Tiger stripes - pregnancy stretch marks

I’ve been slathering myself in Bio Oil and some hideously expensive body butter stuff meant especially for pregnant tums and for combating stretch marks since about month two.

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The latter was a gift from a friend which lasted about a month. It smelt so good and promised so much I've kept on buying it. A few fairly prominent stretch marks have appeared just above my hips on both sides and I felt ok with thinking they were all I was going to get. My mum never got any stretch marks so I thought I may get off lightly. That was until this week!

I was taking a bumpie (selfie of my bump to record its progress!) in the mirror and was thinking to myself that it seemed to have dropped a bit over the last week.

So I decided to lift it up a bit with my hands to reveal the normally unseen 'under bump'. I was mortified to see a load of stretch marks under my belly button that I can't see without getting up close and personal with a mirror. I quickly grabbed a hand held mirror and lay on the bed to survey the damage. I felt really downhearted and all my optimism about 'getting off lightly' rapidly faded as I starting googling images of 'pregnancy stretch marks', which of course only revealed the worst cases!

I spent some time reflecting on this discovery and why I felt so upset about it. Was it that I was sad that my body would now be permanently marked? Was it that I was worried what my husband would think? Was it that I was worried what other people would think? In all honesty I think it's a mixture of all three things but predominantly what other people will think when I eventually don a bikini again – and that's really sad.

There is so much pressure, as we all know, on both men and women to look a certain way and for our bodies to conform to a certain standard.

I also think there's a lot of pressure on pregnant women to have a 'nice, neat bump' and then lose all the extra weight really quickly and fit back into their 'size 10 jeans' practically the day after giving birth. It's hideous.

Later that day I came across a blog about women who had photographed their postpartum bodies, complete with stretch marks and all. Of course stretch marks fade over time but what struck me was how proud these women were of their bodies and what they had achieved. They'd grown and birthed a baby!

Many ladies describe their stretch marks as tiger stripes that they feel they've earned through being such courageous females and mothers.

They didn't seem to have any body insecurities, so why I thought should I? I'm so proud of my bump and I know I'll be so proud of my little daughter when she arrives – and my body for growing her for a whole 9 months! 

So I'll keep up with the Bio Oil and cream regime (I'm already well stocked up), but I'm not going to obsessively look in the mirror each day and monitor myself for new marks. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it and instead I'm going to wear my tiger stripes with pride, for all the fabulous things they represent.

Read the next instalment of the Pregnancy Insider here

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Follow our Pregnancy Insider, the blogger who tells it like it is, by liking our Tommy's Midwives Facebook page. Our Pregnancy Insider is 29, lives in East Anglia, practices yoga and is a big fan of House of Cards - and she's pregnant with her first baby. Look out for her blog each week.