This post is from contributing writer Liesel Teen, @mommy.labornurse on Instagram. Liesel is a labor and delivery nurse and creates great content helping mamas during pregnancy and postpartum.

Pregnancy is a time for glowing, growing, preparing, and waiting for your sweet newborn to arrive. Yet, on the nine-month journey it takes to grow your bundle of joy, a lot of changes happen to you physically. And I’m not just talking about that adorable bump.

Pregnancy stretch marks are a reality for a lot of mamas. If your own mama had stretch marks during pregnancy, the odds of you getting them is even higher. What you may not know is that there are some things you can do to help prevent stretch marks in the first place!

I’m Liesel, a Labor and Delivery nurse and today I’m excited to share three daily habits to prevent stretch marks. As an added bonus, these tips will help you have a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy, too!

So whether you’re a first trimester mama looking to prevent stretch marks before they start, or you’re hoping to minimize the appearance of stretch marks on your already growing belly, you’re in the right place!

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is one of the best things you can do for your overall health during pregnancy. There are SO many benefits. Drinking plenty of water prevents constipation, ensures that essential nutrients are being transported to your baby, helps with the production of amniotic fluid, AND can help prevent stretch marks.

What does hydration have to do with stretch marks?

When you are well-hydrated your skin is softer and more elastic than dry skin. This means that as your body changes and your skin begins to stretch, you may be less likely to develop stretch marks.

Aim for ten 8 oz. glasses of water per day to start. But if you’re still feeling thirsty, you exercise regularly, or the weather is especially hot, drink more! You really can’t overdo it, and hydration is super important.

2. Apply Cream

Just like hydration plays a role in keeping your skin soft and increasing its elasticity, applying belly butter or skin oil has a similar effect! By moisturizing your growing bump, you can help prevent stretch marks from forming in the first place. As an added bonus, it will prevent an itchy tummy––which can be a common discomfort during the third trimester!

What you may not know is that you can start applying stretch mark cream to your bump before you even have a bump! It’s great to make this a part of your daily routine as early in pregnancy as possible to keep your skin soft and supple.

And don’t think it’s just for the tummy! Some mamas are prone to stretch marks on their arms, thighs, hips, boobs and booty during pregnancy, too. So be sure to apply it liberally all over.

We like this one from Earth Mama.

What to look for in a stretch mark cream?

Prevention is key to pregnancy stretch marks, erasing them after the fact is a lot more challenging! But how do you know which stretch mark cream to get?

• Any thick, heavy moisturizing cream will be effective – it doesn’t have to be for stretch marks explicitly (but those are great!)

• Consider fragrance – many have a more sensitive sense of smell during pregnancy, a light scent or fragrance-free may be the way to go

• Avoid creams or lotions with Retinoids (Vitamin A)! It is unsafe in pregnancy because it’s been linked to birth defects when taken orally

• Consider a natural, organic or hypoallergenic formula – these will be non-irritating and potentially safer for you and baby

• Look into skin care oils! These are just as effective as a cream and many are non-greasy and won’t clog pores

3. Incorporate Exercise and Eat Right

Aside from keeping your skin soft and well-hydrated, another key aspect for stretch mark prevention is targeting a healthy weight gain. This will look different for different mamas depending on your weight and activity level before getting pregnant. If you haven’t already, discuss this with your provider at your next prenatal appointment!
To help achieve a healthy weight gain, you should emphasize a healthy diet that’s full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Additionally, aim for moderate exercise 3-5 days per week. This might be in the form of a brisk walk, swimming, or prenatal specific workouts – like in the Juna App!
In addition to preventing stretch marks, a healthy weight gain can help keep many pregnancy discomforts (such as back pain, fatigue, and swelling) at bay. And when you stay active throughout pregnancy (especially with exercises designed for pregnancy) you may have an easier birth and postpartum recovery.

Add these habits to your daily routine right away!

By adding these tips to your daily routine, you’ll be doing a lot to prevent pregnancy stretch marks from forming.

Like I mentioned earlier, stretch marks are often hereditary and for some mamas, can’t be avoided entirely, but the right habits can decrease their intensity or deter them entirely in some cases.

Here’s to a healthy, happy, and comfortable pregnancy, mama!

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