Apparently there is no concrete research that proves that applying body lotions, oils or butters during pregnancy has any impact on reducing or preventing stretch marks.
However there are a multitude of products out there that promise you that they will leave your tummy and breasts stretch mark free after you have grown a baby inside of you.
Anecdotally however, I would say that they do work. As every patient of mine who has managed to come out (relatively) stretch mark free has sworn by putting lotion on after every bath or shower!
And so whilst the Physio in me knows that there is no hard evidence, I just feel that I have to make the best effort possible with reducing the potential damage from this rapidly growing tummy of mine.
I've never been particularly good with putting body lotion on regularly so adapting to this ritual has taken some getting used to.
I also think that when your body is changing so much in weight and shape, you can become a little disconnected from yourself. And so I'm also using this daily ritual to help me (try to) embrace my changing figure! I also try and consciously 'connect' to the baby while doing so. Either speaking out aloud or in my mind to the baby.
A few people recommended bio oil to me. But my friend Lisa who is a guru in all things skin product related long ago warned me of the hidden horrors in the ingredients in bio oil.
Now if money is no object to you, then there are some amazing all natural and organic products available to you.
But if you are like me and don't have hundreds of pounds to spend each month on beauty products, then you may find some of the below recommendations helpful.
Upon the recommendation of Google, I started with using this Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter. It smells lovely and has a great consistency. It is packed with natural oils and contains none of the nasty ingredients that you want to avoid putting on in the vicinity of your baby. I really loved it, but at £23.50 for the 120 g tub (120 ml), when I ran out of it after 3 weeks I decided to try and find a more affordable alternative. (I was planning to keep the empty tub of Mama Mio to include in the picture for this post but I must have ended up throwing it away on our move! Sorry! The packaging is lovely).
After some more internet research, the next time that I ordered a tub of the Mama Mio, I also ordered a tub of this Derma Mum stretch mark cream. It is also made primarily with natural ingredients and is free from petrochemicals. At £12.25 for 500mls, you can't really beat it for value for money! Initially I was using the Mama Mio after my morning shower and then the Derma Mum in the evenings. I really like the consistency of the Derma Mum and it has almost no odour which is great when you are pregnant and struggling to tolerate smells! (I couldn't even handle wearing perfume for the first 6 months as it made me feel so sick!) I would say that the Derma Mum has been my favourite of the products that I have tried and I would really recommend the Derma Mum cream to anyone. There is also an oil - but I don't like the greasiness that I've experienced with trying other body oils so haven't tried it. I would say that the Derma Mum has lasted me about 10 weeks.
I was also given a tube of this Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage cream for stretch marks by a friend. It is paraben free, and when we went to Chamonix I packed it as it was far easier than taking my 500ml tub of Derma Mum. I really like the consistency of the the cocoa butter, but I can find the smell a little overwhelming! There is NO ways that I could have handled putting this lotion on in the first few months! But if you are used to using cocoa butter and like the smell then this could be great for you. At £4.40 for 100g it's not as affordable as Derma Mum but better value than the Mama Mio oil. I also tend to sweat more with this product on than the others - but that may just be me.
I popped into Lush a few weeks ago (there is NO ways I could have handled the olfactory overload of their stores in my early pregnancy) and asked what products they have for reducing stretch marks. The shop assistant (very correctly) told me that not getting stretch marks is mainly down to good luck and genetics, and said that whilst they don't do a specific product, she recommended I try one of their massage bars. Lush is renowned for having all natural ingredients and is anti animal cruelty too. She recommended I try the Therapy massage bar. It's about the size of a bar of soap and costs £6.50 for the 50g. At room temperature it is hard like soap, but once you start rubbing it over your body then it releases an oily residue. The smells of the essential oils in the bar are quite subtle (especially for lush) and I like the mixture of lavender and sweet orange that you can smell as the oil binds to your skin. I find the whole experience can get a little greasy though and I have to ensure I have a few minutes before getting dressed to allow the oil to dry off a little. I also have to wash my hands with soap afterwards as otherwise I feel that all I touch afterwards is covered in oil! If I am in a hurry to get dressed or dying to get into bed I don't use the bar. But once a week after a bath I use it over my whole body and it feels great.
I hope that this has helped you a little, and remember as you are loving your body and connecting with your baby, to rub the lotion (or bar) from above your breasts, over your breasts, tummy, side and buttocks and over your upper thighs!
So far I am (fingers crossed) stretch mark free over my belly. Please may that continue, and may genetics and luck be on my side (and your side) too!
And if I do get some stretch marks, I will know that I did my best to avoid them!