They say that time heals all wounds, but they’re wrong.
Time has not healed my stretch marks, even after 5 years!
I ended up with stretch marks during my first pregnancy, despite my daily application of bio-oil and shea butter. I managed to avoid any new marks in my second and third pregnancies, but the ravines in my skin seemed like a permanent new addition. Sure, the redness faded, but I kept searching for something… anything… that would help!
I tried professional creams, I tried homemade organic lotions, I tried cold-pressed lingonberry oil (did you know that was a thing?? I didn't!)
But nothing seemed to do the trick.
I stumbled upon a wonderful solution when I was in need of serious help post-sepsis. My joints were terrible inflamed, I had a hard time getting around, even succumbing to a wheelchair. I started taking pro-biotics, fish oil, and turmeric, but they didn’t help. Then I ordered collagen from Dr. Axe.
After my first smoothie with collagen powder, I instantly had more strength and within weeks my joint pain was gone! Now, my rapid results came from my tremendously depleted system, it seems that most people experience more gradual results. But, the unplanned bonus from the beautiful collagen powder was a huge improvement on my stretch marks.
Here’s what is it and why it was so effective:
“Collagen is a protein made up from amino acids, including the amino acids proline, glycine, and arginine. In fact, collagen is so important that it makes up approximately 30 percent of all the proteins in the body, and is found all over the body—in tendons, ligaments, bones and much more. You might say that collagen is the “glue” that holds us together because it truly is. Collagen is found only in animals, mostly in the flesh and connective tissue, and it’s the second most common substance in the body—second only to water. It’s well known for how it supports overall skin health.† Many people try to improve their skin with lotions and potions from the outside, but my collagen protein can help support healthy skin from the inside out.† How cool is that?”
I also grabbed a pumice stone to help exfoliate my skin and assist in the rejuvenating process, and I’m really thankful, and impressed with the results.
Sometimes the best answers come from where we’d least expect it!
Have a great week!
*please note, this opinion is my own and I was not compensated monetarily or with products for a review.
I was reading an article which encouraged women to try alternate methods like breathing and movement instead of pushing to decrease the rate of perennial tears. I was caught off guard by the notion because after my last birth, I was convinced pushing occurred so naturally and spontaneously that it couldn’t be provoked or stopped.
But, in my medicated births, I never experienced the “urge to push.” I relaxed in bed until the doctor decided it was time. Then, they watched my contractions on the monitor and instructed me when to push. All of my babies were out within 20 minutes of pushing and I experienced tearing twice, once with an epidural and once without an epidural, but each time it had to do with the size and position of the baby, not the pushing itself.
That’s not to say that there isn’t merit to what these midwives are suggesting. One of the best tips I received from a friend was to push and deliver the head, then pause and allow gravity to gracefully deliver the shoulders. The shoulders are the widest part of the baby, so it makes sense that pushing that part out with great force could result in more tearing. I practiced that, even through my “coached” pushing, and refrained from forcefully pushing the shoulders. Instead, a brief pause allowed momentum and gravity to assist in the delivery.
Another great tip I’ve received is to focus the strength of your pushing to the same muscles you use to do kegel exercise. When it is time to push, it’s easy to inadvertently tense up all sorts of areas, from the arms, to the face. But at the moment of delivery, focus your energy on the vaginal muscles, as they are moving the baby out into the world.
In my last birth, I became really nervous about pushing. I was afraid that the baby’s shoulder would get stuck. I told my midwife I was afraid to push, thinking that she’d give me some tips on how to move my body and what to do. Instead, she said, “let’s pray!” In that brief moment, we shifted fear to faith.
When the urge to push came, it overtook my whole body (in a good way), and I pushed with strength I didn’t know I had. It was the most natural, supernatural, experience. It was natural because the incredible rush of hormones made it feel like something women were intricately designed to do, and it was supernatural as I felt my spirit deeply rely on God to birth the baby. In many ways, it felt like an out of body experience, though I was present and active, my spirit was experiencing something divine. After the baby was born, it took me a few minutes to come back to reality. My first thoughts were, “What just happened? Did I just have a baby? The best part was, nothing hurt. Even though I tore during that delivery, I felt a tear, but no pain, complementary of the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the fetal ejection response.
And remember that fear that I mentioned? Well, my daughter actually was tangled in her umbilical cord, so much so that she wasn’t able to get into the proper birth position. One of her shoulders remained “untucked,” which caused nerve damage in her arm. Because of her shoulder remaining untucked, she could have easily gotten stuck. Yet, changing my fear to faith opened up the door for God to move in and protect both of us, a concept we dive into much more in Re:Birth. (Plus, God healed her arm and shoulder miraculously when she was four months old, but that’s another testimony :) !)
What are some of your tips on pushing?
Many women face childbirth with anxiety and fear. Usually that fear has developed over years and taken root based on birth stories, media depictions, and sometimes, just the fear of the unknown. Undoing that fear doesn’t happen overnight. But it can happen, and it did for me. The moment I found out I was expecting my first child, I was terrified to actually give birth. It wasn’t until friends blessed me with a copy of Supernatural Childbirth that I realized birth didn’t have to be bad and God would be right with me the entire time… which brings me to my first tip:
Replace Fear with Faith:
Fear is powerful. It can cause an undesired rush of adrenaline into the laboring mom’s blood stream which inhibits oxytocin and pumps the body filled with adrenaline, a response which can slow and even stall labor and delivery. But faith is exponentially more powerful.
Start building your faith before labor arrives. We have free pregnancy declarations based on scripture to encourage you in the journey. Fill yourself up with powerful, encouraging births stories, like the ones shared in Re:Birth, and start believing for more! You were MADE to be a Mom, and God MADE you to have babies! He has been a part of every birth in history, and can’t wait to be a part of yours!
Pick the Right Location:
Having a place to deliver the baby where you feel comfortable is crucial. For my first baby, I felt comfortable delivering in a hospital, I knew there would be assistance on hand if I needed it. For my third birth, I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home with my family around. Birth needs change, and desires will fluctuate, but make sure that you find a place that will help you feel secure and at peace.
You also may want to “set the mood” for birth. It’s often suggested that dim lighting is helpful during labor, pack some LED candles in your labor bag and find out if it’s ok to shut off the lights. Or if you’re at home, try out some fragrant lavender candles. Fill the atmosphere with little reminders that bring your strength and encouragement.
Choose whose word to believe:
During my second pregnancy, I filled myself with truths and was expecting the miraculous. My labor started out wonderfully, I was 7cm dilated and having some mild contractions, but I wasn’t in pain. A well-meaning nurse looked at me and said, “The only way you’re able to do this [meaning labor easily] is because your water hasn’t broken yet… once that happens, it gets a lot worse!”
I thought, “oh my goodness… what am I going to do!?!?” All the nice prep work I had done flew out of my brain in a panic, I didn’t even think back on my first birth experience which would have rendered her words untrue. Instead, believing the nurses words plummeted my birth into fear and pain.
Modern medicine can tell us one thing, but God’s got all the power. There might be a moment where you have to make a choice on whose word you’ll believe. Make that choice with a heart filled with peace, not fear!
Use Your Voice:
No, I’m not talking about yelling… although some women find making different sounds peaceful. I’m talking about being an advocate for you! This is YOUR moment, this is YOUR birth, don’t be afraid to say “no,” or to speak up! Those around you are there to assist you, if they’re not making the experience worse, say something! During my second birth, I felt very bullied by the nurse and that they were inconvenienced by my decision to have a natural birth. I had my husband go talk to the head nurse, and the dynamic changed.
I love this quote from Penny Simkin because she nails it on the head:
“Many women ‘suffer’ in childbirth, and it’s because they’re not respected, or kindly treated, they don’t have the tools to cope, or they feel unloved, or alone. If a woman crosses the line from ‘pain’ into ‘suffering’ in childbirth, we’ve failed her.”
Surround yourself with people who will uplift you, encourage you, and support you at each step of the journey!
What is your favorite piece of advice for keeping peace in labor?
 For more information, check out http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/myth-painful-birth-not-nearly-bad-women-believe/
The friendly stranger would look on with horror and nearby pedestrians would jump in and try to correct my terrified toddler. "Don't hit your mom!" They would scold, which would only exasperate the situation. I felt like a terrible mother, surely somewhere in his 18 months with me, I had broken this precious gift from God.
Months went on and the situation seemed to grow worse. I would avoid going out simply to bypass any chaos. Whenever my son would act out, a monolog ran through my mind of what onlookers must be thinking:
Que older woman voice, "If I did that to my mama, she would tan my hide!"
Or que the snooty, analytical voice, “They must hit that boy at home… that's where he learned the behavior!"
Unfortunately, my little angel didn't get the in-utero memo that we don't hit in our household.
Finally, I nearly broke down after my son hit me in front of the pediatrician. I explained that we don't hit in our house, and I don't know where he learned this, or what to do, nothing seemed to help! As I choked back tears from months of mom anguish, my pediatrician choked back a chuckle.
She explained that this behavior, though not good, was a very common in children. Sure, I had read that online before, but her words provided relief. Maybe others weren’t judging me as harshly as I judged myself?
Flash forward a few years, and our tribe has grown. I have three little ones, and the said toddler is now a happy five year old. Guess what? He stopped hitting. Instead of mommy freaking out, he needed some reassurance that I was with him and he was safe when strangers came around.
I do have another toddler though, and she has hit a few times. Then, she sat in time-out, and I moved along with my day because I have to. I have a baby to feed and meals to cook and laundry to do.
The moral of my story is that, oftentimes, moms are highly equipped to make mountains out of mole hills. We adore our children and think they're perfectly incredible. Sure, some kids may hit, but not my angel! When we hit a bump in the road, we’re thrown off completely and we google 800 different ways to handle the pothole because we’re afraid that just driving over will produce permanent damage and years of therapy. But the longer you parent, and the more families grow and change, the more you realize that the road is indeed bumpy. No one has a freshly paved road in front of them, and if it looks like Jenny from the playground does, then it's a façade [I read her e-mails].
Take a deep breath, fasten your seat belts, and keep driving. You'll make it through the ditch, I promise! Don't let potholes ruin the trip, and don’t let worrying about the potholes keep you from driving. The memories of this crazy road trip we call parenting will fuel us with joyful memories for decades to come, and at the end of our days, we’ll look back and relish in the laughter, the milestones, even the tears, because we were together… and we made it through.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day, you’ve earned it!
Is a wife, mother of four, author of Re:Birth, and lover of afternoon naps.