Pregnancy, it’s a time of great joy and excitement as you anticipate the birth of your beautiful little angel. It’s also a time of great weirdness and confusion, as your body changes in ways you never thought possible.

We hear a lot of pregnant women asking, “am I going to get stretch marks?” And, unfortunately, the answer is probably yes. Many pregnant women do get the dreaded stretch marks after the 6th or 7th month.

But that doesn’t mean you’re totally powerless to stop them! There are things you can do to prevent, or at the very least minimize, stretch marks during pregnancy. We’re going to share with you some of the tips, tricks, and products other moms have used to successfully treat theirs.

But first, a mini stretch mark lesson. Stretch marks (or striae) are just a fact of life, especially when you’re busy creating a freaking human being inside your body. The lines you see are actual tears in your dermis that happen when your body grows faster than your skin can keep up with. Stretch marks tend to appear on your tummy and breasts, the two areas that grow the most.  

While there is no sure-fire way to completely prevent stretch marks from happening, there are things you can do to reduce their likelihood and severity.

Stay Hydrated!

You want to be sure your body is well hydrated, both inside and out. Dehydration is not good for your skin, so be sure you’re drinking plenty of water. 

You also want to keep your skin hydrated and supple (to promote elasticity) with lotions, creams, or oils. Popular choices moms swear by include coconut oil and lotion, vitamin E oil, olive oil, Bio-Oil, shea or cocoa butter. Added bonus, the oil or lotion will also help reduce some of the itchiness mamas-to-be complain about on their burgeoning bellies.  

Try Tummy Butter

Many moms swear by this product, which is made from organic, pregnancy safe ingredients. The base is pure cocoa butter, blended with 11 organic oils. It’s also rich in vitamins A, E & essential fatty acids. Tummy Butter helps promote collagen and increases cell regeneration for firmer skin. As an added bonus, it has an orange-chocolate scent which is pretty yummy! (Just don’t eat it.) You can find Tummy Butter online at The Spoiled Mama.

Diet And Exercise

Diet and exercise can also play a factor in reducing stretch marks. Exercise improves circulation, which keeps the skin elastic and more able to stretch as it grows.

Collagen and elastin fibers in the skin are necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut. The stronger the fibers are, the less likely they are to break and leave stretch marks. It makes sense then to eat foods that are rich in Vitamin E and C, zinc and silica, which help to form collagen.

Another name for collagen is gelatin, so getting more gelatin in your diet can help too. Drinking real bone broth or supplementing your diet with high quality collagen protein powder from grass-fed cows are good sources of gelatin.

Treating Stretch Marks After Birth

If you couldn’t totally prevent stretch marks during your pregnancy, you’re not without options! After your baby is born, you can fade the marks to make them less noticeable.  

Start treating the marks right away, when they are still in their reddish stage. You can try a gel made with a mix of onion extract and hyaluronic acid (designed to help fade the marks).  

You may also want to talk to a dermatologist about getting a prescription retinoid, which can speed up new collagen growth. Keep in mind, you can’t use a retinoid if you’re breastfeeding.

Other options to reduce the appearance of stretch marks include lasers and dermabrasion, both can be done by a dermatologist. It may take a few sessions to see real results.

Or, you can embrace your stretch marks, like this Instagrammer. And accept the little lines as happy reminders of the beautiful baby you carried. It’s all part of the experience of motherhood!