Let's face it, pregnant women have lots on their plates, literally. They eat much more than they typically would, and this coupled with a rapidly growing baby inside their abdomen causes their bellies to grow much faster than their skin can keep up. Those not so lovely red, pink, brown, and sometimes even purple bands that pop up when this happens are called stretch marks. Stretch marks occur when the elastin fibers that are just below the skin break, resulting in lines varying in color. Many believe stretch marks are hereditary and can be prevented by drinking lots of water and gaining weight slowly, but still a hearty 75 -90% of women develop stretch marks during their pregnancies.
These "tiger stripes" can appear on the belly, breasts, thighs, buttocks, and just about anywhere there's skin! Most women find that after giving birth their stretch marks fade to white or gray but they never really seem to go away. Also, the more times a woman gives birth, the more “zebra print” she is likely to have. While stretch marks can be itchy, and for some downright embarrassing, they are also eternal evidence of a woman’s entrance into motherhood. For a woman carrying a child, everything is different, their bodies change rapidly before their eyes, their emotions become unbalanced as hormonal changes take place, and they have entirely new reasons to worry about everything. Most of the time, those worries have nothing to do with their stretching skin.
Here are 15 times stretch marks were the least of mom-to-be’s worries…
Pregnancy cravings can hit out of nowhere and cause women to eat some pretty strange things. From the well-known longing for pickles and ice cream to much stranger combinations like hot Cheetos dipped in peanut butter, some experts say these strange desires are the body's way of signalling a need. A woman who is frantic for French fries may need sodium or potassium. If she her insatiable lusting is for an ice cream Sunday, her body may need fat or calcium.
The further along she gets in her pregnancy the hungrier women report being - the problem is, the bigger the baby gets the less room there is for those jalapeño poppers dipped in strawberry jelly. Now that’s something to really worry about…
During the later phases of pregnancy, woman often feel the giant nature of their "situation." So, when her pregnancy jeans don’t even fit comfortably anymore and all she can wear is that same dress over and over again, it’s not very likely that you'll find her in the mirror frowning at her skin. More than likely, her main concern is covering up as much of her bump as possible.
Weight-gain is a normal aspect of pregnancy, with doctors suggesting women at a normal starting weight, gain between 25-35 pounds. While at first it can be thrilling to shop for cute pregnancy clothes, there comes a point in every pregnancy that cute is thrown out the window and comfort becomes key. When mommy can no longer see her feet to check if her socks match her muumuu, she probably isn’t too concerned with her stretch marks.
The third trimester is full of excitement for moms-to-be, it’s the final stretch of a long interesting journey, and the days until they meet their new child are counting down quickly. However thrilling the final trimester may be, it's also particularly uncomfortable. The most uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms in the third trimester have nothing to do with pink and purple lines.
The issues that top the charts, time and time again, have more to do with physical symptoms and less to with the aesthetics. Aches and pains in the neck, back, and legs are complained about most often, followed by a raging appetite with no room for food, and a new-found lack of bladder control. Women with aching backs, and constantly feeling Braxton hicks, are rushing to the restroom to PEE not muse over their stretch marks.
Did you know that up to 90% of dads-to-be experience pregnancy symptoms right alongside mom? Some men gain what’s kindly referred to as “sympathy weight” from eating the same new diet their partners are enjoying. Dads-to-be may also balk at the idea of having sex, afraid of hurting mom or baby. They can even suffer mood swings and anxiety bouts! Moms-to-be soon realize they are not the only ones who will be welcoming a new child. The dad, although doing much less of the “prep work,” will ultimately have his life changed forever too, once the new baby is born.
This adjustment can take a toll on dad as he tries to make sense of all the changes happening before his eyes. Besides, it’s hard to sit next to someone chowing down on pizza and fruit loops at 1 o clock in the morning and not join in. It’s also a little difficult for mom to fret over her stretch marks if dad is already taking up the mirror looking at his!
Mom's-to-be are constantly worried about doing or eating something taboo, that is something culturally frowned upon for a woman carrying a child to do. These taboos, or something that is widely considered normal in any other circumstance, like dying her hair, can cause a mother-to-be to question everything she does and eats. Sometimes these taboos are backed by research that can differ with the wind. Take drinking wine for instance, where in America it is now a definite no-no, but cross the blue waters to Europe, and most women not only enjoy small amounts of alcoholic beverages with meals, some say doctors actually recommend it.
These conflicting stories are often very confusing, and widely different standards can make a pregnant woman very worried. Adding on to this jumbled mess is the stuff she may do by accident. Maybe the Caesar salad dressing on the salad she just scarfed down had raw eggs in it! Or did the cooked sushi she enjoyed 3 servings of, touch any of the raw sushi everyone else was eating? Trying to eat and do everything right to protect her growing child is far higher on her list of worries that her “tiger stripes.”
Most women appreciate any help they can get during their pregnancy and especially when they bring home the baby. Although for some, the control over their lives that they must give up is an especially tough endeavor. From a mother-in-law moving in, to the new hire that will be taking her place at work during her time off, this relinquishing of authority over some areas in her life can be extremely worrisome for mommy-to-be.
Hopefully she can focus in on the fact that the people who are coming in to work, cook, and clean in her place are there to help. Mothers-in-law are especially wonderful when they are holding and feeding a newborn, allowing the new mommy to get some much-needed sleep. The cute, younger girl at work, taking over her duties for six weeks is much more appealing when mommy needs an extra week at home. And a freezer full of crock-pot ready meals will calm a new mother much more than a jar of the newest miracle stretch mark cream!
Most things that change on a woman’s body during pregnancy usually return, somewhat, to their original form. Take a woman’s breasts, you would think, with the way they burst at the seams during pregnancy and breastfeeding that she would forever-after be rocking a double lettered bra. But eventually, after the milk dries up, those ladies slowly but surely return to something much closer to their original size. Even a woman’s lady parts that stretch unspeakably to accommodate the birthing process don’t stay that way (thank God!)
But one thing many women find that changes forever after pregnancy is the size of their feet. One study found that for most women (60%-70%), their feet became wider and longer during pregnancy, and stayed that way! Nobody can see the stretch marks through her clothing but a few people may notice she now shops for shoes in the men's department.
The top three times women notice their baby's movements are: after eating, when feeling nervous, and at the top of the list, when she settles down at night. So, when most people are catching some Zzzs, namely dad-to-be snoring away peacefully beside her, mommies tend to be wide awake due to the fact that their babies are noticeably more active. For some women, it feels like their babies might be taking a spin class, or an especially upbeat Zumba course. It’s all cute and sweet and part of the especially wondrous process of pregnancy but sometimes mommy just wants to sleep.
Doctor's visits for pregnant women can have a variety of emotions attached to them. Some women feel depressed when they hear news they weren’t expecting or see a number on the scale way out of their comfort zone. Some even feel fear about what’s to come when the due date draws near. Some women feel anxious during all the routine testing required during pregnancy.
And one emotion that’s felt clear across the board is awe as moms hear heartbeats and see glimpses of their babies in ultrasounds for the first time. So even though they are sprawled out in embarrassing fashion with paper robes barely covering their bodies, moms have a lot of other things to process than wondering if the doctor can see her stretch marks.
There are not too many things women worry about more than the well-being of their child while they're pregnant and after their baby is born. She may question herself constantly during pregnancy. Is she eating the right stuff? Did that sneeze scare the baby? Will the baby be okay during labor? Is the Tylenol she had to take for her back going to hurt the baby? The questions never end. The worry never seems to subside because moms-to-be have all heard the horror stories, and while some are nothing more than urban legends; some are frighteningly true.
Most pregnant women wish people would spare them the spooks, but often people come out of the wood works to talk about the terrible stuff they have heard or seen as soon as they learn they are with child. So, women often choose to worry instead of feeling confident that carrying a baby is what a woman's body was made to do. Even women who trust themselves and their bodies to handle pregnancy find themselves filled with worry the second the baby doesn’t move for two hours (or so she thinks). She will be on the phone with the nurse’s line and chugging cold sugary drinks before you can blink. Stretch marks don’t affect the baby what-so-ever, and baby is mommy’s number one priority.
As pregnancy nears its end, it doesn’t take much to start the trickle... A laugh, a cough, even bending to pick something up. Anything can place just the smallest amount of pressure on an already hemmed up bladder and cause moms-to-be to basically live in the restroom. Some feel the embarrassment frequent urination may bring on, while many women laugh about it, and some women even say they should have considered owning stocks of pads, panty liners, and adult diapers during their pregnancies.
It can also be incredibly frustrating to rush to the restroom only to have two small drops tumble into the potty, as feeling the need to go is often amplified over the reality of a barely full bladder. Most moms late in their pregnancy cannot even think about water without needing to get to the bathroom immediately. So, it seems that while the skin is stretching around the stomach, the bladder seems to be shrinking, now that’s something to ponder.
During the final weeks of pregnancy, a little gas, an upset stomach, even a backache can send a woman straight to the ER thinking she is in labor. Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labor pains, can even start as early as the second trimester for some women. Although BH are not known to be a sign of labor, or even a sign that labor is about to begin, they can certainly make a woman think something big is happening.
The differences between true and false labor are as follows: BH are usually not painful, they don’t happen at regular intervals, or get closer together. BH also may stop with a change in activity or position, and do not last longer as they go on, or feel stronger over time. True labor as many women who have experienced it will tell you, does not go away. It gets bigger, stronger, and longer until....pop goes the weasel!
While many (if not all) women fret over their bodies before going to the beach or pool, a woman carrying a child is thinking less of her looks and more of the relief she will get once she gets her body in the water. Swimming is one of the best things for a momma-to-be to do. From relieving her achy body to calming her thoughts, the weightlessness that she feels floating in the water is priceless.
The constant pressure, that is incredibly difficult to relieve the farther along she gets, seems to dissipate the moment she enters the water. The water is not only great for relief, but is also a fabulous way to get in some much-needed exercise that won’t irritate already overworked and overstretched muscles. Plus, after the baby arrives, she still won’t be worrying about those stretch marks as much as she will be worrying about her child getting sunburnt or too close to the water.
There are so many things to think about for a woman doing the deed during pregnancy. Where does she put that huge belly? In which position will both her and her husband be able to breathe? Is this hurting the baby? Moms may go through millions of questions in their head, many of them having nothing to do with how her skin looks. While dad is just happy to be “getting some,” because let's admit it, it’s been ages since they were intimate and he is just happy to be in out of the cold. For all he cares she could be covered in “tiger stripes,” it would probably just encourage him to growl…
Even before giving birth, the chemical make up of a women's brain changes when she becomes a mother. Therefore, the entire earth shifts the moment a new mom meets her child for the first time. Those first cries, the first look at the tiny hands and feet, and seeing her child's small delicate face for the first time mean one thing to a new mom: it's not about her anymore. The only thing that matters is protecting, caring for, and raising the person for whom she's acquired her stretch marks and waited 9 very long months to meet.