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Does Belly Oil for Pregnancy Stretch Marks Work? A Recipe & Ritual

Updated: Jun 28

Many pregnant people grapple with their bodies changing during pregnancy. For queer pregnant people, feelings of body dysphoria can further complicate the changes they go through. Many people worry about the stretch marks that appear on the stomach and chest during pregnancy and wonder if there are any products that can help. [Scroll to the bottom for a DIY belly oil recipe]


pregnant belly with no stretch marks

Does Oil Prevent Stretch Marks?

About 8 out of 10 pregnant people experience stretch marks.(1) These are usually lightening shaped or jagged lines on the belly, thighs, and chest. Depending on your skin tone they might be lighter or darker than your other skin.


The market for stretch mark prevention is hot! Products range from creams to belly "masks." Oil is the most commonly used product.(2) There is a wide variety of belly oil available from companies catering specifically to pregnant people. I definitely don't suggest spending $68 on a trendy belly oil just to quell your anxiety, which is why I made my own formula. Even with very high quality ingredients, it comes in at about 1/3 of that price.


Is there anything you can do to prevent them? The short answer is, probably not. There is very little research on the effectiveness of products aimed at reducing stretch marks.(3) We also know that stretch marks related to pregnancy are genetic, and no product has proven clinically effective at preventing them yet, though more research is needed.(4) Typical: not enough research and funding for pregnancy-related issues. [cue rage]


The American Pregnancy Association recommends your "best defense against stretch marks is to ensure that the skin maintains its maximum elasticity throughout pregnancy."(5) Even if belly oil isn't proven to prevent stretch marks, it may help with itching and discomfort as your skin stretches. Based on that advice, I do think that applying a very strong moisturizer every day is worth a shot.


A Ritual

Why not make rubbing on some oil a daily ritual and include your partner? Choose a poem or affirmation to read and repeat eat night, or take a moment after the shower. Here's something to get you started:


My body is a garden

Wild and expanding

Each crawling vine and leafy line

Tells the story of growth and becoming


Now, take time to mindfully rub some oil into your skin (or ask your partner to do it!), giving thanks for something that nourished you that day. You may even send gratitude to the plants that were squeezed and sacrificed to make your oil. Take a deep breath and connect with your fetus, yourself, your heartbeat. Give thanks to your body for nourishing your baby. All of this gratitude may be as simple as a few slow breaths.


If you'd like to homemake your own oil, here's a recipe. This would be a lovely gift for a partner to make! I'm a nerd so I looked at the ingredients in all the top belly oils and then researched which ones are most beneficial for both moisturizing and scar reduction. This recipe is made up of the most common ingredients and given in ratios so that you can scale up or down to suit your needs.


Homemade Pregnancy Belly Oil Recipe

6 parts calendula-infused olive oil (can use plain olive oil if infusing isn't something you do)

2 parts jojoba oil

homemade pregnancy belly oil diy recipe for stretch marks

1 part vitamin e

1 part rosehip*

1 part sunflower oil (optional)

1 part apricot seed oil (optional)

5 drops per oz lavender essential oil

5 drops per oz helichrysum oil

other essential oil to your preference (make sure to check safety in pregnancy; I like rose)


This recipe makes a thin, easily absorbed golden oil. Play around with the ingredient list and scents. Let me know what you think, and enjoy!


My clients get a 2oz bottle with some lux ingredients & plants from my garden handmade by me included in their doula package. You can also buy a bottle from me if you're local to Chicago - reach out if you are interested!


*Note that some people have reactions to rosehip oil; once you've made your oil test some on your inner elbow to check for allergic reactions before using.


References

(3) ibid

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