Pregnancy and childbirth can really do a number on your body (can I get an Amen!). Some of the weirdness — line down the middle of your torso, darkened face, extra pounds (ha!), bloated face — eventually goes away. Other stuff? It’s pretty much here to stay (I mentioned the extra pounds, yes?).
For a lot of women, the permanent markings like stretch marks and c-section scars have a huge psychological impact.
One study of 100 women found that nearly half suffered a negative self-confidence related to stretch marks and scars. Only a quarter of them were satisfied with advice their doctors and midwives had given them regarding the matter. Half the women dressed in order to hide their stretch marks. More than one quarter had been worried about stretch marks during pregnancy and two-thirds received no advice at all regarding them.
Now, important to note is that the study was funded by a group selling products they claim improve the appearance of stretch marks or lessens and prevents them. So of course the stats are all doom and gloom. Still, the fact that half of the women surveyed aren’t all that excited about their stretch marks isn’t so surprising.
The results of the study (and plenty of plugs for the product) were published in the online journal Nursing in Practice. The article quotes a midwife who, I think accurately, intimates that we mere mortals are made to feel freakish when celebrities show up in People with little to no evidence of having had a baby three weeks prior. Not only are they fatless, but their skin is flawless. And they claim its genes (which it sometimes is) and ignore that it’s Photoshop (which it, more often than not, is too).
I think celebrity culture and the faux returns to pre-pregnancy bodies helps in making women feel bad about these changes, but our culture is also somewhat fixated on the idea that we can pretend nothing much really happened when we had babies and became parents. Anyway, like the kids themselves, stretch marks are an indicator that life altered with pregnancy, we moved on, it’s OK to change!
My body has never been my lead feature, so I’m not all that bothered by my stretch marks. I remember, though, during my first pregnancy, the nurse in my OBs office used to run her hands over my growing belly praising me for having no stretch marks. “That’s good!” she would enthuse. I’m not sure I even knew what a stretch mark was back then.
At the end of my eighth month, though, I saw a few of them appear. And then more and then more. I didn’t really care, not knowing they would be around until the end of time, but all I could think was how disappointed the nurse was going to be.
How do you feel about your stretch marks? Your c-section scar? Do you remember your pre-marked belly?