Are we STRETCHING the truth? (aka An Attempt to Offend Every Woman)

Be sure and check out our GIVEAWAY while you're here.

There seem to be two approaches in the Western alternative-medicine world right now regarding stretch marks - preventing them or embracing them. The one side claims to have figured out how to prevent them through eating whole foods, fat, restricting vegetable oils, etc. The other side wants you to embrace your "mommy tattoos" and redefine beauty as a women who is stretch-marked. 

I take issue with both. 

To those who claim you can prevent stretch-marks during pregnancy...


I was very strict with myself during pregnancy. I ate extremely healthy (Note: What I define as healthy is a diet that imitates our traditional societies--one high in animal fat and protein, with copious amounts of vegetables, fermented, probiotic-full foods, minimal grains and minimal sugar. Essentially  the nutrient-rich diet of traditional cultures as identified by Dr. Weston Price in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration)

 I followed the "real-foodies" advice. I was not doing this specifically to avoid stretch marks (though I was thinking that would be a plus) but in order to give my baby the best start I could on life. 

I got stretch marks. 

Not a lot, but some. I know women who ate all the "wrong" things during their pregnancies and didn't. 

So what's going on here? 


Here are my thoughts on it. I didn't grow up eating "traditional food" - my mother was part of the generation who were lied to about "low fat diets" and believed that fast food restaurants weren't that bad for you. I am not claiming that I ate terribly as a child. I didn't. I just didn't eat a nutrient-dense diet like I strive for now. (Mom, if you are reading this know that I don't blame you for this. No way. Oh, and I love you. A lot.

It wasn't until I was in high-school that I began to look into nutrition. I had HORRIBLE periods. I would literally be bed-ridden for an entire day - only getting up to puke in the bathroom while having diarrhea at the same time. Yes. Lovely image, I know. My doctor recommended I go on birth control (I think I was around 13...) to solve all these problems. Even as a young teenager I thought my doctor was nuts. So, rather than take her advice I began to change the way I ate. 

And it made a HUGE difference. 

Not every month, mind you, but most of the time. Sometimes the horrible periods would come back--but typically I could tie that to stress and extra sugar-consumption (which comes first, ladies? the chicken or the egg? the sugar binge or the stress?).

Since high-school my awareness of how important food is for our bodies has been slowly, but steadily growing. I have been far from perfect in my eating habits, and eating healthy, like all good things in life (marriage, being a parent, etc.) takes a serious commitment. 

It's not over until it's over


I went over eight months without getting any stretch marks. I thought for sure I was 'in the clear'. Then, a few weeks before Little Owl was born, I got what are known as "dropping stretch marks". I feel like that is pretty self-explanatory, but essentially when Athena dropped, my skin had to stretch and stretch fast. I got some stretch marks below my belly button. 

I'm not ashamed of my body. 

Far from it. I am very proud and impressed with what it could do to grow and nourish a whole new being. 

I am not 'proud' of my stretch marks. 

I do not think they are beautiful. I do not think they prove my womanhood. I do not flaunt them. But I also do not hide them. I do not think they are what make me a "real woman" or what prove I am a "tiger" who has earned her stripes

You would almost think they want women who don't get stretch marks to feel bad--like they are less of a real mother, less or a real woman.

Perhaps if I had never eaten a single potato chip in my life, if my mother had eaten traditional foods, and her mother before her, I would not have gotten stretch marks. I don't know. Maybe.

Am I a failure?


I feel like putting the pressure on women to do a list of things during their pregnancies to prevent stretch marks is too much. I could easily have viewed myself as a failure. (Was it that side of tortilla chips I ate that gave them to me? Was it that week I ran out of cod liver oil? Was it that one day I ate a Carl's Jr. hamburger because I was starving at the airport and couldn't afford to buy a chicken salad for thirty dollars??) 

No, no, no. 

I believe I went into my pregnancy with skin that was going to stretch, no matter what I did. Perhaps, with my diet I limited the"damage". Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps. 

Working towards the future


What I want to focus on is giving my daughter the healthiest experience I can--both in and out. Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally. For her sake, I am not going to view myself as ugly or bemoan my "pre-baby" skin. For her sake, I am going to continue to strive to eat healthy. 

Perhaps when she is ready to have kids, her nourishing childhood will prevent her from getting stretch marks. Then again, perhaps not. As a culture we have been eating unhealthy for years now.

It's quite likely that it will take a few generations to redo what has been undone. But, that doesn't mean I am not going to try. And it also doesn't mean I am going to pretend that something that isn't inherently beautiful, is. 

What is beauty?


It's beautiful that I carried my baby for nine months. It's beautiful that she grew inside me and was born surrounded by love and sunshine. It's beautiful that I am accepting the changes that her presence has given me and will give me. It's beautiful that my baby loves and adores my despite my imperfections. 

But, the stretch marks themselves are not beautiful. 

What book changed my entire perspective on nutrition? See it here.

Do you have stretch marks? How do you feel about them? Share your thoughts with me. 



Like what you read? Be sure and follow LittleOwlCrunchyMomma on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and Google+.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. Meaning  if you shop around after purchasing them you are helping support my blogging endeavors. Thank you!)

37 comments:

  1. I love your perspective, Jackie. As you know, I had HG and ate sugary cereal and crackers for the first 20 weeks, and then started eating closer to a WAP diet for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn't get any stretch marks, but I guessed it was just genetic or something. I always feel a litte out of place, lol, because this tiger apparently didn't earn her stripes. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sara! <3 You have DEFINITELY 'earned your stripes', momma! ;)

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing! What a unique, down to earth perspective. I am glad I read this before having a baby. It is a great reminder of what is more important.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Same thing kind of happened to me. I didn't get any stretch marks that I could see. Now I was in the hospital on bed rest the last 6 weeks, so I could have missed them cause my bathroom mirror was not full length. It wasn't until I got home that I saw a few on the sides.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were on bed-rest the last six weeks! So sad. That must have been really intense. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hope you are having a good week!

      Delete
  4. i have massive stretch marks all over my boobs, bum and lower stomach. I had gestational diabetes in pregnancy and one of the symptoms is a huge amount of amniotic fluid which meant my bump was pretty huge and I guess my skin just couldn't handle it. But hey. They are there. So is my beautiful child and my husband doesn't seem to mind so they don't bother me. But yeah I don't love them, they aren't my tiger stripes, they are just a fact of life - like wrinkles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love, love love! Thanks for sharing. "yeah I don't love them, they aren't my tiger stripes, they are just a fact of life - like wrinkles"--couldn't agree more!

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Stretch marks sure are sneaky. I didn't think I had any, but that was only because I couldn't see the bottom of my belly. I only had a few, and they faded really quickly. And I really didn't mind! I've never been a bikini babe though, so there was no loss there LOL
    Visiting from the Sunday Parenting link up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are sneaky, aren't they!? I am not a "bikini babe" either but I think I will still feel comfortable in a two piece--with or without stretch marks. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!

      Delete
  7. I have stretch marks due to my illness. the medication made me really fat in less then three months and my body wasn't ready or used to my new size. but I don't think about it very much. although I agree with you :) I'm visiting from Sunday Best. wishing you a happy week ahead :) xxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ana! Thanks so much for stopping by. Sorry to hear about your illness. Hope things are okay now! Thanks for sharing. Hope you are having a great week! <3

      Delete
  8. What a wonderful perspective. At 73, my sagging stretch mark still remind me of my three wonderful births. I embrace whatever by aging body gives me. Each day is a gift. genie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Genie! I appreciate it. The world needs more role models like you! <3

      Delete
  9. I don't have any stretch marks on my belly after my two pregnancies, however, my breasts have marks along them from the rapid increase/decrease in size!!
    I love your approach to this because I too am unsure if women should have to be in one camp or the other. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crazy! Ever body, every woman, every baby is so different! Thanks for sharing YOUR thoughts! <3

      Delete
  10. If you stretch the skin out of it's usual proportion for 4 months, one might get stretch marks. I haven't really thought too much about it. Just the way it is.

    Interesting post. Thanks so much for sharing at Your Sunday Best.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's a lack of gelatin in the diet. Yeah, I have my stripes and earned them, but I wish my trophy wasn't so visible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Jenny! Thanks for stopping by. A lack of gelatin? I have to research that more. Where did you find out about that? Any good reading suggestions?

      Delete
    2. Mommypotamus did an article on the gelatin and stretch marks...or
      http://honesttogoodnessliving.com/the-secret-ingredient-you-need-to-battle-stretch-marks-have-glowing-skin/

      Delete
  12. What about those of us who have them and haven't had children? To say they're a badge of honor from carrying a child isn't true.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My story to the tee, EXCEPT I have no stretch marks. I had 3 children, both my sisters did get stretch marks, one of them pretty bad.
    To each their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "To each their own". Yes. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week! <3

      Delete
  14. This is so great! Always refreshing to get the "other side" on topics like this. Mommas all over the world have been "earning their stripes" for centuries, but they're internal stripes that can never be seen, not some little, insignificant blemishes on their skin... Thanks for the "feel good" post and for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have stretch marks all over the sides of my hips, from when I grew curves during puberty. So I know my skin WILL get them. But during the pregnancy, I used an entire tub of Palmer's Tummy Butter. I didn't get any belly stretch marks. (And I didn't eat GREAT, either.) I assume rubbing emollient into the skin several times a day may help? (and I'm sure that's not even the best product I could have used for that purpose.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post! So refreshing. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is very well written. I got tons of stretch marks during pregnancy, and I have many leftover from puberty. My sister is the same way but my mom didn't get any stretch marks during her 6 pregnancies. Even the genetic theory isn't concrete. Maybe I got my grandma's skin? Who knows. My baby is definitely worth it though!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What you wrote about awful periods, ignoring your doctor's advice, and the evolution of your views on nutrition - reading that I felt like I was reading my story! And, we have the same first name to boot! No kids yet, so we'll see regarding stretchmarks....
    (Sidenote: do you also find that people cannot pronounce your name...or is that just my own experience?)

    Thanks for your post! Excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I got a lot of the 'drop' stretch marks towards the end because I never got really large during my pregnancy. My pregnancy was the only time I ever really ate 'healthy' and even that is a stretch. I had -no- appetite throughout my pregnancy and the HCg jump-started my non-existent metabolism to the point where I lost weight instead of gaining during the first 2.5 trimesters, though to be honest, I was overweight to begin with. I would binge eat on fruits (strawberries and peaches mostly) and I've always had low blood sugar so I would curb the drops in blood sugar with a quick candy bar or juice drink during the hours I was working since I didn't have the luxury of sitting down with a nice salad or similarly 'healthy' option. At the first weigh-in post-partum, I was the lowest weight I had been in three years. It's nothing to brag about, since I am still overweight, but at least it's a start. One thing that makes me happy is that the stretch marks are going away on their own gradually. All the ones above my belly button are gone and the ones lower than that are fading quicker than I thought they would. I do believe that they are in-part genetic. I have a quick rate of healing and I almost never get scars to begin with, and my diet is very far from healthy. I love the perspective and eating healthy is ALWAYS the way to go, whether your goal is to void stretchies or simply provide the best you can for your baby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Jen! Love to hear other mommas' thoughts and experiences. "eating healthy is ALWAYS the way to go" Amen, sistah! :) Hope you are having a fantastic week!

      Delete
  20. I have to admit, I have thought about this. I am a single mom, and in my vanity, hope to date again someday. I wonder if I will be be able to date someone who has never been married or around a pregnant woman, if he sees my stretch marks. Yet, I loved being pregnant and loved my body during, I just don't know how to feel about the stretch marks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Beth,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Any real man who loves you will love you for who you are... all of it. No one is perfect going into a relationship (looks or otherwise!).

      Props to you for loving being pregnant (sometimes I feel we are the few!) and for your honesty with yourself about your stretch marks, too. I feel ya, sistah!

      Hope you have had a good week.

      <3

      Delete
  21. I'm so happy to finally stumble upon your website, I find a lot of helpful stuffs here in your site.

    Check my site too: http://www.beststretchmarkcream.co

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yea ya know, screw everyone else. Pfff! I remember doing all these things to prevent stretch marks. Still got them and a lot of them. I find when I listen to my inner high school girl self (who, thanks to our glorious big boob, skinny waist, flawless skin media bombardment, will always be inside SOMEwhere) then I feel flabby and gross. When I center and think for myself, I feel good. I'm not sure that I feel beautiful and glorious but I'm not trying to, I just feel ME and happy with me. I'd trade in my belly button (I mean, really- what IS that thing now??), stretch-markless skin and perky bewbs for my kids any day of the week. And my husband still finds me to be a beaut so, I'm good! My kids find my belly to be a source of amusement too; like just hilarious. Their laughter is contagious so I end up playing and laughing right along with them ;)

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me oh so happy! Feel free to comment away. I'd love to hear what's on your mind