by Tara M. Bloom
If you find yourself wearing a cover-up over your bathing suit or longer shorts now that you're a mom, you're not alone. Chances are good that if you're a mom or mom-to-be, you have -- or are quickly developing -- cellulite.
Why Moms Are So Prone to Cellulite
The formation of cellulite can be attributed to four things: fat deposits, connective tissue, genes and lifestyle. Unfortunately for us, women are predisposed to lose on all four fronts.
Everyone knows that women gain weight with pregnancy and that the weight doesn't come only in the form of a baby. After puberty and especially during pregnancy, our bodies add and store fat (mostly around the hips, buttocks and thighs) for evolutionary reasons: to have energy on hand in case food is scarce when we have a baby to feed. Thank you, Mother Nature, for being so protective of our babies, but can we take it from here?
Fat deposits alone don't make cellulite. After all, your husband could stand to lose some weight and you don't see him having to hide cottage cheese thighs, right?
That's because men and women have different connective tissue. Skin connects to the body's muscles beneath it through fibrous strands known as septae. In men, the septae run diagonal to the skin, but in women, they're vertical. The resulting effect is that in women, the fat chambers in between septae create a puckered look, while in men, they don't.
To make matters worse, women's hormones affect the resilience and flexibility of our septae, making it stiffer and less elastic. And pregnancy hormones? You guessed it, they don't help.
Like so much else in our bodies, genes play a role in the development and severity of cellulite. Why? The genetic coding for your body's connective tissue, fat storage, metabolism, and hormones has been passed down from generations. Thank mom (and grandmom, and her mom) for your propensity to pucker.
Insufficient movement and exercise, too much salt, too many carbs, not enough fiber and inadequate hydration all keep fat stored in your body. As busy modern women, and moms, we’re likely to sit too long at our desks, put others' needs first and grab nutrient-poor foods to stave off hunger in our too-busy schedules.
What Can You Do?
While we can't alter our genetic predisposition to cellulite, we can influence some of the other factors. The good news is that with the following pregnancy-safe ways to target cellulite, you'll reap additional benefits for yourself and your baby.
Whether you're pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, or had a baby more than six weeks ago, now's the time to get moving. Burn calories to reduce your body's fat stores.
2. Commit to Nutrition
Again, whether you're pregnant, trying to conceive or have a brand-new baby, you'll help fight and prevent cellulite with nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and adequate protein aren't just great cellulite-fighters: they all contribute to a healthy baby and successful breastfeeding.
We may not be able to override our biological instructions to store fat, but we can use some of Mother Nature's own tricks to solve our cellulite problem. To prevent new cellulite: moisturize naturally. Choose pregnancy-safe or maternity formulated moisturizers that aim to specifically promote your skin’s elasticity with natural ingredients such as Vitamin E.
- If you like body oil, try Elasticity Belly Oil
- If you prefer a body butter, try Substance Belly Jelly
- If lotion is your favorite, we suggest vedaMAMA Supple
Target stubborn cellulite with maternity formulated, natural collagen boosters. A while back I heard of a make-your-own formula from a beauty blogger on Twitter that involved applying used coffee grounds to cellulite trouble spots. Unfortunately, I don't have enough hours in the day to make my own salad dressing, never mind make my own cellulite treatment. I’ll stick to what's in a bottle for now.
- Algae, oats, tea and clover to go work in Glowology Afterglow Gel
- Tea, shiitake mushroom, rice proteins and hydrolyzed collagen fight cellulite in Belli's Body Firming Serum
- For a completely organic solution, Moisture Me Body Toning Oil will make you fall in love with your skin again
5. Stay hydrated
With our busy lives and the summer heat, we all need to try harder to drink more water, but it's especially true for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. By quenching your body's thirst, you flush fats, keep circulating nutrients through your body and support your milk supply.
What About Lipo or Spa Treatments?
Why isn't liposuction or other spa treatments on this list? While it's tempting to think that after baby arrives, you can just suck away all the bad fat and slip back into a bikini, the truth is that liposuction is ineffective against cellulite. That's because liposuction removes fat from a deeper layer of the skin, not from the surface area fat deposits that are responsible for cellulite.
Spa treatments such as mesotherapy, massage and even laser removals provide only temporary, if any, effect.
If you'd feel better trying those surgical or spa treatments, go ahead. Just skip them during pregnancy and get postpartum clearance from your health care provider before you do.
Tara M. Bloom has a passionate desire for women to have safe, healthy, confident experiences of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. She’s the founder and CEO of Maternitique, a resource for women seeking naturally safe and beautiful maternity products through their childbearing years. Read more of Tara's maternity guides on her blog, Materni-Talk.
Copyright © Tara M. Bloom. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.