (touch wood, cross fingers). A stretch mark is basically a tear in the collagen fibre of the skin so there are a number of nutrients that help to increase the elasticity (stretchiness) of the skin and in this way help prevent them from occurring. I’ve been focusing on a number of different things in my diet, supplements and skin care routine that have been helping my skin accommodate my growing boy.
Here they are….
Food & Supplements
I’ve increased my intake of foods containing healthy fats, which helps with the skins flexibility and keeps the skin hydrated and supple. They’re also very important for the baby’s brain health as well as yours.
I’ve been having:
• Oily fish – Salmon, sardines, anchovies, bluefin tuna, herring, mackerel, trout.
• Olive oil
• Coconut oil
• Hemp seeds and oil
• Flax seeds and oil
• Nuts and seeds – Sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds as well as any butters made from these
• Eye Q Mumomega fish oil supplements by Equazen (I take 1 of these a day)
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin C, E, Zinc are very important, in fact essential since a sign of zinc deficiency can actually be stretch marks. Vitamin C is one of the nutrients that makes collagen as well as a range of the B vitamins. Vitamin C also helps to protect collagen from damage along with flavonoids (a group of antioxidants), these two generally support the integrity of the skin. Here’s a list of various food sources of all of these nutrients along with a picture of my breakfast from this morning that has a nice range of these foods (berries and seeds).
I’ve been consuming:
• Nuts and Seeds – almonds, cashews, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds
• Chicken (the dark bits are especially high)
• Dark chocolate (hurrah, has a nice little bit of zinc)
• Berries – Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
• Sweet potato
• Zinc Citrate by BioCare (I take 1 a day)
• Pregnancy & Lactation Formula by BioCare (1 a day), which has zinc, vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin E
I have been diligently slathering on a variety of different oils and balms to keep my belly skin soft. Over the past 8 months I have tried 3 different kinds, as I’ve been switching between all 3 this is not a very scientific review, but it may help you if you’re looking to select an anti-stretch mark product.
Japanese Camellia Oil by Elemis
I was lucky enough to get given this from a friend when I was about 3 months pregnant, I used it for about 2 months, ran out and have just started using it again (at 8 months pregnant).
Apparently camellia oil is rich in plant collagen, easily absorbed and thus ideal for preventing stretch marks. All I can say is that I like it, it doesn’t have a strong smell, makes my skin soft, the bottle lasts ages but it is on the expensive side (in the UK I think this retails for £27 for 100ml).
There was a big who ha about this oil as Victoria Beckham said she used this throughout all her pregnancies, not that this drove me to getting the product, but it’s still a good endorsment and so far it’s worked well in my cocktail of skin treatments.
I really like this stuff. This as well as the Elemis are my two favourites. It has a lovely blend of vitamin A and E, Calendula oil, Lavender oil, Rosemary and Chamomile oil as well we PurCellin oil (no idea what this is but it’s supposed to be very good for the skin). All these things mean that it helps to increase the elasticity of the skin and keeps those pesky stretch marks at bay.
I used this for a couple of months before I ran out (and threw the bottle away so I couldn’t include it in the photo, sorry). It didn’t have a strong smell, absorbed well and is quite a bit cheaper then the Elemis oil at £8.49 for 60ml (from Boots or Superdrug).
Mother’s Balm by Neal’s Yard
My lovely mum gave me this. It’s a different kettle of fish to the other two as it’s a paste/balm. It smells quite strongly of honey (though it says it’s fragrance free) and is very rich. It has a blend of coconut, apricot, almond and macadamia seed oils and beeswax. It does feel very nourishing and re-hydrating but I found this one remained a bit sticky on the skin for quite a while. You’re supposed to allow the balm to soften in your hands and then rub it in but I found it was a little bit gritty at first, though it eventually absorbed. In terms of price this is £19.75 for 120ml.
Overall I’d rate the Bio Oil as my top product, considering the smell, consistency, effect on the skin, packaging (this was the best for travel) and price. The Elemis is great if you’ve got the budget for it and the Neal’s Yard one is good if you’re looking for a very rich paste rather then oil (I don’t think I would re-purchase this one as it didn’t really fit the bill for me).
With all these foods, supplements and potions I better not get any ruddy stretch marks! Only a few weeks left so we’ll see. I’ll let you know how successful I’ve been post baby.
Stop Press!! Just before I put up this post my Mum arrived to spend a week with me pre-birth, now my maternity leave has started. The wonderful woman that she is she came laden with healthily snacks for labour, pregnancy magazines, and delights such as tangerine oil, which (so said the grumpy lady in her local health food shop) is very good for helping to prevent stretch marks in the very late stages of pregnancy i.e. the exact stage I am in now. So I’m adding this lovely smelling oil into my Elemis camellia oil to bump up it’s skin stretching qualities. This essential oil is does not only have benefits for the skin but is also thought to promote happiness and help with nervousness and anxiety. Sounds pretty good to me.