Tips For Flat Tummy After Pregnancy — How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

Tips For Flat Tummy After Pregnancy — How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

You may be wondering if your postpartum belly will ever go away, and it's taking a toll on your self-esteem.

There is no definitive answer to when you'll regain your pre-pregnancy body, as every woman's pregnancy experience and body is unique. However, we're confident you can bounce back to your former self with the right mindset, some hard work, and the right equipment.

It's common to end up with stubborn belly fat after pregnancy. What's more, this extra weight seems to creep up on you while you're pregnant—it doesn't come off with breastfeeding and even if you work out, no matter how often or how hard.

If you're one of the many women who have experienced this frustrating scenario, don't worry; we're here to help. Our article covers why it's common to gain belly fat during pregnancy and what you can do to get your pre-pregnancy body back sooner.

real moms wearing a bellefit postpartum girdle

If you're still in your pregnancy and looking to plan a head, you should check out our other articles on 10 Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy Guide and these 5 Tips for a Holistic Approach to Pregnancy to make losing weight after pregnancy much easier.

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Tips For Flat Tummy After Pregnancy - How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat?
@jenniferaffleckk Nora & I sending out good vibes weekly💓 #momsoftiktok #utahmom #postpartum #postpregnancyweightloss #postpregnancy #bounceback #babiesoftiktok #fyp #pregnancy #youngmom ♬ Wanna Be Startin' Something - Michael Jackson - livethelifethatyoudread

Understanding The After-Pregnancy Belly

One of the most common complaints we hear from new moms is the dreaded "jelly belly" or "mommy pooch" that just doesn't seem to go away. The basic idea behind it is that after pregnancy, your stomach flab hangs on for dear life and won't go away no matter how much you exercise or diet. The culprits behind this are the same ones responsible for stretch marks: hormones, skin elasticity, body fat distribution and genetics.

The truth is that two-thirds of women who have given birth to a child will be diagnosed with postpartum weight retention up to 5 years after delivery. Postpartum weight retention refers to the excess weight a woman gains while pregnant, which she cannot get rid of in the weeks and months following giving birth. It's also known as post-pregnancy belly fat or pregnancy pooch even though you may be months or years past your pregnancy.

Here are some of the main reasons why your belly is looking a little bigger than you'd like after pregnancy.

Smiling pregnant woman sitting in sofa touching her belly
Understanding the After Pregnancy Belly

Enlarged Uterus

The uterus that first housed your baby started out as the size of a large plum (3 – 4 inches), and it stretches up to 500 times its size during pregnancy. Just as the uterus didn't grow overnight, don't expect your uterus to shrink back to its original size so quickly.

The process of your uterus transforming back to its original size is called involution and the whole process can take anywhere from 6 – 8 weeks after giving birth, which may leave you feeling quite large for longer than you'd like — luckily, the female body is designed to bounce back to shape eventually.

After your baby is born, you may experience cramping and uterine contractions, called "afterpains" — which shrink the uterus back to size — from around 72 hours after delivery until involution is complete.

'Afterpains' aren't really pains at all. They can feel like mild menstrual cramps and can be quite uncomfortable—but they're an expected part of the postpartum recovery process and nothing to worry about. Afterpains often start out as a twinge, then feel like a tightening sensation that lasts for about 30 seconds, before subsiding again.

'Afterpains' will probably start between 24 to 48 hours after you give birth. As your uterus begins to involute (meaning it returns to its normal size), 'afterpains' are a result of the contracting muscles pulling on the connective tissue in the uterus. Usually you feel mild discomfort and occur every 15-30 minutes for no longer than 10 minutes at a time.

The intensity of afterpains can vary depending on how quickly your uterus has shrunk back down to its pre-pregnancy size, how much your baby nursed or was fed during her first three days of life, and whether or not you've had stitches following the birth.

Some mothers find breastfeeding to help with the afterpains and wearing a postpartum girdle can also reduce these pains.

There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to wear a postpartum girdle, including personal preference, comfort, and cost. Some women choose to wear girdles during pregnancy and continue to use them after delivery to help support their abdominal muscles as they heal.

close up of pregnant woman making heart on belly
Your Enlarged Uterus

Accumulated 'Baby Belly Fat'

There are several factors that come into play for the stubborn belly fat that accumulates as a result of pregnancy.

The first trimester is the most difficult to stay in shape because your body is adjusting to the hormone changes of pregnancy. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating, which affects how much you're eating. You may be hungrier than usual or in need of more frequent meals. Either way, it's important to understand that you'll likely gain weight during this time, as your baby needs extra calories for development.

New life concept
Accumulated Fat in the Abdominal Area

Belly fat has also been shown to increase when a woman is pregnant, due to hormonal fluctuations. Human bodies generally put on weight around the belly (rather than the hips or thighs) when they consume more calories than they're burning. That's why it's so important to eat right and stay active during your pregnancy to help combat extra body fat.

The second and third trimesters are easier because you're getting into a regular routine with meal times and exercising habits by then. However, don't forget that while your body is making room for a baby, you still need to make room for yourself! A few extra pounds won't hurt—the average woman gains 25-35 pounds while she's pregnant—but excessive weight gain can lead to health issues like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Most women will find that a significant portion of their weight gain happens in the third trimester. Those same hormones also cause you to hold on to calories and store it as fat to nourish and protect the growing baby. The extra fat is also used for nutrients for when it's time to breastfeed.

Separated Abdominal Muscles

Diastasis recti is the separation of your ab muscles caused by pregnancy or trauma to the muscles, and 66% of women experience abdominal wall separation in their third-trimester.

For starters, you should know where your muscles are and how they work. The right and left sides of your rectus abdominis meet in the middle at the linea alba (the white vertical line running down the middle of your abdomen). If you feel above this line with your fingers, you're feeling above where your ab muscles meet; directly below this point is a gap between the muscles where they are connected to the pubic bone.

Diastasis recti can be found in both men and women, but it is more common in women due to pregnancy. The condition can occur with or without symptoms, such as pain, bloating, and digestive problems. If you are experiencing these symptoms and want to get a diagnosis, you should go see your doctor who can determine if you have diastasis recti using an ultrasound or an MRI machine.

If you do have diastasis recti, there are exercises you can do to help bring your stomach back together. The most important thing is consistency with your exercises. You should be doing your exercises at least three times per week for best results. Exercises such as planks and side plank variations will help strengthen your transverse abdominus muscle which not only helps stabilize the core but also helps bring the separated muscles back together.

Diastasis recti may be responsible for the belly pooch even after you've lost most of your pregnancy weight.

There are varying case severities of diastasis recti, but luckily the most common cases don't require surgery to treat.

Pregnant woman in yoga class
Diastasis Recti — Abdominal Wall Seperation

Post-Pregnancy Belly: Loose Skin

Loose skin after pregnancy is amongst one of THE most common issues new moms face when working on getting back to their pre-pregnancy shape.

When you're pregnant, your body does some really cool things. It grows a tiny human inside of it, and it gets the hang of making milk for feeding the tiny human after he or she is born. Then the baby is born, and suddenly, those same parts of your body have to do some other really cool things: they have to feed that baby with milk from your breasts.

A lot of women experience something called "loose skin" as a result of these processes. That's when after you lose fat, your skin doesn't shrink back down to where it was before. Loose skin can sometimes make it so that bras or clothing feels loose or hangs differently on you. If your belly button is stretched out, it may not look like your belly button anymore. This can be hard to deal with emotionally if you're used to seeing yourself one way, and all of a sudden, that way is different.

Because pregnancy affects every woman differently, loose skin varies widely in how much it affects each person. Some people deal with a small amount of loose skin after pregnancy; others have a very hard time with a lot of loose skin after pregnancy.

The intense 9-months stretch your skin undergoes causes collagen fibers to break due to overstretching. However, there are natural ways to minimize loose skin that doesn't always require surgery — more on that below.

Waist measuring
Ways to Minimize Loose Skin After Pregnancy

5 Tips For A Flat Tummy After Pregnancy

Now that we've taken a closer look at some of the main reasons for that stubborn mummy-tummy, we'll share our tips on how to slim your belly and waist line.

Our advice should never replace the recommendations given to you by your healthcare professional, so before you begin exercising or making any substantial changes to your health regimen, please consult with your doctor.

1. Breastfeed To Promote Weight Loss

Mother feeding baby with breast
New mom breastfeeding her baby

There are many benefits to breastfeeding your baby — from providing the ideal nutrients, bonding, and strengthening their immune system.

But did you know that breastfeeding also promotes post-pregnancy weight-loss?

It's true. Breastfeeding requires 300 – 500 calories per day. Studies show that moms who breastfed their babies lost weight faster than women who didn't.

For advice on getting your baby to latch, check out our top breastfeeding tips.