Pregnant or not, I love a good body lotion and cream. When you’re pregnant, you’re probably going to try anything to prevent stretch marks. While many people believe using pregnancy-safe lotions and creams prevents pregnancy stretch marks, it’s not necessarily true, but it can help depending on your skin type.
Stretch marks occur when the fibers just underneath the skin’s surface break apart due to the pressure of rapid weight gain. Moisturizer helps maintain skin elasticity, making it less likely to tear when your body starts expanding. That’s according to Debra Jaliman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.
Why You Get Stretch Marks
While stretch marks are a natural part of the body’s response to the rapid growth and stretching of the skin, many expectant mothers seek ways to prevent or minimize their appearance. Before I get to my favorite kinds of belly butter, I will explore why stretch marks occur during pregnancy and discuss some practical tips to help reduce their occurrence.
Stretch marks, scientifically known as striae gravidarum, are a form of scarring that appears as bands or streaks on the skin’s surface. They usually occur in areas where the skin has been subjected to significant stretching, such as the abdomen, breasts, hips, thighs, and buttocks.
Stretch marks are incredibly common during pregnancy, affecting approximately 50-90% of women for three reasons.
1. Rapid Weight Gain.
As the baby grows, the mother’s body undergoes substantial weight gain, especially in the second and third trimesters. This rapid expansion puts strain on the skin’s elastic fibers, leading to the formation of stretch marks.
2. Hormonal Changes.
During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations, particularly increased levels of cortisol and estrogen, affect the skin’s elasticity. These hormonal shifts can weaken the collagen and elastin fibers responsible for maintaining the skin’s structure and suppleness, making it more prone to stretching and developing stretch marks.
3. Genetic Predisposition.
Some women may be genetically more susceptible to developing stretch marks due to inherited characteristics like skin type, ethnicity, and family history.
How to Minimize Stretch Marks
Besides using lotion, pregnant women will also need to do other things to prevent skin changes, like drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and using a humidifier while they sleep, for example.
Again, there are no creams or oils proven to prevent stretch marks. However, keeping the skin supple may be helpful for reducing the risk in some people. Moisturizers can also help reduce getting itchy skin that happens as the skin stretches. (More on this below.)
Some other tips on preventing the appearance of stretch marks include making sure you’re getting all your vitamins. Not only is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet paramount for the growth of your baby, but stretch marks may occur simply because you’re missing certain essential nutrients.
Vitamin C, E, D, and Zinc are some of the crucial elements of a balanced pregnancy diet that can help prevent stretch marks.
While it is challenging to completely prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, the following tips can help reduce their severity and appearance:
Drinking an adequate amount of water helps maintain your skin’s elasticity and overall hydration. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day to keep your skin healthy and supple.
Follow a Balanced Diet.
Consuming a nutrient-rich diet that includes vitamins A, C, and E, along with zinc and silica, can promote healthy skin. Include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals.
Gradual Weight Gain.
Aim for a gradual and steady weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine a healthy weight gain range for your specific situation.
Engaging in safe and gentle exercises during pregnancy can help improve circulation and maintain healthy skin. Consult your healthcare provider for suitable prenatal exercises.
Applying a moisturizing cream or oil to your belly, breasts, and other prone areas can help improve skin elasticity and reduce dryness. Look for products containing ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, or almond oil.
Don’t worry, I have you covered on this below.
Gentle massaging of the skin can enhance blood flow, promote collagen production, and improve skin elasticity. Consider using a circular motion while applying moisturizer to aid in absorption and stimulate the skin.
Itching can be common during pregnancy due to stretching skin. However, avoid scratching as it can further damage the skin and increase the risk of stretch marks. Instead, try applying a cold compress or using a soothing lotion to alleviate the itching.
Remember, each woman’s body is unique, and the development of stretch marks during pregnancy should be embraced as a testament to the incredible journey of bringing new life into the world.
7 Best Body Lotions and Creams for Pregnancy Stretch Marks
With all that said, let’s get to some safe body lotions and creams that will help us keep our skin soft and smooth before, during, and after pregnancy. Some of the hyperlinks are affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you purchase any of these best stretch mark creams.
1. Hempz Natural Hemp Seed Oil Body Moisturizer
This Natural Hemp Seed Oil helps soothe inflammation and calm atopic dermatitis. Rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, this moisturizer is naturally scented, providing a crisp, clean aroma. Without any harsh chemicals, this scent leaves behind no residue, and won’t irritate your skin. The shea butter and ginseng help reduce any redness and Vitamins A, C, and E will help protect your skin from natural and environmentally triggered oxidants.
2. Lubriderm Daily Moisture Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion
This 24-fluid ounce tube of Lubriderm Unscented Daily Moisture Body Lotion with Vitamin B5 helps replenish and moisturize normal-to-dry skin. It’s clinically proven to moisturize skin for 24 hours. With no artificial fragrances and no greasy residue, you’re left with a pleasant, soft, clean, and smooth feel on the skin. Plus, this dermatologist-developed brand is the #1 recommended brand by tattoo artists for tattoo care and aftercare.
3. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Therapy Body Lotion
This 24-hour cocoa butter daily moisturizing body lotion features a light cocoa scent and provides deep hydration for all skin types, from normal to dry and even eczema-prone skin. This lotion is made with Cocoa Butter to naturally moisturize and Vitamin E helps improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and skin imperfections, giving a more even and toned appearance. It’s also vegan friendly with no animal ingredients or testing.
4. Gold Bond Healing Skin Therapy Lotion
This 20-ounce pump bottle of Gold Bond Healing Skin Therapy Lotion comes with aloe vera and three nourishing vitamins to moisturize and hydrate. The Gold Bond Healing Lotion penetrates 10 surface layers of skin deep for nourished and healthy-looking skin. It has been tested by dermatologists and is hypoallergenic.
5. Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Lotion
Jergens Ultra Healing Moisturizer absorbs into extra dry skin, including typically rough spots like heels, elbows, and knees. It penetrates five layers of skin and reduces dryness at the source. It is made up of a unique formulation, with a Hydralucence blend of ingredients combined with Vitamins C, E, and B, to leave skin luminous.
6. Curél Daily Healing Hand and Body Lotion
This lotion provides time-released hydration with 24 hours of continuous relief. It helps to restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier with daily use. The safe ingredients are non-irritating, non-greasy, and fast-absorbing. With Advanced Ceramide Complex, the lotion restores skin’s ceramide levels to help retain moisture and prevent symptoms of dry, damaged skin from returning.
7. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
This 18-fluid ounce pump bottle of Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion will moisturize dry skin for a full 24 hours. The nourishing lotion contains a unique soothing oatmeal formula that absorbs quickly, leaving your skin soft, beautiful, and healthy-looking. It’s a clinically proven and award-winning fragrance-free daily lotion for dry skin that locks in moisture and improves sensitive skin health in just one day.
My Favorite Body Scrub and Body Cream
I can’t make a list like this and not share my favorite body scrub and body cream. This is my go-to in a bath and what I buy for friends and colleagues when it’s gift time.
The brand is Tree Hut and I’m a sucker for all of their fun scents, but for me, the scrub used as body wash and body cream must match. To get very specific, I don’t buy the cream. I buy the whipped body butter. It’s thicker… like butter. Oh, so good.
Tree Hut Lavender Shea Sugar Scrub and Body Butter
Do Lotions and Creams Really Work for Stretch Marks?
Among the various products available, lotions and creams specifically marketed for stretch marks claim to be effective solutions. But do they actually work?
Again, during pregnancy, the expanding uterus and increased hormone levels can cause the skin to stretch, resulting in the formation of stretch marks. These marks often appear as reddish or purplish streaks that gradually fade to a lighter color over time.
The effectiveness of lotions and creams in preventing or reducing pregnancy stretch marks is a topic of debate among healthcare professionals and researchers. While some women swear by these products, others may not experience the same results.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Moisturizing Effect
Lotions and creams designed for stretch marks often contain ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and various oils. These ingredients help moisturize and hydrate the skin, which can improve its elasticity and overall appearance.
Keeping the skin well-hydrated may minimize dryness and itching associated with stretching skin, promoting comfort during pregnancy.
2. Genetic and Hormonal Factors
It’s important to note that the development of stretch marks is influenced by various factors, including genetics and hormonal changes.
While using lotions and creams can help improve skin hydration and elasticity, they may not entirely prevent stretch marks if you are genetically predisposed to developing them or experience significant hormonal changes during pregnancy.
3. Timing and Consistency
The effectiveness of lotions and creams may also depend on when and how consistently they are applied. Applying these products early in pregnancy and continuing throughout the entire term may yield better results.
Consistent use, combined with gentle massage techniques, can help enhance blood circulation and collagen production, potentially reducing the severity of stretch marks.
4. Individual Variation
Every woman’s body is unique, and individual experiences with lotions and creams can vary. Some women may find these products effective in preventing or minimizing stretch marks, while others may not observe significant changes.
Skin type, genetics, overall health, and the degree of skin stretching can influence how well these products work.
While lotions and creams marketed for pregnancy stretch marks may not guarantee complete prevention or elimination of these marks, they can contribute to skin hydration and potentially reduce their severity. Results may vary, and it’s essential to manage your expectations.
40 Weeks of Pregnancy Glow
I’ve already mentioned ensuring optimal health and well-being during this time is crucial, both for the mother and the developing baby.
Now, I will take you through each of the 40 weeks of pregnancy, providing what you can expect step-by-step, and make the most of this journey while you moisturize your growing tummy.
Weeks 1-12: Establishing a Healthy Foundation
- Schedule a prenatal check-up: Visit your healthcare provider to confirm your pregnancy and establish a prenatal care plan.
- Take prenatal vitamins: Start taking a prenatal supplement with folic acid to support the baby’s neural tube development.
- Focus on nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products.
- Stay active: Engage in low-impact exercises like walking or prenatal yoga, with your healthcare provider’s approval.
Weeks 13-16: Embrace Your Changing Body
- Monitor weight gain: Keep track of your weight gain, aiming for a healthy range as advised by your healthcare provider.
- Prioritize hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support healthy bodily functions.
- Supportive undergarments: Invest in comfortable, supportive bras and maternity clothing to accommodate your changing body.
Weeks 17-20: Ensuring Proper Nutrition
- Increase calorie intake: Gradually increase your calorie intake to support your growing baby’s nutritional needs.
- Focus on iron-rich foods: Include iron-rich foods like lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and fortified cereals to prevent anemia.
- Minimize caffeine and avoid alcohol: Limit or eliminate caffeine intake and completely avoid alcohol for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Weeks 21-24: Staying Active and Preparing for Labor
- Continue exercising: Engage in regular physical activity, focusing on exercises that are safe and comfortable for your changing body.
- Consider childbirth education classes: Attend childbirth education classes to learn about the labor process and relaxation techniques.
- Practice Kegel exercises: Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises to support bladder control and prepare for childbirth.
Weeks 25-28: Gestational Diabetes Screening
- Undergo glucose screening: Your healthcare provider may recommend a glucose screening test to assess for gestational diabetes.
- Monitor blood sugar levels: If diagnosed with gestational diabetes, follow a personalized meal plan and monitor blood sugar levels as advised by your healthcare provider.
Weeks 29-32: Managing Discomforts and Promoting Relaxation
- Address common discomforts: Use remedies like warm baths, prenatal massage, and proper body alignment to alleviate back pain and swelling.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and prenatal yoga to reduce stress and promote well-being.
Weeks 33-36: Preparing for Breastfeeding and Postpartum Care
- Attend breastfeeding classes: Learn about breastfeeding techniques, positioning, and the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby.
- Plan for postpartum care: Research and prepare for postpartum recovery, including support networks, meal planning, and newborn care essentials.
Weeks 37-40: Final Weeks and Labor Preparation
- Monitor fetal movement: Pay attention to your baby’s movements and report any significant changes to your healthcare provider.
- Pack your hospital bag: Assemble essentials like comfortable clothing, toiletries, important documents, and items for your newborn.
- Stay in touch with your healthcare provider: Attend regular check-ups, discuss any concerns, and finalize your birth plan.
Remember, every pregnancy is unique, so consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and support throughout this remarkable experience. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the miracle of life!
So… what are the best lotions on your list? Did I miss some of the best products that give you peace of mind?
Maybe it’s something with organic ingredients or it has coconut oil, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, olive oil, benzoyl peroxide, avocado oil, azelaic acid, lemon oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, glycolic acid, or essential oils. (There are A LOT!)
Let me know on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay and I’ll try it out.
The good news is that using the best body lotions and creams is a preventative measure that you can carry on after your first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester.
Want to know what other beauty products and skincare products I love? Click here!