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Prevent Stretch Marks With Nutrition

The first lesson of the Beautiful Babies online course goes live today, and I’m giving you an inside look into today’s class. Each week’s lesson will feature a positive birth story, and this week’s is amazing. In the following excerpt from her story, you’ll learn how this mom prevented stretch marks with nutrition. And not only that, she was carrying twins!

But first, I need to announce that I’m extending the $50 savings for early registrations through November 15th, 2012! I’m motivated by the upcoming Wise Traditions conference. I’d like the fine folks I meet there to be able to get in on the savings, if they want to. (WOW! I can hardly believe that the conference is just two weeks away.) So, if you were hoping to enroll but couldn’t do so in time to get the $50 discount, you’ve now got two more weeks!

Now, back to preventing stretch marks. In our culture, we accept stretch marks as a given. We’re told by our OBGYNs that our skin is either elastic, or it isn’t. If it’s elastic, you get fewer stretch marks. If it’s not elastic, you get a belly full of them. And, we’re told most women will get stretch marks, no matter what they do to try to prevent them.

Well guess what? You can prevent stretch marks. Wanna know how? By increasing the elasticity of your skin! And that’s done through (you guessed it!) nutrition.

In the following excerpt from Angelina’s story, you’ll get a tale of two pregnancies. In the first, she was young, practiced poor nutrition, had massive amounts of stretch marks, and had a rocky birth that ended with her daughter in the NICU for 10 days. In the second, she was 15 years older, pregnant with twins, and had been eating well for a number of years. Her full story is 7 pages long, beautiful, and details the wisdom she accumulated through the birth of 4 children. Thanks, Angelina, for sharing!

I have had four babies: two hospital births and two in a birth center.  Of the two hospital births, one was an intervention-laden OB assisted birth and the other was a natural midwife assisted birth.  The two in the birth center were twins, born naturally with the assistance of several midwives. 

My first birth was one month before my 20th birthday.  I was young and clueless about nutrition.  I enjoyed the freedom to satisfy my pregnancy cravings at whim, which included a lot of junk food.  A big bowl of Cocoa Puffs was a fairly typical meal for me.  When my water broke three weeks early (poor nutrition!), I went to the hospital.  I knew nothing and submitted to every order my OB gave.  Since I had not started labor on my own, I was given Pitocin.  The contractions started very quickly.  I had never experienced pain of this kind in my life.  Every 2 minutes for 14 hours, I had violent contractions, the kind I can now only liken with those a woman has in transition, and honestly, none in my subsequent pregnancies were ever as brutal as those Pitocin contractions were.  The saddest thing to me is that as a woman, those contractions were more than I could take, but what about the baby who is being wracked from every side, for what must feel like an eternity?  Knowing what I know now, I would never again submit myself or my baby to such torture.  To finish the story, after several hours I was given an epidural and the rest of labor was easy for me.  After many hours, I was told that I would most likely have to have a c-section since I wasn’t dilating as they had hoped.  Thankfully, though, at the 14 hour point, I managed to dilate and efface enough to deliver on my own.  I couldn’t feel my legs or hips, so pushing was challenging, but I did it.  I was given the usual episiotomy (thankfully not as routine these days) and then had to be sewn back up (crudely) after the birth. 

Fifteen years and another child later, I found out that I was expecting again – twins.  I found that carrying twins was much more difficult than carrying one baby.  Actually, I didn’t know I was carrying two babies until my first midwife appointment when I was four months along.  THAT was the surprise of my life!  Thankfully, I found an amazing midwife (we had only moved to Texas the month before I got pregnant) who would support me in having a truly natural (nobody pushing meds and IVs) birth.   She told me on that first visit that sufficient protein intake is one of the most important things I can do to grow big, healthy babies (and strong bags of waters).  A minimum of 150 grams per day was my goal.  By this time in our lives, I knew about raw milk, pastured eggs and grass-fed beef (all organic, of course!), so eating well was simply a part of my life.  Eating this much protein was not, but I made it my greatest goal.  As the babies grew, in fact, and took up all of the space in my abdomen, it was all I could do to eat this much protein every day.  But I did!  

Thankfully, I was able to give birth to the twins naturally in a birth center assisted by midwives. Julia was 6 lbs 3 oz and Annelise was 7 lbs 7 oz (wow!).  Here I had been nervous that they would be 2 or 3 lbs since they were born at 37 weeks!  Eating all that protein really paid off!   These were healthy babies, thank God.  And I am one richly blessed mommy!

With my first pregnancy, although I only gained 25-30 lbs (standard for me during pregnancy, with one baby anyway!), my breasts and thighs were riddled with stretch marks.  However, with my second and third pregnancy, even after having twins and growing an enormous belly, I never got a single stretch mark.  Good nutrition is key!    

And just to cement my stretch mark comment, here is a picture of me at the end of the pregnancy.  I still marvel!  The human body is amazing!  Blessings, Angelina  :)

Want to know more about which foods can help increase your skins elasticity? (Hint: foods high in collagen, Vitamins A C & E, and balanced in Omega 3:6 ratios). Get the full scoop inside the Beautiful Babies Online Course. We’ll cover preventing stretch marks in Lesson 5 when we cover the Traditional Fertility and Pregnancy Diet.

(photo by wendkuni)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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18 Responses to Prevent Stretch Marks With Nutrition
  1. Kasi
    November 1, 2011 | 12:36 pm

    Can’t wait to get started! Hope you post somewhere when the email goes out – being in Europe, I’m never quite sure what time to expect something to go live.

  2. Jenniffer
    November 1, 2011 | 2:49 pm

    I have been eating “real food” for a little over two years now and about 6 months before my current pregnancy I was very strict – no sugar, no grains, basically nothing processed and lots of good protein. I am now about 19 weeks pregnant and since about 8 weeks I have had the hardest time with everything I was eating before and mostly the protein and veggies. Any advise on this? Protein (chicken, red meat, etc) by itself now makes me gag just thinking about eating it and ribeye used to be my favorite meal! The veggies are almost as bad. Before I was pregnant, half my plate was always some sort of veggie and now it is a struggle to get 1-2 servings in a day. I mostly crave “comfort foods” and cannot get away from cereal. Luckily I am in love with all dairy products so I have been eating lots of cheese and drinking my raw milk :) I have been worried about the health of my baby and am hoping to find a way to get better nutrition in while I can. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • Angelina
      December 31, 2011 | 3:02 pm

      I just want to mention, Jenniffer, that for the first trimester of my pregnancy with the twins, I was SO ill that I not only lost 17 lbs in the first 4 weeks, I literally ate almost nothing. I prayed for the baby(s), didn’t know it was twins at that point, a lot! Somehow, they not only survived, they thrived. I think you need to let your body lead to some point and try not to worry too much about it all. If you can eat the good stuff, then do. If you simply can’t, eat what you can and bless it to your body. You know enough to make wise choices when you are able. You and your baby will do great!

  3. Annie
    November 1, 2011 | 4:33 pm

    I was on the Real Foods diet before getting pregnant but recently I did an allergy test and found out I’ve become intolerant to dairy, beef and eggs. All of these are super foods for pregnancy and great sources of protein! Any suggestions of how to get enough protein with this constraint? Thanks!!!

  4. Lori @ Laurel of Leaves
    November 1, 2011 | 5:44 pm

    What a beautiful story! Thanks so much to Angelina for documenting her journey and sharing it :)

    • Angelina
      December 31, 2011 | 3:03 pm

      Thanks so much Lori! Believe it or not, I am just seeing my story here for the first time. Glad to hear it blessed someone!!

  5. Marianne
    November 1, 2011 | 9:01 pm

    I am on my fourth pregnancy and learned about the wonders of the WAPF at the beginning of my second. My third pregnancy we had some personal crisis/famine and my diet was not at all what it should have been. I guess I share this because I too, have had no additional stretch marks in any of my following pregnancies. I have always assumed it’s because I haven’t needed any more stretching after the first (where I gained A LOT of weight). I am a thin woman, 135 pounds and 5’7″

    I would love to hear testimonies from women who have truly never experienced stretch marks.

    • Elainie
      November 3, 2011 | 1:00 am

      I have had 6 children, the first two (twins) born at home when I was 24 years old. They were 7 and a half pounds each (one was 7.6 and the other 7.8) and at the time I ate a macrobiotic diet. I had no complications and a short labor (4.5 hours). No stretchmarks. The next pregnancy age 29 I had just found out about NT and followed a typical NT diet (with grains)- I gained a ton of weight during that pregnancy but had a short labor (1.5 hours) and the borth was painless. Even though I gained 60 pounds (my normal weight is 105-110 and I am 5’6″) I had no stretchmarks. Next pregnancy at age 33 was paleo. I gained 12 pounds and had a 4.5 hour labor and no complications although I had back labor like I had with the twins because she was posterior. Next pregnancy age 37, ate raw goat dairy otherwise paleo, gained 35 pounds- was in labor for 3 days (early labor) and then a 3.5 hour active labor- like the others a home waterbirth another healthy baby with a wide face.
      Next pregnancy age 44, ate primal diet with dairy going off dairy 6 weeks before I was due (baby came almost 2 weeks late on my 45th birthday) another homebirth- this time labor was a fast 44 minutes and was 100% painless maybe because I used a hypnosis for birth CD from the time I was 16 weeks pregnant and listened to it twice daily? In any event that baby was my largest 8.9 and the healthiest birth. He’s got a wide face and is now 3 months old and thriving on my usual Jersey cream milk. No stretchmarks even though I gained 40 pounds with him. I should also mention the last 4 babies were conceived on one try- I used to be infertile when I ate a grain based vegan diet. It took me 2 years to get pregnant with the twins and that involved a diet change (I added some grass fed meat and fish but kept the grains) and herbs/acupuncture. The other babies I was already eating a good diet and even at my ripe age of 44 was able to have a healthy pregnancy/homebirth/ and beautiful healthy baby.

      • marianne
        November 5, 2011 | 11:03 am

        Thanks for sharing your story Elaine! We too have been highly fertile and had healthy babies – just never heard of anyone truly avoiding stretch marks. I appreciate your story and will pass it on when I talk to new moms!

        • Elainie
          November 8, 2011 | 7:52 pm

          marianne,
          I think it’s due to genetics though, I also have no wrinkles and not one grey hair and same with my mother who certainly doesn’t eat well. Also I don’t eat perfect and enjoy some gluten free treats I make here and there, some coconut milk ice cream etc;

          Good luck on 4th pregnancy, I love being pregnant and especially birthing my babies, nothing like it in the world.

          • Angelina
            December 31, 2011 | 3:09 pm

            Elainie,

            I respectfully disagree. I think genetics play some role but not a great deal. My breasts and back still have plenty of stretch marks from my first pregnancy, at age 19. My other two pregnancies, at ages 34 and 36 (the second being the twins in this story) left me with not one single stretch mark. And I have heard many similar stories…women who live on junk food diets while pregnant ending up covered in stretch marks. I have several friends who have twins (as well as lots of single babies) and great nutrition and they are all stretch-mark free. I don’t think it is a coincidence.

  6. b eecalive
    November 1, 2011 | 10:23 pm

    love the story…. I found out about WAPF eating before i was pregant and the accidently got pregant and tried to follow it the best i could. but the cravings did get so bad for the junk like cereal! prehaps these cravings are caused by something that is lacking in the body?
    I did however come out with minimal stretch marks, so i do like to the the liver, broth and coconut oil helped out a bit.

  7. Elle
    January 24, 2012 | 3:45 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering if the stretchmarks you got from your first pregnancy ever went away?

  8. Heidi
    May 21, 2012 | 9:10 am

    Hmmm, I ate paleo/WAPF while I was pregnant (and had eaten GAPS for 1.5 years before) – lots of protein, raw milk, tons of eggs, and I still got stretch marks. I’ve had friends who’ve eaten tons of junk food before and while pregnant and don’t get a single one. Explain? Also, almost everyone I know only gets stretch marks the first pregnancy – not subsequent ones, because the skin is already stretched out.

    I’m all about eating nutritiously but I think that promising women that they won’t get stretch marks if they eat a certain way not only isn’t true for all women, but puts a certain amount of guilt on women who DO get stretch marks.

  9. Michelle
    February 19, 2013 | 3:27 pm

    I think we’re all designed differently, so nutrition can help some while others prevent stretch marks and others are impervious to them no matter what they consume. There are a couple anecdotal scenarios I can give that I’ve noted that may or may not be supported by additional data:

    First, is a note on genetics. My younger sister and grandmother have both survived melanoma and had numerous surgeries to remove the cancer and other moles. My grandmother, who doesn’t eat superbly (and even has diabetes) and has had many invasive surgeries, is virtually scar-free while my sister has many scars from less invasive surgeries and eats a much more healthy diet. Of note, doctors do marvel at my grandmother’s ability to heal and my sister’s horrible “scarring”. This isn’t quite the same as stretch marks, but scars are scars, and our bodies’ abilities to heal should correlate.

    Second scenario is a note on hydration and skin care based on my own experience with being pregnant. During my first pregnancy, I did not follow a traditional diet and ate pretty poorly in fact (albeit I ate a lot and gain 50 pounds!), but I only sustained one stretch mark (during labor). During my second pregnancy, I have followed a traditional diet and am already seeing a few stretch marks (ugh).

    In my personal scenario there is one thing I believe that has caused my stretch marks: water intake and skin care. I literally drank 1-2 gallons of water a day during my first pregnancy whereas in my second, I have been barely getting in my 64 ounces daily. My little sister also does not drink a lot of water, conversely my grandmother does. The other difference between my pregnancies is my skincare regimen; during my first, I was religious about applying pure vitamin e oil twice a day and I’ve slacked in doing this for my second.

    So, for some, perhaps nutrition is the ultimate contributor in preventing stretch marks, but for others (and me) maybe it’s water intake and skin care. Another thing to consider would be the time between pregnancies. My sons are about 20 months apart, so I’m curious if my skin was able to “recover”. I’m sure many a smarter people can refute that assertion. Nonetheless my excuse for stretch marks this pregnancy is lack of hydration and good skin care, not my nutrition.

  10. Jen Qualls
    December 27, 2013 | 6:55 am

    I am 50 years old with much older babies, 20 and 24. As I was pregnant at age 25 and 30, I worked hard on the exercise front and lots of fish and fruit. I had a certain amount of weight I wanted to gain. I never gave into any cravings even tho I had a handful of snack crackers everyday. I am proud to say that I made it thru both births without any stretch marks.

  11. Rebekah
    January 16, 2014 | 11:43 am

    The link at the bottom is not working for me, I am really interested in this information!

  12. Minerva
    September 23, 2014 | 9:52 am

    The key to researching stretch mark elimination is to manage expectations.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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