I’ve taken to lying in bed, slathering myself in oil or body butter and declaring that I am “basting the baby” – much as you would a perfectly browned roast chicken. I guess technically, the baby-baking process is probably more akin to a slow-cooker method…moisture-sealed environment, long cooking time and whatnot. The basting analogy is much more satisfying. And I look forward to my belly button popping out like the timer on a Butterball turkey.
It’s all in the name of preventing stretch marks, which is apparently all in vain, since there is absolutely zero evidence that any of these products can actually prevent stretch marks. Sigh. I just can’t accept that.
I get it. Stretch marks don’t happen at the surface level of the skin, they are actually tiny tears in the middle (dermis) layer as your skin stretches with weight gain. So nothing we rub on externally is going to prevent these tears in the supporting tissue underneath.
Evidently, it’s largely genetic and you’re either predisposed to developing stretch marks or you’re not (like cellulite, in my observation). If your mom got them, you probably will too. So…women who say they used “X product” and didn’t get stretch marks probably wouldn’t have gotten them anyway. Damn hey? Except my mom didn’t get many and they quickly went away so, yay genes! The speed of your weight gain has something to do with it, as do hormones. Some people get stretch marks because their bodies produce more corticosteroid than normal. This hormone decreases the amount of collagen in the skin, and collagen is the protein that helps those deeper skin fibres stretch elastically without breaking down.
Facts be damned. These stretch-mark products are seductively lovely and I still want to cling to the notion that I have some control over the outcome of 40 weeks of bodily abuse. Plus, your skin gets itchy as it stretches and nothing scratches that itch like spending money on body products. In my defense, there is some evidence that exercise (boring!) and massage (bingo!) may help with stretch mark prevention by encouraging new tissue growth and promoting circulation. As can drinking tons of water (back to boring) and getting lots of vitamins A, C & E, zinc and silica in your diet (zzzzz).
So far I’ve gone with these: the Clarins Tonic Body Oil and the Neal’s Yard Mother’s Balm, alternating between them as the whim strikes me.
The Neal’s Yard is rich and solid, but melts into a nicely spreadable texture that goes a lot further than you’d think. It certainly smells good enough, but the Clarins….sweet baby Jesus, it’s like instant spa all over your house as soon as you open the bottle. It just smells expensive – and so it should. Plus, when I went to the Clarins counter, the nice lady in the white lab coat warmly congratulated me and gave me a ton of little samples of other products (a few décolletage/bust things, a stretch mark minimizer lotion…other things I can’t remember because I did this in week 8 or something) along with a nicely produced book (not a booklet or a brochure, mind you – a full-on book) on pregnancy according to Clarins (also sorta pictured above) and all sorts of advice on product usage. It’s interesting, because the brand doesn’t go out of its way to overtly market this product to pregnant women, but it’s kind of a cult favourite that everyone and their dog (online) swears by. At any rate, when the pregos do come flocking to the counter, they are certainly prepared for them.
So far so good on the belly…although I do have a few marks on my boobs. I got those within the first few weeks of pregnancy and I have some leftover from when I got boobs the first time around. I think I am just prone to them in that particular location…but the new ones have definitely faded already.