Pregnancy is a wonderful experience, but it also changes your body like never before. Apart from the swollen ankles, sensitive breasts the most significant change is your expanding belly. The fact that your belly is stretched out is signifying you of a new miracle about to happen- you are creating human life inside your body! That is nothing short of magic. After a healthy birth, although, once things slowly are getting back to normal it can be very challenging to deal with postpartum belly, physically and emotionally. Don’t worry, that is natural.
What made your belly increase in size and change its shape?
Well, it is a combination of some belly fat, hormones secreted due to pregnancy, and some loose skin from carrying your baby. It is natural to gain weight during pregnancy. We know that on average a newborn baby weighs about 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms). The mother’s abdominal muscles have to stretch themselves out, along with stretching the connective tissue around it, to accommodate this baby. In your stomach, the intestine, the sigmoid colon has to shift their positions slightly to make room for the baby. Apart from all this shifting and changing of position, the connective tissue has to increase its elasticity for your new baby- and it does this by producing hormones. All of these changes occur so that your baby can reside peacefully in your stomach.
By when should you lose the weight?
The exact timeline can vary depending on the nature of your body and your pregnancy, but according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you are bound to lose half the weight you have gained during your pregnancy by the first month itself. Once your baby is born- that weight comes off. With the loss of blood, amniotic fluids you drop another couple of pounds easily. To shed the weight fast and naturally, your body will produce more sweat and urine than usual. By six to eight weeks, your uterus is also supposed to shrink to its normal size.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, not only is breastfeeding the best way of providing nourishment to your newborn baby, but it may also help you lose weight. Breastfeeding burns calories like crazy- we’re talking 500 to 800 calories per day!
How to get rid of the postpartum belly?
Firstly, love your post-pregnancy body. Yes, it is not the ideal image projected anywhere- but it should be! Your body worked incredibly hard to give you a baby. Respect that and be grateful. Now, if you want to get back to your shape pre-pregnancy- be patient. Doctors recommend waiting for at least 6 to 8 weeks before exercising, or doing heavy movements post-delivery.
It would be best to consult a medical professional on whether you should exercise, and what intensity should those exercises be of. After that has been determined, here are a few things you can do.
Yes, people swear by crunches to reduce belly fat. However, this isn’t just belly fat. For postpartum belly fat, it is best to first strengthen your core abdominal muscles- the transverse abdominis. To do this the exercise you need to do first is commonly known as a butt bridge. Lie on the floor, bend your legs, and lift your pelvis. Hold for five seconds and lie down again. 20 sets with 5 repetitions should yield results. After you are comfortable with this, move on to other abdominal exercises like forearm planks, scissor crunches, reverse crunches, oblique crunches, and heel touches. Go out for walks whenever you can. Trust me, a newborn will keep you on your toes enough.
Maybe ask someone else to join in for exercises- your partner or your friend! That way you will stay motivated, or they can simply look after your child for some time while you exercise.
Exercise right and exercise smart. Please do not strain your body and do what is comfortable for you.
It is very important for your body to get the right nutrition now, especially since you are feeding your child as well as yourself. However, caring for a newborn who always needs your attention can be mentally and physically exhausting. With no sleep schedule and your “me-time” gone for a toss, it is natural to crave unhealthy food (and it is okay to give in once in a while!) However, to make sure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbs in your body- make sure you are eating enough meat, milk, green leafy vegetables, and lentils. Do your meal prep in big batches so you don’t have to start from scratch every time (and you won’t have the time to, honestly!)
Keep healthy and quick snacks ready. Try snacks made of high fiber elements like cereals, quinoa puffs, rice grain chips. Make a smoothie with fruits and any flavors you enjoy (berries, strawberries, chocolate or vanilla)- and make them in big batches. Keep greek yogurt nearby – sprinkle nuts or raisins and consume!
Belly wraps, waist cinchers, girdles- do they work?
Well, these things do provide support and hold the skin – but it is highly unlikely that they will have any significant impact on your belly’s shape. Belly wraps are the friendliest of these variants; they keep your belly secure and are elastic enough to keep you comfortable. Waist cinchers and corsets are stiffer.
Please be patient. Your body has gone through an incredible change over the last nine months, and it is only natural for your body to get back to its own form after the birth of a baby. You have done an amazing job, so give yourself some credit and don’t be hard on yourself. Your changed body is a sign of a new phase in your life- cherish motherhood!