In the joys and obstacles that you can face post-pregnancy, one of the most common that women worry about is eliminating their post-pregnancy tummy. While you will lose a considerable amount of weight within a few weeks of delivery, bouncing back to your regular self will take time. Luckily, there are several lifestyle changes you can make along the way to help flatten, firm, and tone-up your whole body.
Before we jump into our 10 tips for doing this, let’s take a look at the 4 main causes behind post-pregnancy tummies.
THE 4 MAIN CAUSES OF JELLY BELLY OR POST-PREGNANCY TUMMIES
Before we jump into how to eliminate your post-pregnancy tummy, it is important to understand the causes behind the “jelly belly” as this will provide some clarity on why your body doesn’t bounce back immediately post-pregnancy.
1. You Have Extra Fat For Nourishment
While every woman varies in how much weight gain they put on during pregnancy, fat accumulation is a normal characteristic of pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. This is because you are eating for two and being pregnant makes exercise difficult. Pregnancy hormones will cause you to hold onto nutrients and calories in the form of extra fat, so that they can be used to nourish the baby when it comes time to breastfeed.
2. Your Uterus Grows!
As your baby develops, your uterus needs to expand to make more room for your little one. During conception, your uterus weighs about 2.5 ounces, but over the course of your pregnancy, the need to expand will cause it to weigh in at about 2-pounds . At this point, your uterus can hold 500 times the amount it could before conception.
After birth, the uterus undergoes a process called involution where it shrinks back to its original size. However, this process can be 6-8 weeks and begins at about 72-hours after delivery.
3. Your Abdominal Muscles Separate (Diastasis Recti)
Another common reason for retaining a post-pregnancy tummy is from separated abdominal muscles. This is a common condition where there is a partial or complete separation of the “six-pack” muscles that run down the midline of your stomach. It happens in about 66%  of women during their third trimester, as the uterus needs to stretch to make room for your growing baby. While you may not experience symptoms, this condition can persist after birth in about 30-6% of women .
4. Hanging Skin
While loose skin may be unsightly to look at, it’s appearance after pregnancy is quite normal and one of the most common issues that women face. Since your skin must undergo 9-months of stretching, the collagen fibers that hold your skin firm (elastin), break down, causing the skin to have a harder time at bouncing back afterward.
So, now that we know why you have that “mommy pooch,” let’s break down how you can eliminate your post-pregnancy tummy and get back to feeling more like yourself.
4 LIFESTYLE ACTIONS TO FLATTEN YOUR POST-PREGNANCY TUMMY
1. Consider Breastfeeding Your Baby
One of the ways to lose weight quickly and slim down back to your original size (or as close to it as possible) is through breastfeeding. The fat accumulation you experienced during pregnancy is used after birth to fuel your milk production and feed your baby. Even if you eat an additional 300+ calories a day, you may still lose weight over the course of the next 6-9-months .
2. Wear a Postpartum Girdle
The recovery process after birth can be an uncomfortable and painful one due to uterus involution and weakened abdominal muscles. One way to boost recovery is by wearing a postpartum girdle which is a compression garment designed to support your core during exercise, train your waist, and reduce inflammation by promoting blood circulation.
3. Do Not Restrict Calories But Eat Clean & Lean
While you don’t want to restrict calories during this time, it is important to pair up with an expert in nutrition to make sure that what you are eating is nourishing for both you and your baby. To help prevent over-consumption, do your best to stay away from added sugars, alcohol, and processed foods and instead choose items like lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables. These items will keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent snacking in between meals, thus promoting weight loss while keeping your energy levels high.
4. Consider Deep Tissue Massages
A postpartum, deep tissue massage is going to improve your ability to relax, it will reduce your stress levels and provide you with pain relief by reducing inflammation in the body. You may experience better hormone regulation, better sleep, and an easier time breastfeeding as a result . You can also take this time to ask about the kinds of massage oils that are best suited for nourishing the skin and helping it regain its elasticity.
INCORPORATE LOW-IMPACT EXERCISES INTO YOUR ROUTINE TO GET BACK IN SHAPE
Postnatal fitness is critical in strengthening your abdominal wall and reducing belly fat after a pregnancy. While you don’t need to pop back into the gym immediately (and it’s not recommended that you do so), it is a good idea to incorporate low-impact physical exercises into your daily routine.
Here are some options to help you get back into shape.
These are incredibly important post-delivery as they tone up your pelvic muscles which provide support for your uterus, bladder, rectum, and small intestine. To perform a kegel, lay down on your back and bend your knees with your feet touching the floor. Place your arms at your sides on the floor and contract your pelvic floor as if you were trying to hold your urine in. Hold for a few seconds and then release.
Stroller walking is both a safe and effective way to give your body an amazing workout without going overboard. You can use the stroller for support, pace yourself as slowly as you need, and engage your cardiovascular system which will give you a full body workout. Even going at a leisurely pace to start with is a great way to move your body while enjoying a change of scenery. Plus, the vitamin D is good for boosting your body’s immune response.
3. Yoga or Pilates
Both yoga and pilates are a great option for women who are looking to strengthen their whole body, improve mobility, and increase core stability.
Both yoga and pilates allow you to take the time to really stretch out your muscles, tune in with what feels good, and modify the exercises as needed.
Some fantastic yoga poses for post-pregnancy tummy weight loss are:
In this pose, you lie on your stomach, arms at your sides, and your knees bent so that your feet are aimed towards your head. You then lift your head (inhale) and bend backward, lifting your legs as high as possible, so that you can touch them with your hands. You maintain the pose and breathe through it and then come back to the original position while exhaling.
With this pose, you lay on your back and raise your legs towards your head, keeping them straight (inhale as you do so). You then lift your arms and reach for your toes, to make a 45-degree angle. Maintain the posture, breathe through it, and exhale as you lower your legs.
- Other poses that are great for weight loss are: Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose).
4. Pelvic Tilt.
The pelvic tilt is a simple exercise that strengthens the abdominal muscles and is extremely low-impact. You simply lie down, flattened against the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat (similar pose to a kegel). Tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvic upward, towards you. Hold for 10 seconds and release.
HOW CAN I TACKLE MY LOOSE SKIN?
When it comes to loose skin, those with milder cases may be able to tackle it with hydration, vitamins & minerals, and lotions or oils that support your skin’s structure.
1. Hydrate With Water
In the first few weeks of recovery, you’re going to be losing a lot of fluids. As your hormones level out and your body begins to get rid of the water weight it no longer needs, you’re going to find yourself thirstier than ever. As a new mom, you’re going to need to drink water to support your milk production, to flush out toxins, and replenish the body’s hydration levels. This, in turn, will help boost the health of your skin by giving it the moisture it needs to heal and improve its elasticity.
2. Support Your Skin With Vitamins, Minerals, & Lotions
Look into picking up vitamins and minerals that will help nourish and protect the skin. For instance, vitamin E can help protect the skin’s membranes, vitamin A helps repair skin tissue, and omega-3s can help make your skin glow by boosting the health of your skin cell’s membranes. You may also want to pick up post-natal vitamins that contain iron, iodine, Vitamin B12, and Choline as these often become deficient in breastfeeding moms and are needed for the healthy development of your baby. Finally, lotions that are rich in collagen can help improve the look and feel of your skin, but just keep in mind that topical products will not penetrate all layers of the skin.
WRAPPING IT UP
When it comes to eliminating your post-pregnancy tummy, try to have patience and kindness towards yourself. Your body has just undergone a tremendous feat, one that will take anywhere from 9-12-months to bounce back from.
The key takeaway here is to eat healthy, support your body with the right exercise and nutrition, and then listen to how it responds to you.