The Dreaded “S” Word…

For all my preggers friends out there, this post is for you. It doesn’t take very long into your pregnancy for this dreaded topic to come up- stretch marks. Veteran moms will take it upon themselves to tell you about their battle scars and pregnancy blogs will warn of the impending doom. If you are anything like me, I dreaded them- and for good reason, since stretch marks run in my family (thanks dad). So, immediately after I found out I was pregnant, I set out to find out the truth about stretch marks and what I could do to avoid them. After weeding through a TON of information, all of it pointed to one, very discouraging conclusion- they are unavoidable. If your skin type is prone to stretch marks, then you will likely get them. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. The most encouraging advice most pregnancy blogs offered is that they fade over time. Again, not what I wanted to hear- isn’t there some magic potion or something?

That’s when I turned to my mom, who we affectionately call the family witch doctor. She has a tonic or brew for just about anything. She gave me the following recipe and told me that if I was consistent, this would give me the best fighting chance against stretch marks. She used it throughout all her pregnancies (5 total) and swears by it. I had nothing to lose and decided to give it a try.

Before giving you the recipe, let me offer one word of warning: it smells. When I went through this nauseous stage, this brew just about did me in. Over time, you get used to it. I found essential oils helped immensely.

Okay, you will need 3 products: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter (available at Wal-Mart or Target), Wheat Germ Oil, and Almond Oil (both available at the Vitamin Shoppe). All are moderately priced, around $6-$8. The good news is they will last you a couple months. You will also need a clear bottle, I found one in the travel section at Target for $1.

This blend of oils packs a serious punch: vitamin E, olive oil, almond oil, and lanolin oil. The wheat germ oil helps prevent and improve scarring. Unfortunately, that’s the one that smells, and gives the brew a weird yellow color. Still, if it works, it’s worth it!

The ratio I use is 1/2 cocoa butter, 1/4 almond oil, and 1/4 wheat germ oil. Sometimes I throw in a little olive oil for good measure. So, get the clear bottle ready…

First pump the cocoa butter in. I found that it mixes with the oils better if it goes in first. Why, I don’t know.

Next, the almond and wheat germ oil…

And finally, if you like, you can add some essential oil in to make the smell a bit more bearable. I chose French lavender, since one of my dream getaways is Southern France. It makes me smile just thinking of it.

This is what you will get. Lovely, I know. The price we pay for beauty!

Shake vigorously. WARNING: be sure to put your finger over the lid- otherwise you may inadvertently spill the lotion all over the place. Been there, done that. This is what the finished product will look like:

Use twice daily, preferably after showers when your skin is still moist. I apply it to my chest, belly, sides, lower back, bum, and thighs. I cannot guarantee that it will work, but to date (knock on wood) at 35 weeks, I am stretch mark free. In summary, the best guidelines I have found to prevent stretch marks are the following:

1. Gradual weight gain. Try to keep your weight gain steady with good diet and exercise. Sure, there will be weeks where the scale jumps up a few pounds. But for the most part, after the first trimester, aim for about a pound a week. By having steady weight gain, it allows your skin to adjust to your expanding waistline.

2. Stay hydrated. Water will help the elasticity of your skin and is excellent for the baby. 8 – 10 glasses a day girls!

3. Use the brew. I think this lotion/oil combination has been beneficial. I never have dry, itchy skin and am giving myself every chance to avoid stretch marks. Do not wait until you are showing- the earlier you start the better! I think I started using it around 7 weeks. The key is to be consistent, applying it morning and night.

4. If stretch marks appear, remind yourself of why they are there: a precious life is coming into this world! It is a small price to pay for the years of joy you will have with your precious child. That’s all that really matters.

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