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How To Beat Stretch Marks For Good

Among the most common of all pregnancy-related skin problems is undoubtedly stretch marks - those deep red, sometimes blue lines that can occur not only on your tummy, but also on your breasts, upper arms, hips, thighs and even your buttocks.

Medically known as striae gravidarum, they usually begin in the second trimester, frequently starting at the navel and fanning out over your abdomen in what a pregnant girlfriend of mine now refers to as her "personal beach ball" pattern!

While the folklore on how to prevent stretch marks has practically become a cottage industry, the reality is, there are only a few factors that are capable of influencing whether or not you experience this problem.  First and foremost, is your heredity.  If your Mom had stretch marks - or if you had them in a previous pregnancy - then you're a prime candidate now. Ethnicity matters too.  While African American women are the least likely to experience stretch marks, natural blondes with light complexions are at greatest risk.

The good news is there are also some factors related to stretch marks that you can control. So, even if you are prone to this problem, there are ways to decrease your risks - starting with watching your weight and keeping extra pounds under control.

Excerpted here from "Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy" by Colette Bouchez (Doubleday/Broadway, NY 2/10/04), there's some real good information to be had!!

Also important is keeping your overall body complexion well hydrated, particularly your stomach and breast. This is especially important if you are gaining weight quickly. Because skin that is supple and soft has more elastic qualities, you are less likely to experience stretch marks if your skin is well moisturized.

While from a cosmetic standpoint almost any product that is good for dry skin is great for belly moisturizing, it's also important to remember that the more a product is absorbed into the skin, the more likely it is that tiny capillaries - already dilated from pregnancy - can pick up ingredients and carry them into your bloodstream and eventually, to your baby. This can be especially disconcerting if you are using product containing a lot of chemicals and especially preservatives. While what you retain will be exceptionably small and not much cause for concern, whenever possible doctors recommend that during pregnancy you choose the purest, most natural skin care products possible, particularly for use on your stomach.  One product that can give you all the moisturizer properties you need without any risks is pure cocoa butter.

While there is no scientific evidence to show that it prevents stretch marks, generations of women have proven that it does appear to have some preventative properties.  This all- natural fat derived from the cocoa bean is known to have superior moisturizing properties and is able to keep skin moist and conditioned enough to avoid stretch marks. The key, however, is find as close to 100 percent pure cocoa butter as you can get.

And remember, Bouchez says that for those of you already experiencing stretch marks, it's not too late to lubricate!

Stretched skin that is kept supple and soft is far more likely to return to normal once your pregnancy weight is lost - and any stretch marks you do experience are far more likely to disappear on their own, usually beginning two weeks after you deliver. 

Preventing Stretch Marks - Naturally!

If you let her, Mother Nature could be your skin's best ally during pregnancy.  Some of the most skin-quenching products you can use, are those you make yourself with ingredients that can be found right in your kitchen.

What Bouchez suggests you try:

1. Two tablespoons of honey in a warm bath can draw moisture to your skin. If you're a shower girl, bring a plastic squeeze bottle of honey into the tub, and after tummy is wet, squeeze a little honey directly on your belly and rub in. Let it remain while you continue your shower and rinse off right before you're done

2.  Make your own all-natural cocoa butter by heating equal parts of grated cocoa butter and coconut oil in a microwave until melted.  Stir well, let cool and apply generously on your tummy, hips, buttocks, breast and arms.

3.  Soak a clean, white cloth in small dish of warm milk, squeeze out and apply the compress to your belly for up to 15 minutes. Re-dip several times, and reapply as needed.

This and more in "Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy" found at!


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