How to firm up extra skin and rediscover your shape
Then it happens. You finally have your baby. You’re feeling relieved to have uncomfortable back aches behind you, what about that stomach? Will it ever go back to normal?
Many women are worried about their post-baby belly and what they can do to get their shape back. If you are looking to get rid of a few pounds, consider these tips from Sheila H. Bonds, MD with Obstetrics and Gynecology at Scott and White Healthcare—College Station Clinic.
Bonds works with a number of women, helping them maintain a healthy body before, during and after pregnancy. Here, she answers a few common questions you may have about getting your stomach back after having a baby.
What happened to my stomach?
- You may have decreased tone, excess skin, stretch marks, or a dark line down the center of your abdomen.
- Your uterus has been stretched out and your stomach muscles altered to accommodate for your growing baby.
First of all, every woman is different. Your body size, level of activity, weight gain during pregnancy, and even the elasticity of your skin can all be factors in shaping your body.
Bonds says, “After giving birth, the abdomen will most likely have decreased tone and seem very flabby to the woman. Most women will also have a few pounds that they’re interested in losing.”
She explains that stretch marks and the dark line (linea negra) are all common for women and unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent them from appearing on your stomach or making them disappear.
How can I improve my shape?
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet during and after pregnancy.
- Exercise or do some type of physical activity.
- Breastfeed or burn extra calories.
If you establish healthy habits during your pregnancy, it will be easier for your shape to return. Bonds reminds women that a healthy lifestyle should not just be about your body image, but also about your baby.
“Pregnancy is not license to eat,” said Bonds. “You need to remember your womb is growing your child, and your child needs good nutrition. I want people to be motivated to eat healthy because of their growing baby.”
She said women who maintain some type of activity during pregnancy, like prenatal yoga or walking, tend to control their weight better and have an easier labor and delivery.
After your baby, there are plenty of ways to improve your shape.
“For most normal healthy women, exercise can be started as soon as a couple weeks after giving birth,” she said. “Breastfeeding is also a great way to burn an extra 500 calories a day. Most breastfeeding women do not have to try to lose weight, if they eat a well balanced diet.”
She clarifies that non-breastfeeding women can also lose weight, if they make an effort to burn a few extra calories. For all women, eating right and exercise also help dodge post-partum blues or depression.
How long will it take for me to get back to normal?
- You’ll see a rapid decline at first, but then you can expect to lose 1-2 lbs. per week.
- It will take approximately 6-9 months after giving birth to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.
It took nine months for your body to adjust before having a baby, so it is understandable to give your body some time to adjust post-baby. It takes patience, so don’t get discouraged.
“The vast majority of women will go back to their normal pre-pregnancy weight within six to nine months of giving birth,” said Bonds.
“Most women see a significant weight loss within the first two weeks after giving birth,” said Bonds. “Because not only have you loss the weight of the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid, but also because the fluid balance within your body will change. You’ll see a rapid decline at first, then after that you can expect maybe a pound or two a week.”
Is it possible to have a flat, toned stomach after having a baby?
- Yes! A number of women are able to lose excess belly fat and regain their muscle tone.
“Absolutely!” encouraged Bonds. “It’s just a matter of eating healthy and watching your portions and getting enough physical activity.”
We want you to feel confident before, during and after your pregnancy. Check out our women’s health issues for more tips about pregnancy and wellness.