Numerous changes come with one’s pregnancy. Your body and life changes tremendously. That said, perhaps the most significant change for most women comes after pregnancy. Not only do you get to experience motherhood, but you also take on new responsibilities and a new body. Unfortunately, that new body is not the ideal physique that most women dream of. One aspect of the shape that most women struggle with is the loose stomach skin and hanging postpartum belly. For this reason, most women want to know the secrets of losing the hanging after pregnancy stomach.
Believe it or not, there is no secret code to help you lose the after pregnancy stomach. It all comes down to your patience, dedication, and discipline in implementing the simple expert-approved techniques. You may be shocked to realize that you probably have tried most of these techniques even before pregnancy to help you get a flat stomach.
This article will explore the practical techniques which can enable women who have given birth to get a flat stomach. We will also discuss methods you can adopt to help tighten your tummy after pregnancy. In addition, we will reveal the amount of weight you can lose after childbirth to bring you one step close to your ideal physique. Check it out!
Why Do I Still Look Pregnant?
Although women post-partum are glad to be with their newborns, they are not pleased with their tummy area. A large percentage tend to have a saggy stomach after pregnancy, making them look like they are still expecting.
The annoying thing for such women is that some celebrities make it seem like your baby pooch is supposed to disappear magically after delivery. Unfortunately though, it cannot magically disappear because new mothers have to put in the work to lose their postpartum belly.
The only difference for the celebrities may be the fact that they have more resources that allow them to snap back to their previous body shape quickly. For example, they may have a trainer guiding them through their exercise programs and a nanny who helps them sneak in the extra workout time. They may also have a trained chef who is helping them follow a practical after-pregnancy weight loss diet plan.
So, do not beat yourself up if you are not losing your belly fat as fast as your favorite public figure. The reality is that they are not revealing the behind the scenes of what it takes to bounce back to an ideal weight after delivering.
Why Am I Experiencing Stomach Pain After Pregnancy?
For some women, the frustrations that arise after childbirth are doubled. They include the struggles of losing the belly pooch and the stomach pain experienced after delivering. But where does this pain come from?
After delivery, your uterus tends to contract and eventually shrink back to its standard size. When this occurs, you may tend to experience some lower abdominal cramps, which are referred to as afterpains (2). Most women tend to compare them or equate their pain to menstrual cramps.
However, some women may tend to experience more pain than others, especially when eating. In addition, a study conducted in the Netherlands on persistent postpartum pain (PPP) revealed that chronic pain might be present in women who had a cesarean section (2).
Although the pain eventually wears off, most women who had a cesarean delivery had more persistent pain than those with spontaneous delivery (2). It is best to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any pain or complications after giving birth. Mayo Clinic advises you to seek immediate medical attention if you report any of the following (7):
- Chest pains
- Thoughts of harming either yourself or your baby
- Shortness of breath or obstructed breathing
- An incision that is not healing and is also painful
- Bleeding or soaking through more than one pad an hour or if you have blood clots the size of an egg or bigger
- A persistent headache or a bad headache accompanied by vision changes
- A temperature of 100.4 F or anything higher
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How Much Postpartum Weight Can I Lose?
Weight gain during pregnancy is guaranteed. You can gain 25 to 35 pounds in just a few months (4). One of the contributors to this weight gain is the expanding uterus and its lining. According to Mayo Clinic, it may enlarge even more than 500 times its usual size by the end of your pregnancy (4).
Experts reveal that immediately after birth about 13 pounds come off (4). This means that it is safe to say that you will automatically lose 13 pounds after delivery. Within the first six weeks after childbirth, you may lose another 5 to 15 pounds (4). Anything else after depends on your effort.
Some people may lose all the weight and tighten their sagging stomach skin in a short duration. That said, others may take a year or more before they can even report shedding a pound. The best approach to tackle weight loss after pregnancy is to focus on healthy, steady, and gradual weight loss. Otherwise, if you succumb to the pressure from celebrities to snap back in a month or two, you will be overwhelmed. You might even end up giving up due to a lack of speedy results.
How Do You Get Your Stomach Back After Pregnancy?
Of course, some women want to get a flat stomach immediately after giving birth. Although this does happen for some women, it is not common for most. Bear in mind that we have different body shapes, and some of the things we did in pregnancy account for our weight and physique after childbirth.
For example, women who did at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week had controlled weight gain (6). According to Medical News Today, the control of their weight helped minimize the likelihood of having loose or sagging skin after pregnancy (6).
Experts warn women not to fall into the traps of trying crash and fast weight loss diets and stringent exercise programs that promise rapid weight loss results.
They warn that such measures may be harmful, especially for women who had a cesarean section, are lactating, or had a difficult pregnancy (5). So instead of such methods, these experts advise you to try any of the following techniques:
Yes, you heard well, breastfeeding can help in postpartum weight loss. However, remember that you cannot lose weight in one specific body area, in this case, your tummy alone. Instead, you shed weight evenly and throughout your body.
Medical News Today summarizes research investigating the association between breastfeeding and postpartum weight loss (8). The study findings indicate that women who exclusively breastfed for a 3-month window lost about 3.2 pounds more than women who did not breastfeed or used formula feeding (8).
These findings concur with WebMD’s research, which states that breastfeeding women shed up to 500 calories every day (9). The rationale behind this is that your body uses stored calories from pregnancy to produce milk to feed your newborn (9).
So, if possible, focus on exclusive breastfeeding. Not only will it benefit you but also your newborn. It will promote their immune function, help them attain vital nutrients, increase the skin-to-skin effect, and reduce their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (8). It is also the cheapest way to feed your newborn!
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Focusing On Good Nutrition
Good nutrition is imperative before, during, and after pregnancy. You will need to eat a balanced diet rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. According to Medical News Today, these vital components help build muscle and boost collagen production.
Collagen is a crucial protein you will need to develop firm skin around your stomach (6). Good nutrition also entails drinking plenty of water. Water helps with increasing the elasticity of your skin and its appearance (6).
Some women may choose to follow a weight loss diet plan to help them shed extra pounds. However, they may ignore or overlook the fact that healthy eating is essential, especially if they are still breastfeeding.
Do not rush into such a diet plan without seeking professional help. Again, do not be so hasty as to lose so much weight that you jeopardize your health and that of your baby. Let your health and that of your baby come first instead of the thought of looking good. Only give this meal plan a try once you get your healthcare provider’s green light.
The worst thing a woman trying to get rid of postpartum weight can do is too much too fast. For example, rushing to weightlifting just a month or two after giving birth. Although it may work for some, for others, this may end up taking a toll on them.
Instead of such a strategy, experts suggest such women walk up the ladder by resuming their fitness journey using simple aerobic exercises like walking. This may not sound like it does much, but it does help ease you into your fitness journey.
You can consider taking brisk evening walks or leisurely afternoon strolls. It all comes down to your preference. With time, experts suggest walking backwards or in a zigzag pattern to help in further engaging your stomach muscles after pregnancy (1).
Kegels are also practical exercises to do after pregnancy and for several reasons. First, WebMD acknowledges that these exercises help tone your bladder muscles and reduce the risk of incontinence, which is associated with childbirth (1).
These simple exercises also help in paving the way for more complex workouts down the line. The more Kegels you perform, the more control you have over leaks caused when laughing, sneezing, or lifting your baby (1).
After you have perfected doing Kegels, you can now consider doing belly breathing. Start by breathing in deeply and allowing your belly to expand while your pelvic floor relaxes (4). Next, exhale and then draw your belly button in. Next, lift your pelvic floor and perform a kegel. This belly breathing exercise is very effective, especially during the early weeks of postpartum. They are easy to function and can as well be done anywhere and at any time.
Physical therapists also suggest doing pilates due to their effectiveness in bringing your stomach muscles back into line (3). However, they only advise you to perform these exercises after trying the Tupler technique (3).
This technique involves doing various exercises while wearing a belly splint to help protect and hold the abdominal muscles together (3). In addition, it will strengthen your core and help you ease your way into pilates workouts.
However, it would help if you remembered that not all Pilates exercises are safe to perform. Similarly, these workouts may be considered dangerous if your incision or cesarean section scar is yet to heal. In this case, you are advised to start an exercise program only after your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead.
The Bottom Line
Most women who have just given birth struggle with weight loss, especially around their stomach area. Some may have sagging stomach skin, a hanging belly pooch, or a stomach that makes them appear like they are still pregnant.
All these are aspects that may lower the confidence of such women. Luckily, you can implement methods to help you attain your flat stomach and tighten the sagging skin around your stomach.
However, they require dedication and patience. Although they do not guarantee you will lose tremendous weight, they should help to achieve healthy and steady weight loss results. These methods include walking, breastfeeding, having a healthy and balanced diet, and doing pilates, Kegels, and belly breathing exercises.
Do not try any of these methods without first talking to your healthcare provider. Even if they give you the green light, remember to keep them in the loop about your progress constantly. Also, reach out to them if you experience any pain or report complications after implementing any of these techniques.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 6 Get-Your-Body-Back Moves for New Moms (2020, webmd.com)
- A retrospective study on persistent pain after childbirth in the Netherlands (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti) (2020, webmd.com)
- Getting in shape after having a baby (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Getting Your Body Back After Pregnancy (2015, webmd.com)
- Loose skin after pregnancy: Home remedies and medical treatments (2020, meduicalnewstoday.com)
- Postpartum complications: What you need to know (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Postpartum weight loss: Diets and Plans (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- When Does Postpartum Belly Go Away? (2021, webmd.com)