In 2009, I learned that there was no realistic way my best friend would ever be able to become a father -- his greatest desire in life. I decided then that I would offer to be a surrogate for him (which didn’t sound realistic at the time). A year later, I made that offer. He accepted, and in Nov. 2011 I got pregnant.

I’m writing this blog because I’m not the typical surrogate. For one, in the terms of the trade, I’m an altruistic traditional surrogate (I’m unpaid and the egg is mine) with a totally open arrangement with the dads. Most importantly, though, this is my first pregnancy (NO ONE thinks this is a good idea; most surrogates already have their own kids).

Also, we’re all gay, so this is going to be the gayest baby ever.*

- The Deputy

*Except for the children of those many, many other sets of three or more gays who decided to combine their powers to procreate...

March 20, 2012

Stretch mark phobia

It shouldn't be taken for granted that stretch marks are to be dreaded and avoided. While telling a friend about my stretch mark cream research, she said, without a trace of irony, "So wait you don't want stretch marks?" I looked at her like she had just offered me a recreational lobotomy.  Turns out she finds them sexy. She also finds pregnant women sexy in general - so go figure.

That's all fine and well, but I for one am looking forward to many future days of stretch-mark-free public semi-nudity, etc., so I did my research, and feel like it might be worthwhile to share it on the interweb.

Disclaimer: Don't trust me. I'm getting a PhD in a SOCIAL science. 

There are a few things that are sure to help you with avoiding stretch marks (SMs):
• Have good genetics: good luck with that. ([1][4])
• Be older: teenagers get the worst SMs (ha! sucks for them!) ([2], [3], [4])
• Be small and stay small: this one's a little counter intuitive to me, but apparently thinner women are less likely to get SMs. And, more obviously, the less weight you gain in pregnancy the better. Try to have a smaller baby while you're at it, too! ([2][3][4])

There are some things that are good for you anyway and MIGHT help:
Vitamin C: eat lots of oranges or whatever! Higher blood Vitamin C levels are associated with a lower incidence of SMs ([5])
Drink water: we're supposed to do this anyway. It could help. Hydration, you know! ([6])
Massage: one study found massage with an ointment to help. BUT - the control group received neither massage nor ointment, so it's hard to know which worked! ([8])

Everyone has some family secret cream that's supposed to definitely prevent SMs. Considering what a gold mine for cosmetics companies this is (I would pay out the ass for something proven to work!) I was surprised to find a dearth of research on the topic. This probably means that there simply is no topical miracle solution, but that sure as hell won't stop me from lathering up several times a day! (Heck, at least I'll have soft skin)

So here's a guide I've compiled to help you choose a topical cream or oil. Whatever you use, use it frequently, and start EARLY (1st or early 2nd trimester), well before the stretch marks have a chance to show up.

Ingredients to look for:
Almond oil: one study found regular application to reduce your chance of getting SMs by 90%. If this were really true I feel like it would be better known, but it's worth trying. ([7])
alpha-Tocopherol: the easiest form of Vitamin E for humans to absorb! A great antioxidant, it is also fat-soluble, gets into those cells and prevents damage ([9], [10]). Two studies found positive results testing creams that included alpha-Tocopherol among other ingredients. ([8][11])
Panthenol: a provitamin of B5, it seems to just be a super-moisturizer. It was an ingredient in a cream tested by one study that found positive results ([8])

Ingredients that may be helpful:
Collagen: not just for the lips! Naturally produced by your body ([12])
Elastin: you're already producing more of this because you're pregnant. It's the stuff that makes your ligaments all stretchy (or, elastic, if you will!), but has the same effect on your skin ([13])
 - Collagen and elastin are almost certainly important in preventing stretch marks, but the question remains as to how effective topical application of them is. They were ingredients in a cream tested by one study that found positive results ([11])

Ingredients that probably aren't helpful:
Cocoa butter: WHAT?? GASP!!! This is the #1 recommended solution on the street, but studies show it doesn't do crap ([14], [15])

Ingredients that might be AWESOME... or might kill your fetus:
Gotu Kola: also known as centella asiatica, this little studied Asian medicinal herb was the number one ingredient in a cream tested by one study that found positive results ([11]). It's also reportedly used to prevent pregnancy and induce miscarriage when taken orally ([16], [17]). There's no evidence that it's harmful to the fetus when applied topically... but... um... I'm not risking it!

*Thanks to an anonymous reader for suggesting I write this up!


  1. If women's skin came pleated, this wouldn't be a problem. Intelligent design, ha! :p

  2. I gained 60 pounds with my daughter and didn't get any. I'm 33 weeks with the twins who were measuring about 4 pounds each at our 31 week ultrasound, and currently 34 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. Still not a stretch mark in sight! I did get a few pale ones on the sides of my hips from puberty, but they really only show when the light hits them just right. I attribute this to awesome genetics, and my nightly post shower slathering of extra virgin coconut oil.

  3. Hey! I have some samples of Mother Love Belly Salve and Bio-Oil, if you want to try them. I'm not sure if they showed up in your search, or if the ingredients within are among the most effective (Bio-Oil has a ton of ingredients - many that I don't know, but Motherlove is pretty straight forward beeswax, shea butter, flowers and essential oil)

    1. Nice! I went on a bit of a shopping spree already - Winchester's pointed out to me that I'm not going to be able to review any product accurately because I'm going to use SO MANY OF THEM

  4. I gained 37 pounds and didn't have any stretch marks could be genetics or that I was small to begin with, older (37), and drank lot's of water. I found Mama Mio Tummy Oil and loved it. The smell was really wonderful as well.

    (PS -Kiwis have loads of vitamin C)

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  6. It shouldn't be taken for granted that stretch marks are to be dreaded and avoided. While telling a friend about my stretch mark cream research, he said, without a trace of irony, "So wait you don't want stretch marks Resource

  7. It has long since been said that the best way to deal with a problem is to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. It would be quite difficult to argue with such an assessment.

    For those that may be concerned about the presence of stretch marks on their skin, it is no secret that preventing them from developing is a much better plan than actually having to remove them. Of course, this does lead to questions about how to prevent stretch marks.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. What is the best solution for Stretch Mark during pregnancy or being fat ? Its a common question today .But ultimate solution is near of you and could not understand .Now-a-days many lotions and creams using to remove fade skin in short time .Such as I got rid of fade skin in short by using stria fade that contain vitamin E and alpha hydroxy acids .

  11. Thanks for this very detailed post. I was looking for remedies for my stretch marks and stumbled on this blog. I found this post very useful. Thanks again.

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