The Most Successful Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Stretch Marks

In the third trimester of pregnancy, most women get stretch marks as a result of the drastic gain in weight. While there are many methods to prevent their appearance, the most influential factor in the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy is genetics. And once the stretch marks have made their appearance it is almost impossible to make them completely disappear. Yet there are ways to make them fade. Here are the most recommended ones. Remember, the earlier you begin to apply them, the more effective they are!

IPL Treatment

Sessions with Intense Pulsed Light are a highly effective post-pregnancy treatment for your stretch marks if they are still red. Although there is no evidence yet that IPL treatment affects pregnant women in any way, most clinics and salons avoid treating pregnant women for extra precautions.

Pulsed dye laser

Only choose this option if your stretch marks are still red. Treatment with a pulsed dye laser device will not completely eliminate stretch marks, but it will make them appear more faded.

Prescription creams

Body creams based on retinoids (derived from Vitamin A) and glycolic acid increase the elasticity of your skin and can have visible effects if applied in the early stages of stretch marks. However, you cannot use retinoids while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor for a custom recommendation.

Exfoliation

Choose a natural exfoliator that is gentle with your skin and use it once or twice a week. Through exfoliation, dead cells are removed and your skin cells renew faster. You’ll also have a softer and more radiant skin.

Moisturize

Treat your skin with body lotion, almond oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, or other body moisturizers. They won’t make the stretch marks disappear, but if applied early on, they will have an effect in the later stages of the stretch marks’ evolution.

Eat what’s right for your skin

Foods containing Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Zinc are your skin’s best friends.

Exercise

Physical activity keeps your skin healthy and nourished by increasing blood flow in your body. Another great thing about exercise is that it helps reduce stress, which has an impact on how your skin behaves. More than that, if you keep an exercise routine during pregnancy, you will most likely gain weight gradually and not abruptly.

Keep hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin elastic. The more elastic your skin is, the slower your stretch marks will expand.

Top gift ideas for pregnant women

Buying a present for your pregnant friend can be tricky. Pregnant women do have extra needs, yet they are also more sensitive to the messages that some gifts could send, so don’t make it about her body size or morning sickness. We’ve selected a few cool ideas.

Comforting gifts

A body care basket

Massage oils, bath oils, bath salts, moisturizers and body lotions should all be welcome. Go with products based on almond oils or other ingredients that help prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Pick natural products over luxurious ones. The basket should look like a safe and comforting treat.

A chocolate and fruit basket

Fruits have vitamins, so they’re good for the baby and for the mum. Try to find out her favourite fruits and nuts and include them all in pretty packaging. Just remember to add the delicious treat that will truly spoil her (hint: chocolate).

A day to the Spa centre

Who wouldn’t love a spoil like that? Many pregnant women have back aches and symptoms of tiredness, so a gift voucher to her favourite Spa would be appreciated and enjoyed. This gift will relax her as well as offer relief.

Cute

Plush toys with pregnant themes

If she’s into the cute stuffed toys, find out her favourite types and buy one that has a cute and relevant message. Such popular toys usually have a reference to the baby on board in their message. Try to find a unique one or personalize it if possible. Plush toys are after all pretty common for a gift and you don’t want it to say “I didn’t have time to look for a present, so I just grabbed this from a shop on my way here”.

Picture frames for the baby

Fresh parents generally make a lot of photos when their babies are born, and some of these photos will be framed to fill the house with precious memories of these magic moments. Buy a cute frame for the baby photo or for the ultrasound photos. The fridge is also a popular spot to place baby scan photos, so a cute magnet could also be appreciated.

A baby book

Baby albums have become very popular nowadays, so check first whether your pregnant friend has one already or not. These can be used as early as your friend gets photos and reports from the first ultrasound scan. If the gender is unknown yet, pick an album with a neutral colour. Go for the ones that can be customized easily and that have designated pages to record events and milestones in the first years of life.

Useful

Maternity clothes

Switching the wardrobe can be tough for many pregnant women. Make sure you pick nice and comfy clothes that suit her style and expand to future sizes.

Premium scan gift vouchers

Our 4D Premium Package is the most popular scan given as a gift. It’s a thoughtful gift to surprise your friend with and the extras of this package have given many expecting mums precious memories to keep for a lifetime.

Car stickers

If your pregnant friend drives a car, here’s an inexpensive and very useful gift: a car sticker for the driver side window asking drivers that park nearby to leave room for the pregnant driver to open the door.  Every pregnant driver needs one. It’s impossible to get out of the car when you’re 6 months pregnant and someone parked too close to you.

The 9th Week of Pregnancy

As you’re advancing into the 3rd month of pregnancy, your baby keeps busy growing. The little one is now almost one inch long and is starting to get the baby-like look more and more each day. The eyes, nose and mouth are becoming more distinct, while tiny ear buds are appearing. Eyes will stay shut for another 5 months, but they have already developed. The essential organs have formed by now and they continue to develop and perfect their functions. Your placenta has more complex functions and has started to produce nutrients and to eliminate waste. You can’t feel anything by touching your belly just yet, but you might hear it. Around this time, your baby’s heart beat should be audible with a Doppler device, so make sure to ask for it at your next appointment.

How to take care of yourself at 9 weeks pregnant

It’s likely that your baby bump is barely visible, and yet all these highly-complex changes are going on through your body. At this stage of pregnancy, most women have symptoms of tiredness and morning sickness. Pregnancy hormones are kicking in, sometimes leading to headaches, backaches, mood swings and other symptoms.  It’s important to take really good care of yourself to diminish the negative symptoms and to make sure your body has enough activity and nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy and growing.

Set your appetite on fruits and vegetables. All day. Every day. There are no healthier and safer sources of vitamins and minerals than the natural ones – fruits and vegetables. If you are having morning sickness, your appetite could be decreased, so try to set up a meal schedule with small and regular snacks. Make it easier to adjust to your new lifestyle by seeking advice from a nutritionist or by informing yourself from the web. There are now quite a few useful apps that can help you follow a nutrition plan for the pregnancy months ahead of you.

Further preparations

Schedule an antenatal appointment with your doctor or midwife if you haven’t done so yet. This is mainly for taking routine tests, but you can also get more informed on your progress and get recommendations on eating, rest and exercise based on your medical history and condition. If you have not had a confirmation of pregnancy from your OB yet, do so by taking the first ultrasound scan, called the Early Pregnancy scan or Viability scan. Based on the early pregnancy scan, the sonographer will calculate your estimated due date and check whether you have a single pregnancy or a twin pregnancy.

After you have had confirmation of pregnancy from your doctor, you now have the certainty needed to make the official announcement to your friends, relatives, co-workers and your boss. You can show the first baby scan photos to your close ones and enjoy the wonderful experience ahead.

Get the Most Out of Your Growth Scan

Growth scans are usually carried out in the second and third trimester to check how your baby is growing and if the development goes as planned. You may be recommended to take this scan at the advice of your doctor or your midwife if there are signs that your baby’s growth rate is smaller than expected or that that the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby is too large. Growth scans can be carried out starting with the 14th week of pregnancy.

Your midwife will initially determine if your baby’s growth rate is as expected by measuring your belly with a tape measure and by feeling your bump with her hands. If the baby appears to be growing faster than the average expected rate, there are usually no reasons for worry. If the size of your baby appears to be lower than expected for your stage of pregnancy, however, your midwife will recommend you to take a growth scan for accurate measurements.

What happens during the Growth Scan?

The sonographer will take several measurements with the help of this ultrasound scan and compare it with the average measurements for your week of pregnancy. The circumference of your baby’s head and tummy will be measured firstly, to check whether they are within the average limits. Then, the legs’ size will be assessed, by measuring the length of the femur bone. The amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby will be checked by measuring its depth.

The information on all of these measurements is then pieced together in a detailed report that compares your baby’s measurements with the average ones at the respective stage of pregnancy. It is possible for some measurements to be average and for others to exceed it or fall below the limits.

Babies usually don’t grow steadily, but rather at an uneven rate. At least two sets of measurements at different weeks are often recommended for analysing the baby’s growth rate and not just the size at one point in time. Most sonographers recommend serial growth scans for accurate measurements of your baby’s growth rate. By taking the scan in different weeks of pregnancy, your doctor can measure the growth rate and track it as your pregnancy develops, which is more relevant than the information obtained from a single baby scan.

No special preparations are needed for the growth scan. Usually you don’t need to have a full bladder or to eat at a certain hour. Just feel free to eat and drink as usual and dress comfy for your growth scan appointment.

Celebrity Baby Names – Top Picks for Inspiration

Celebrities choose the coolest and weirdest names for their babies. Some with complex and sought-out meanings behind them, others chosen just because of the cool sound, here are some of the most inspiring baby names of celebrities.

Baby boy names

George Alexander Louis

Parents: Kate Middleton and Prince William

Prince George was named after the Queen’s father – King George VI. The name ‘Louis’ is rumoured to be after Lord Louis Mountbatten. When Prince George will come to rule the country, he will be King George VII.

 

Romeo James

Parents: Victoria Beckham and David Beckham

Apparently ‘Romeo’ is just a name that Victoria and David liked very much.

 

Angelo James

Parents: Adele and Simon Konecki

Adele and Simon kept their baby boy’s name a secret for almost 4 months after his birth. The singer first revealed the name by wearing a gold necklace with the name Angelo.

 

Rex Rayne Wood

Parents: Fearne Cotton and Jesse Wood

The parents did not reveal their inspiration for their baby boy’s name, but it is certainly unique and it has a cool sound.

 

Milan

Parents: Shakira and Gerard Piqué

Shakira revealed the origin of her baby boy’s name on her website: “The name Milan (pronounced MEE-lahn), means dear, loving and gracious in Slavic; in Ancient Roman, eager and laborious; and in Sanskrit, unification.”

 

Astala Dylan Willow and Phaedra Bloom Forever

Parents: Peaches Geldof and Thomas Cohen (S.C.U.M.)

Geldof chose a Jewish name for her first-born, picked up from a baby name book. ‘Astala’ is supposed to be the male version of the Jewish girl name Esther. As for Phaedra, born one year later, Geldof declared in an interview that she had chosen the name from the song ‘Some Velvet Morning’, by Lee Hazlewood. The boy was also named ‘Bloom’, after Peaches’ middle name Honeyblossom and after Nirvana album ‘In Bloom’.

 

Baby girl names

Theodora Rose

Parents: Robbie Williams and Ayda Field

Robbie declared he wanted an old-school name for her daughter, and had several such names already planned before Theodora’s birth.

 

Isabelle Catherine

Parents: Emma Willis and Matt Willis

‘Isabelle Catherine’ is a beautiful and well-chosen baby name, much more conventional than her brother’s name: Ace Billy.

 

Marnie Rose

Parents: Lily Allen and Sam Cooper

The name ‘Rose’ was chosen after her mother’s middle name.

 

Fox India

Parents: Emma Ferguson and Mark Owen

The parents have not declared their inspiration for the highly criticized name ‘Fox India’.

 

Marlowe Ottoline Layng

Parents: Sienna Miller and Tom Sturridge

The name ‘Marlowe’ has been reportedly chosen after Christopher Marlowe, a great Elizabethan dramatist who influenced Shakespeare.

 

Tabitha (Xiao Xi)

Parents: Hugh Grant and Tinglan Hong

Hugh Grant’s daughter also carries a Chinese name – Xiao Xi – which means ‘happy surprise’.

 

The Anomaly Pregnancy Scan and the Most Common Abnormalities It Detects

The anomaly scan is a detailed ultrasound scan, used for determining physical abnormalities of the foetus early on. The best month for an anomaly scan starts with the 20th week of pregnancy. Most women take the scan between this time and the 24th week. What is the anomaly scan used for and why is it recommended to have it? Find out below.

What is the use of an anomaly scan?

With the help of the anomaly scan, the doctor can take a close look at your baby and your uterus to check that everything is developing normally. Usually a scan lasts around 30 minutes, during which major physical abnormalities are checked by looking at certain factors. Your doctor will look at the ultrasound from various areas and angles and assess your baby’s heartbeat, the position of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid around your baby. Measurements to check the baby’s growth and development will be carefully taken in detail, and the baby’s organs will be examined as detailed as the visibility on the scan allows.

Common abnormalities that are checked for during the anomaly scan

Your doctor will also look for signs of some particular disorders when looking at the anomaly scan. Some of these conditions are:

  • Heart conditions, for which your baby’s heart is examined during the scan
  • Spine abnormalities: the doctor will check if the spine and skull are developing normally
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Chromosomal abnormalities: the doctor will check if the number of chromosomes is normal and for related conditions such as the Down syndrome.

Remember, it’s not always possible to check everything in full details, as there are a lot of factors that can impede having a clear view in certain areas. If, due to these factors, the doctor decides that measurements will not be accurate, either a new appointment will be scheduled or an internal transvaginal probe will be used.

Why is it recommended to have the anomaly scan?

Even though the scan is accurate on the measurements that can be taken, not all abnormalities can be identified during this scan. The scan does, however, greatly reduce the risk of having a miscarriage or severe birth defects due to lack of knowledge about certain abnormalities early on during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor and keep yourself informed about the uses and limitations of the anomaly scan to fully understand how you and your baby will benefit from this scan appointment.

The 8th Week of Pregnancy

The baby bump may not be showing by the 8th week of pregnancy in most cases, yet a lot of changes are already going on with your body. Your breasts are becoming more sensitive and tender and you’ll probably need to change your bra to a bigger size by now for proper support. This is caused by the changes in hormonal levels and prepares your body for lactation. In most cases cups will grow by 2 sizes, so it’s practical to buy maternity support bra with two sizes bigger than your current one. You will notice that in this period the areolas around your nipples will begin to darken, also due to the change in hormones.

If you haven’t already followed a nutritional plan, start now. You will need plenty of vitamins and minerals to give your baby all the nutrients needed for a healthy development. Talk to your doctor or a specialist in nutrition about a recommended plan and any supplements you might need. Plan a custom exercise program as well. You will need to strengthen your muscle tone for carrying the weight to come in the next seven months.

Your baby, now at about the size of a raspberry, is growing fast. Although you cannot feel it yet, your baby has already started to move and shift its position. All of the organs have started developing and functioning, and muscles and nerves continue to form. Believe it or not, your baby’s lips begin to take shape around the 8th week of pregnancy, and in most cases fingers and toes are starting to appear. Your baby’s gonads begin to take shape into either ovaries or testicles, although it’s often impossible to see this on the scan that early into pregnancy. You can follow the progress of your growing baby through ultrasound scans now. Many parents find this experience to be magical, as you can actually see the miracle of life unfolding over the course of a few months.

There are genetic screening tests and other tests you can already take during this week. Discuss your family medical history with your doctor to see what tests are needed in your case. Many conditions, such as RH disease, are treatable during pregnancy, so take precautions to reduce all risks and have a safe pregnancy and birth.

Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercising for half an hour each day brings plenty of benefits during pregnancy. Combined with a healthy diet, a few light to moderate exercises on a regular basis will improve your muscle tone and give you strength and energy. You will be more prepared for the moment of labour and it will be easier to get back in shape after childbirth. Another plus is that your mood will generally be better and your sleep quality will improve. Below are a few of the most popular exercising activities and their benefits for pregnant women.

Pilates

Pilates exercises are great for strengthening your abdominal, back and kegel muscles. Check with your doctor for advice on physical activity before starting a Pilates class. You should generally avoid positions that require you to lay on your back, especially after the 10th week of pregnancy. Ask your instructor for recommended positions depending on your pregnancy stage. Most exercises can be easily adapted to your needs and limits, so if you’re well informed you can safely benefit from Pilates exercises.

Prenatal Yoga

There are different types of Yoga, so make sure you choose exercises that are safe for pregnant women, or look for a Prenatal Yoga class. Yoga training will improve your muscle tone, help with back pain relief and keep you flexible. Prenatal Yoga exercises are designed specifically for pregnant women, so they are absolutely safe for you to try.

Jogging

Stretching exercises are great for maintaining the muscle tone and for flexibility, but they need to be complemented with cardio exercises. Jogging will give you a great heart workout and it’s time-efficient. The secret to keep up is routine. Go out for a short, 10 to 15 minutes run every day at the same time, it will get easier and easier to stick to this schedule. Don’t push yourself over the limits, intense workouts are generally not recommended during pregnancy. If you haven’t jogged before, start with a lighter form of exercise, such as walking.

Walking

Walking is one of the safest exercising options during pregnancy. If your doctor advised you to limit physical activities, go out for a walk whenever possible. The best part about walking is that you can combine it with fun activities – such as going for a stroll in the park – and with useful activities – like going to the supermarket. Walking quickly counts as cardio training and will improve your circulation.

Swimming

Swimming is a great exercise during pregnancy, safe and with great benefits at the same time. Most pregnant women enjoy the feeling that their body is lighter in the water. Swimming helps relief back aches and gives your heart and lungs sufficient workout. Join an aquanatal class for water-based exercises designed especially for pregnant women.

Preparing for pregnancy

There are a few things you should do and know about your body and lifestyle before trying to conceive. If you’ve decided to have a baby, having the time to plan and prepare for pregnancy is an opportunity and you should make the most of it. Get a healthy start into pregnancy and plan ahead as early as 1 year to safely prepare your body for the big journey.

Get a full health check-up

Get a complete health check-up before planning to get pregnant. How else will you know if your body is ready for pregnancy? Discuss your medical history with your doctor and your prescription medication, so you’ll be fully informed of all the risks for your pregnancy and your baby. Check if you have immunity to rubella and chickenpox or if you need vaccines. Go to the dentist as early as 6 months before getting pregnant to check if there’s anything to fix so you don’t have to worry about tooth aches while you’re pregnant. Schedule a Pap test right before trying to get pregnant, to know you’re good to go.

It’s also important to know your blood type and that of the father, as they might be incompatible. In this way you can prevent HR disease, which is caused by blood incompatibility and can be treated during pregnancy.

Take folic acid

Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid as early as 2 months before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and to improve fertility. Talk to your doctor about the amount of folic acid supplements you need and other prenatal vitamins.

Control your weight

Studies show that women who are significantly overweight or underweight have higher risks of developing complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Plan a balanced diet as early as possible for getting to your ideal weight in a healthy and natural way. Make sure to choose a healthy diet. Severe diets and starving will have negative effects on your chances of conception instead of preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy. You’ll be much more successful if you combine your diet with an exercise routine, to get in shape faster and have more energy.

Eat healthily

Ideally you should get your vitamins and minerals from food and not from supplements. Aim for fixed and healthy meals that include plenty of nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as red meat and poultry. Oily fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is not advised to consume more than 2 fish meals per week. Avoid fish that contains high levels of mercury, such as: shark, marlin, swordfish and tuna.

Stop smoking

Smoking tobacco releases harmful substances that can be stored in your body for longer periods of time so you should stop smoking early before getting pregnant. If your partner smokes too, now is the ideal time for both to stop. Also avoid second hand smoke before and during pregnancy, as it can be harmful for your baby.

Stop using contraception

It is usually advised to get off the pill a few months before trying to conceive. Sometimes, ovulation can be irregular after stopping contraception pills. Depending on the method you use, it may take longer than a month for your hormonal cycle to return to normal. Visit your OB and discuss this in advance.

Travelling by Car while Pregnant

Going on long trips by car can be tiring when you’re pregnant, but if you take good care of yourself and plan enough breaks, you should be fine. Always choose to be the passenger and not the driver, if possible. It’s also less stressful if you’re bringing someone along to help you out and keep you company. Here are the musts for a safe and comfortable travel.

Drink plenty of fluids

Always make sure to stay hydrated when travelling, especially if you’re going to countries with a hot climate. Try to drink around one 8-ounce cup of water or fluids every hour and avoid caffeine. If you feel thirsty or if you feel your mouth dry, that’s a sign of dehydration and you should drink more. Carry bottled water with you at all times while travelling and make sure you don’t run out. If you prefer juice, try to limit the amount of sugar intake.

Make breaks every 60-90 minutes

Avoid leg swelling and aching by taking breaks every hour, hour and a half. Use the break to walk around, do some light stretching exercises, use the restroom and have some snacks.

It doesn’t need to be a strict schedule. You should generally just listen to your body: have a break whenever you feel like stretching or going to the restroom, but try not to sit in the car for more than 2 hours straight. You can also do some bits of stretching while seating: stretch your legs forward if there’s room, stretch your calves, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Dress comfortably

Dress as comfortably as possible, with loose fitting or stretchy and breathable clothes. Jumpsuits and the like are not ideal for the often bathroom breaks, so opt for cotton dresses or separates with elastic waist pants. Maternity support pantyhose can help relieve swelling and aching and are also recommended for avoiding varicose veins.

Wear comfy sneakers or supportive footwear with contoured insoles and elastic or adjustable straps. It’s a good idea to switch to slippers while sitting in the car.

Wear a seat belt

Wearing a three-point seat belt is perfectly safe for pregnant women. In fact, not wearing your seat belt during pregnancy is very risky, unsafe and frowned upon. Three-point seat belts are safer than lap belts, so if you have the option, choose the three-point. You can adjust your seat belts for maximum comfort, but keep it in the correct position: set the lap strap as low as possible towards the pelvis and never place it on your belly. It’s not recommended to drive while pregnant, yet if you must, adjust your seat so that your belly does not touch the steering wheel but you can still reach the pedals.