During pregnancy, the word “stretch” usually brings a positive feeling for mommas-to-be. Stretchy pants. Stretchy shirts. Stretchy undies. What may not bring such a great feeling is stretchy skin. Yes, it’s inevitable that a woman’s body is going to change throughout her pregnancy and, yes, her skin most definitely needs to stretch. There’s a baby growing inside; without that stretch, poor little bub would have no room to grow.
And so that brings us to the unpleasant evidence of this stretching known as stretch marks. Otherwise known as “tiger stripes” to those who are proud to don them, stretch marks appear when your body is growing at a faster speed it than your skin is used to and, frankly, it cannot keep the pace. The fibers under your skin, as a result, break and so a family of stretch marks is born.
But maybe you are perfectly fine in your non-tiger striped body.Maybe you’ve worked hard to feel confident in the skin you have NOW. We don’t blame you. There are tons of creams and oils out there that are promoted as options to prevent stretch marks, and some well-meaning friends or family members may boast how well they worked for them. That’s great, but ultimately, genetics play a huge role in whether or not you’re destined for stretch marks.
So, where can you expect to find these new stripes of motherhood? More places than you think, actually. Here are seven common areas you may find have stretched to the point of earning you some stripes.
7 Obviously, Your Belly
o let’s just go ahead and start with the one area everyone expects to change during pregnancy: your belly. As your little bundle of love grows inside your uterus, and at a fast pace, (30 days after conception, that little embryo is 10,000 times larger than the original fertilized egg!), the area around it must grow, too.
Your midsection goes through quite the renovation within that 40-week timespan, stretching you to a point you probably never imagined was possible. You may find yourself wondering:
- - Where did my normal body go?
- - Will my body ever look the same again?
- - Where the hell are my feet?
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but when it happens so fast, your body doesn’t have enough time to prepare to be stretched out so much and so quickly. What happens next? Well, possibly around month six or seven, you may wake up and notice some pink lines running across your stomach. No, you’re not turning into a zebra. You’ve hit the time when your body is saying, “Whoa. Things are happening.”
Roughly 90 percent of women experience stretch marks while pregnant. Therefore, if you do wake up with some new marks on your skin, you are in good company.
- - If you are fair-skinned, you can expect them to appear a shade of pink
- - If you have a darker skin tone, you may find they are actually lighter than your normal skin tone.
6 Do Your Boobs Hang Low
Next up are the glorious, wonderful things hanging out (possibly literally) on your chest. Your breasts. Boobs. The Girls. Whatever you call them, they are going to get bigger, and it is going to happen fast.
Sometimes going up as many as three cup sizes in a matter of a few months, your breasts take on a new persona while you are pregnant and, hell, some of you who may have previously been cardholders to the Itty Bitty Titty Committee may be thrilled!
- • You’ll want to jump for joy when you see them starting to grow.
- • Then you will not want to jump.
- • Seriously, no jumping. Never ever. Ouch.
So, just like your stomach that is growing a baby, your breasts can, too, develop stretch marks from this rapid growth. They can appear at the base or side of your breast, or if you are really lucky, they can go all the way around your breast.
Now, we know that if your mom and grandmother, your aunts, cousins and sisters all got stretch marks, you will probably get them, too. But, if you would like to try to prevent them while you are pregnant, especially in the boobs, you can try to eat a balanced diet and keep yourself hydrated. Wearing a supportive bra may help, too, to prevent them from pulling down throughout the day.
Not to undermine your intelligence here or to be a complete cloud over your sunshine, but just to be sure you know, after you have your baby, your breasts most likely will not be the same as they were pre-pregnancy. Even if you do not plan to breastfeed, those ladies still grow and grow like it is their job, and likely will not stay that big after you have your baby and things settle down. Like your boobs. They will settle down.
What do you do if you no longer recognize your boobs? Now is the time to consider purchasing yourself a nice push-up bra to give the girls a boost of energy. If you want something more permanent, there are most definitely options for you, too.
5 Wrinkly Butt
Picture this: one morning, out of a glimmer of awesome fate, you wake up feeling great. You’re not nauseous! You did not throw up! You only got up to pee two times throughout the entire night! Things were going your way. Until you stripped down to take a shower. And you looked in the mirror. Then you saw them. Thoughts include:
- - What. The. F---.
- - Is my ass really that much bigger?
- - No more twerking for me.
Stretch marks on the bum. Yup. There they are, those lousy bastards.
Sometimes pregnancy has a way of making you expand in areas other than those you had originally planned on. Bigger belly? Well, that’s a given. Bigger boobs? Hell yes (or if you were already well endowed, hell NO). Bigger butt? Does the universe just have it out for pregnant women?
There is an old wives’ tale that states that if you gain weight in your butt while pregnant, you are having a girl. There may be some validity to this, but we’d be willing to guess there are many moms reading this sitting on a rear with more cushion for the pushin’ who are either carrying or have had all boys.
The fact of the matter is, and we think this is actually pretty cool, your body is trying to store some fat, protein and other nutrients in order to help you produce milk for breastfeeding (if you plan to do so) your baby. Actually, seven pounds of your overall weight gain could be specifically related to nutrient storage.
And, the plus side is that supposedly, the fat stored there should be easier to lose after baby than it would be if it were gained in your abdomen. If not, we say embrace the booty. No one ever in the history of music ever wrote a song about a flat butt.
Of course, as a result of your becoming Ms. New Booty, you may gain some stretch marks on your butt. We know, it sucks. As with your stomach, you can work out, and squat your way to a high, tight rear if you like. You can also try rubbing in some cocoa butter on a daily basis to help them fade (if you are at the point where you feel 700 months pregnant, have your significant other help with this – they won’t mind).
4 And Then, Your Arms
A lot of women take pride in a nice, set of toned arms. Hey, we can’t deny that shapely triceps are pretty darn sexy so, if you’ve got them, get down with your bad, toned self. If you do not, we love you too, of course.
We also can’t deny that with the weight that comes on during pregnancy, sometimes, that weight is gained in your arms and, well,those arms take on a new shape (you’re still sexy, though, don’t worry).
Should this happen to you, you might find stretch marks in one of the following areas of your arms:
- - Armpit
- - Bicep
- - Upper arm/shoulder
This is something you can feel self-conscious about, and we understand that. Stretch marks on your stomach, boobs or butt are easy to hide; it's not like you are walking around with your goodies out for show (or, are you?). If you feel uncomfortable because of your stretch marks, you can always dress yourself in a way to keep them covered with a long-sleeved shirt or adding a cardigan to your outfit.
What if you happen to be pregnant through the summer? Or, maybe you live in a hotter climate? If you are extra lucky, you will get stretch marks on your arms during one of the hottest summers known to happen, or you live in a place that considers most “mild” temperatures freezing.
Our guess is that if this is you, you won’t give a flying you-know-what about other people’s opinions, and we think that’s the right way to go. Do what you need to do in order to feel comfortable and cool. Forget the naysayers.
“But, what about my beautiful arms?” you say, wondering if your hard work will now be wasted because of potential marks you couldn’t prevent.
Just like the other areas, these marks will fade. And, if you feel you would like to get your toned arms back (or get them for the first time!), you can always find some great exercises online if you are not already a member of a gym. Additionally, babies become heavy. Lifting them in their infant car seats, or even on their own, will bring a burn similar to that you’d get from swinging a kettlebell.
3 When Thighs Make You Cry
You know how your butt gets just a bit, or maybe even a lot, bigger as the tiny human inside you grows from the size of a poppy seed to a cantaloupe? Sometimes, when that area grows, the area that holds up your butt gets bigger, too. You might begin to notice your upper legs, specifically your thighs, have decided to join in with your butt and increase in size, too (how nice of them, right?).
We all know the drill by now, lady friends. Quick weight gain can lead to earning a few new stripes.
Stretch marks can appear on your thighs during the sixth or seventh month of your pregnancy. You know, right around the time you really start to feel awesome about yourself and are, perhaps, beginning to feel like pregnancy is getting old.
If your stretch marks are higher on your thighs, they probably will not be too hard to conceal:
- - You can opt for longer shorts if it is warm
- - Skirts to your knees willalso do the trick
- - Or pants, of course, as long as you are comfortable
This brings us around to our dilemma about those of you who deal with warmer temperatures. Maybe you have a babymoon planned at the beach and want to wear a cute bathing suit, in all your pregnant glory.
If you are not worried about showing off your stretch marks, then get some sun and enjoy the sand! However, if you feel you would rather keep them to yourself, you can still wear a cute bathing suit, but we suggest finding a suit that has a skirt, or even investing in a nice wrap.
The same tricks can be used to try to prevent these annoying marks from showing up, and if you want to add a few exercises into your daily routine throughout your pregnancy, that could be helpful, too.
After baby comes, you can begin some more rigorous workout routines if you want to add some muscle and help improve the overall look of your legs. And, of course, someday down the road you may be chasing after a toddler which, let’s face it, is a pretty decent cardio workout.
2 Hip Hip Hooray, No
Since we have already found a great geographic area of your body to talk about, we are going to go ahead and stay in the central region for our next area you may come across stretch marks. We have already covered a lot of your body, and you know that your belly, butt, boobs, thighs and arms are not safe from stretch marks. It is okay if you are scratching your head, squinting your eyes and wondering:
- - Isn’t that enough?
- - What else could there possibly be?
How about your hips? No? Yes?
For a lot of women, the lower part of their bodies tend to grow to help hold up the added weight of their baby, and all the fluid he or she is hanging out in. Maybe this is true, maybe it is not, but from what we have seen (and experienced!), that lower area seems to spread out as your belly stretches further and further beyond belief. It makes sense – you would not build a huge house without a strong foundation, would you?
Pregnancy can really do a number on your hips, as you may already be aware from certain aches and pains you might be experiencing. As you go throughout the months with your baby growing, your body releases a hormone known as relaxin, which softens and helps to open the joints in your pelvis to help you prepare for childbirth. The down side is that it can also cause you to feel a little wobbly on your feet, so be careful, please!
So you want to try to prevent getting striped hips? Okay, we don’t blame you. We won’t talk about creams, hydrating or oils again (dangit, we just did!), but we will reiterate that you can do some exercises to help keep your hips healthy through your pregnancy. These may even help you with positions for childbirth, which, hey, any help there is welcome.
If you do get stretch marks on your hips, this is an area you can keep covered up without feeling like you need 25 different layering options. As they fade over time, you might not even feel too badly about donning a bikini (or putting on some fancy lingerie – if you are feeling up for it).
1 Back It Up
Did you think we were finished? Unfortunately, we are not.
We're really sorry; at this point, you probably think you are going to turn into one, huge stretch mark from your head to your toes while pregnant. Rest assured, we are fairly certain that something like this cannot and will not happen to you. What we do want you to know, though, is a final spot where you might find stretch marks: your back.
Think of it this way, if you have been putting on weight throughout your pregnancy, and you notice it is going all over your body as opposed to just one, centrally located area, the skin on your back is probably going to be effected by that, especially your lower back and maybe even into your sides.
If we want to be positive, these stretch marks are easy to conceal, like those on your butt or your thighs. They might pop out when you bend over and your shirt rides up, but if anyone is really checking you out at that moment in time, they are to blame for the free show.
Later on in your pregnancy, say, around the 8th, 9th or even 10th month (yes, you are pregnant 10 months!), there is a lot of weight from your baby, placenta and amniotic fluid coming from your uterus, pulling on your sides and your back. Pain in this area is a common complaint among pregnant women, and there are many ways you can try to prevent it.
- - Try to stand with good posture.
- - Wear flats instead of high heels (you’re still a fashionista, we know).
- - If you need to lift something, squat to do so instead of bending over (but know your limits!).
- - Sleep on your side.
- - Use a warm or cool compress.
- - Do gentle physical activities (walking, prenatal yoga, stretching).
- - Get a prenatal massage, if you can!
Otherwise, you can try to strengthen your lower back with some slow exercises meant for pregnancy. Arm and leg raises are a great option. Once your baby is born and you want to begin exercising again, you have to start slowly, and pelvic tilts are a nice way for you to ease your body back into a condition for a more rigorous exercise routine later on.
Stretch marks aren’t the most pleasant thing to think about when you find out you are pregnant but, for some, they are inevitable. While we know you probably don’t want to think about how your body will change over the course of your pregnancy, we figure it is better to have a heads up before you are blindsided.
Hang in there, ladies. If you get them, it really is not the end of the world. They will fade, you’ll still be a sexy mama, and you will have a beautiful baby to show for it all. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll look at your new body with its “tiger stripes” and see them as a reminder of how freaking awesome your body actually is, and if not, did we mention there’s a cream for that?