How to (potentially) avoid stretch marks

Stretch marks. Those lovely little 'souvenirs' that show our bodies have grown a tiny human for nine months. Or not so tiny, if my growth scans are anything to go by. 

I was pretty keen to avoid having an abdomen that looked like the London pages of an A-Z of Britain, and moisturised religiously from the second I discovered I was pregnant. I was pretty sure I would get them as I'm a believer that, when it comes to stretch marks, you either get them or you don't. And I do. I have plenty of silvery lines on my hips and boobs from rapid weight gain and loss over the years, so I was convinced I'd be a dead cert for a tiger tummy. 

BUT I haven't got any this pregnancy. The Internet tells me that they can come on even in the last weeks of pregnancy, so I'm not counting any farm birds just yet, but with two days to go I may just escape. 

None of this might have anything to do with any products I did or didn't try, but just in case it has, here's a run-down of what I used. 

Body Shop Body Butter 
A firm favourite for me pre-pregnancy, I really like the ones that are specifically for dry skin (I find the normal skin ones a bit greasy), especially the olive variety. I used to love the shea butter one, but after slathering it on my exceptionally burned legs on holiday this year, just the smell of it gives me PTSD-style flashbacks. This isn't the cheapest moisturiser on the market, but nor is it anywhere near the most expensive, and it lasts for ages. 

Sanctuary Mum To Be Collagen Boosting Bump Butter and Stretch Mark Oil

My lovely friend Nel was gifted these when she was expecting her baby, and never got around to using them, so kindly passed them on to me. I really liked these, the body butter has a thick and creamy texture that absorbed easily into my skin, and both had a pleasing smell that reminded me of babies (in case you need reminding you're pregnant as you rub cream into your baby bump). The pots I had were fairly small, so the oil in particular didn't last too long, but that may have been my less-than-frugal application. 

Pregnacare Stretch Cream
Ew ew ew. Just...gross. I'm not sure what they put in this to make it smell so bad, but...ew. I can't really comment on its effectiveness as I couldn’t get past the smell. It smells medicinal, and not in a good way. Like fungal cream or something you might be prescribed for thrush, but with added ickiness. Maybe it's one of those smells that some people love, but I am definitely not one of those people. If you are, the plus points are that it rubs in fairly well, and the moisture lasts all day. Sadly, it also has a tendency to congeal around the cap into an off-putting yellowy gunk. More ick. Thankfully it isn't too expensive, so I don't feel too bad that I've hardly used it. 
L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Lotion 

Another old favourite that I often use when not pregnant, this is great as it's quite thick but soaks well into your skin and lasts well. Unfortunately, as it's quite thick, it doesn't last long, especially when I'm slathering it all over my bump and hips once a day. It's also not that cheap,but definitely worth it. 

Secret Saviours Anti Stretch Mark System 

First the honesty part. I was given this in return for attending a focus group to talk about stretch mark products. However, I wasn't paid in any way for writing this review, so I can be as honest as I like. Pros - the USP of the Secret Saviours system is that it combines a day gel, a night cream and a bump band, which has sticky patches that are meant to diffuse the tension across your bump and minimise stretch marks. I liked the gel and the cream - the gel is a little sticky, but this is deliberate to help the bump band stay in place. The night cream is really nice, and also smells pretty good. Cons - I didn't get on so well with the bump band. It was lumpy, which isn't great under maternity clothes, which tend to be jersey and fairly tight. The band was also a little tight (even though I went for a medium) and narrower at back than the front, which isn't a great design, as I felt like it was rolling up all the time. I took it off after a few hours and haven’t been able to bring myself to try it again for longer than an hour or so at a time.
Aromatherapy Associates Nourishing Enrich Body Oil

Not a stretch mark-specific product, this was a guilt purchase I felt obliged to buy after a pregnancy massage Matt bought me. I'm one of those suckers that, when faced with a beauty therapist 'recommending' a product, I get guilted into it and find it really hard to refuse. Yup, pushover. This wasn't cheap at £39 a bottle, but it was worth it - it's great for all over your body, especially if you're suffering from dry skin. I bought it just after our dreadful holiday, when my skin was crying out for moisture, and it definitely delivered - it transformed my scaly legs back into normal skin in no time. One pump goes a long way, so it does last quite a while and it smells great. I wouldn't use this as a daily moisturiser due to the price, and I don't think my skin needs an oil every day, but it's great as an occasional, more intensive treat. 

I don't know if any of these contributed to my lack of stretch marks, but I'm glad I used them just in case they did. Pregnancy has been the only time in my life I've got into a decent body moisturising routine, and I'm really hoping I can keep it up afterwards as I've definitely noticed a significant difference in my skin. Overall, I think I prefer moisturiser/body butter to oil, but with an oil on hand for some more intensive moisturising value when needed. 

And, of course, I shall, take this all back if I suddenly sprout a mass of purple worms across my stomach tomorrow. Apologies in advance. 

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