Updated: Jul 12, 2019
How researching recurrent miscarriage and pregnancy complication prevention led me to this incredible find
I want to lead with this— there is no shame in the postpartum body. All shapes, sizes, stretch marks, and scars. Our bodies are miraculous, ladies.
That being said, I don’t have a single stretch mark from my pregnancy. I may have a tall and lanky frame, but I was no Sarah Stage during pregnancy. You remember, the pregnant model with abs? Uh, yeah, not so much me. Sure, I was fit and active before and during my pregnancy, but my belly was HUGE. My daughter was 9lbs 9oz and so long in height that she ran out of room and ended up with torticollis (aka a twisted neck). Oh, and my OB estimated my placenta to be about 8lbs (the average is 1-2lbs, by the way). Wild, right?
I know what you’re thinking—genetics. I must have just gotten lucky. The scientific jury is still out, so I won’t rule it out. BUT— I also wouldn’t rule it in my favor, either. My mother’s skin, bless her, stretched so much during her last pregnancy that she actually had tiny micro tears that started bleeding on the surface.
By the time I got pregnant with my daughter, I had already had several early losses. I was initially so ecstatic to be pregnant, I didn’t really think too much about stretch marks, to be honest. I just wanted to stay pregnant and deliver a healthy baby without complications. And oddly enough, researching into how to do those two things, led me to this one simple daily task, that I firmly (pun absolutely, unfortunately intended) believe left my skin as smooth as my newborn girl’s baby bottom.
I found a book called Vitamins and Pregnancy by Helen Saul Case that I still recommend to everyone. She made mention of a study done on over 300 pregnant women by Frederick Klenner, MD many years ago. He used megadoses of vitamin C, titrating up each trimester, and had phenomenal results. There were no miscarriages in this study, and no postpartum hemorrhages. Labors were also reported to be shorter and less painful. The maternal-newborn nurse in me has to question why this study has not been replicated and why it is not our standard of practice. In my current bedside practice, yes in 2019, I see postpartum hemorrhages regularly. Weekly. It’s the leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States. We actually rank 47/50 in the world for maternal mortality, which seriously puts a chill up my spine.
Needless to say, I was instantly intrigued. As I read on, I learned some other interesting findings:
all of the babies in the study were easily identifiable by the nurses because of their calm and alert dispositions (they dubbed them “Vitamin C babies”)
stretch marks were seldom seen on Klenner’s postpartum patients
there were no toxic manifestations
Seems like a win, yeah? I have always been a huge advocate for vitamins and nutrients, but I initially took the study with a grain of sodium ascorbate. Sorry, another terrible pun. Salt. I took it with a grain of salt. I dug deeper. Turns out the body will use as much vitamin C as it needs… and because both mom and fetus are in high demand for it, megadosing during pregnancy is not only safe, for most of us, it’s necessary.
Vitamin C wears many hats. It acts a powerful antioxidant verses free radicals, improves the absorption of iron from plant based foods, helps the immune system properly function, and acts as a precursor to collagen — which is why mamas like myself didn’t end up with stretch marks. There is a caveat, however. Megadosing of vitamin C, while nontoxic and harmless for most of the general population, is contraindicated in people with blood disorders like thalassemia, G6PD deficiency, sickle cell disease, and hemochromatosis. Diabetics and those prone to cysteine, urate, and oxalate kidney stones should also exercise caution, although there are differing schools of thought on this. I’m not here to give medical advice, and as always, check with your doctor first.
For me, it worked wonders. 10/10 I’d do it again. I carried my first pregnancy to term (post-dates actually!) after several recurrent miscarriages, did not hemorrhage, walked away with no stretch marks, and an incredibly calm and alert newborn.