Why Do I Still Have a Post-Baby Belly One Year After Giving Birth?


You carried your baby for nine months in your womb and watched in amazement as your belly grew to accommodate your little love. But one year after giving birth, you find that you still have a post-baby belly. Why is this and how do you reduce your tummy?

Before we delve into these topics and answer your questions, first, we have something very important to say to you.

It took your body nine months to grow a human being, and this, is a miracle. You body went through incredible changes to do this; you even grew a whole new organ (the placenta) to support your little one’s growth.

To expect your body to “bounce back to normal” soon after giving birth is unrealistic and unfair on yourself. While some women do get back into their pre-pregnancy jeans a week after giving birth, you should not compare yourself to them, as every woman’s body is unique. Also, photoshop and filters are easier to use than the patience, time and dedication to getting back in shape the healthy way.

Timeline for losing your post-baby belly

After delivering a baby, whether that be vaginally or via Caesarian section (C-section), your body is going to need some time to heal.

If you had a vaginal delivery, your doctor1 will most probably clear you for exercise soon after birth. A C-section mum will need to wait for longer. Even so, your body – especially your belly area – may take longer to go back to its pre-pregnancy state. Having said this, in Asia including Singapore, it’s quite common to wear a postnatal wrap or a belly wrap to encourage recovery and weight loss, soon after giving birth.

Let’s take a look at how weight loss2 (including around the tummy) generally happens after having your baby.

  • In general, women gain between five to 18 kilograms in pregnancy. Pregnancy weight gain depends on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and weight.
  • Obviously, your baby’s weight is the first to come off immediately after birth. The blood, amniotic and other fluids that leave your body with the birth process also contribute to some immediate weight loss.
  • Within the first week post-birth, you’ll probably find that you sweat a lot, and that you need to use the bathroom more often. These fluids leaving your body will also result in further weight loss.
  • By the end of the first month, some women may lose around nine kilograms. As the uterus keeps shrinking to its original tiny size, you will find further weight loss and reduction of tummy size.
  • Breastfeeding also promotes weight loss (including in the belly area) for some mums. This is because breastfeeding burns more calories and also promotes uterine contractions, which encourage it to shrink.

Many mums still find that they have a belly months after having their baby. And this is completely normal. However, some women who really struggle to lose the tummy even nine months to a year after having their baby may have certain conditions that affect their belly area’s recovery.

Why you might still have a tummy

The most common reason for a lingering post-pregnancy belly is an issue known as diastasis recti.3

Diastasis recti occurs when the tissue that holds your abdominal muscles together stretches or rips – and pregnancy places so much pressure on the belly that this is quite common. In fact, a study in Norway found4 nearly a third of mums have or develop diastasis recti a year after giving birth.

According to WebMD,5 there isn’t one standard procedure that can “fix” this belly gap. Some experts recommend certain exercises that are performed wearing a belly splint, which holds the ab muscles together and protects them. Others encourage gentle exercise like Pilates (but only with a trained instructor) after the gap has closed, which could help strengthen your core. If you think you have diastatis recti, it’s important you get this diagnosis confirmed by a doctor, who can then refer you to a physiotherapist who can recommend exercises.

Another common reason that may contribute to a post-pregnancy belly, is pelvic floor issues.6 The pelvic floor affects things like urination and the ability to hold your internal organs up and in. A weak core can result in a weak pelvic floor. A strong core leads to a strong pelvic floor and potentially, a flatter tummy.

We worked with an exercise therapist, Brooke Cates, to create five targeted exercises that can help you start healing your body and pelvic floor as soon as one day postpartum and can still help even a year after giving birth. You can download the exercises here.

How to support your belly soon after giving birth

At UpSpring, we are here to support you from the moment you give birth. And this includes helping you heal and gently recover your pre-pregnancy belly with specially created products.

1. C-Panty C-Section Recovery Underwear High Waist

Especially for C-section mums, the C-Panty C-section underwear is a patented postpartum underwear that helps you with C-section recovery.

C-Panty C-section panties provide safe levels of compression, incision care and postpartum slimming. They also help protect your C-section incision while keeping you comfortable as you recover.

The C-Panty also features a sewn-in medical-grade silicone panel that helps reduce itchiness and scarring. Medical grade silicone is non-toxic and does not irritate the skin or react to body fluids or other tissue. In fact, it has been shown to be therapeutic for scar treatment, and might help reduce the chances of infection around the cut, too. If you have any concerns, please contact your doctor prior to wearing C-Panty.   

To learn more about the C-Panty, click here. 

2.  Shrinkx Belly Postpartum Belly Wrap

The Shrinkx Belly Postpartum Belly Wrap uses triple compression to support your core muscles and help you get back into your favorite pre-pregnancy clothes sooner. It also helps reduce postpartum swelling and bloating, especially in the belly area.  You could start wearing it as soon as you are comfortable after delivery, and after checking with your doctor. 

Read more about the Shrinkx Belly Postpartum Belly Wrap here

Sending you lots of love, patience and grace, mums. Please don’t compare your body to other mums and simply be kind to yourself. You grew a human! Our bodies are powerful, amazing machines that can be fixed and tweaked if we listen to them. We hope the different possible issues discussed here help you pinpoint what your body needs help with and that you are able to take some positive steps forward to heal.

References

  1. Exercise after Pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published in July 2019. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-after-pregnancy
  2. Timeline for losing the postpartum belly. Healthline. Last medically reviewed on April 29, 2021. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/postpartum-belly#takeaway
  3. Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti). WebMD. Reviewed on November 10, 2020. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/abdominal-separation-diastasis-recti#1
  4. Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Published in 2016. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain | British Journal of Sports Medicine (bmj.com)
  5. Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti). WebMD. Reviewed on November 10, 2020. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/abdominal-separation-diastasis-recti#1
  6. Pelvic Floor Weakness - Signs You Shouldn't Ignore. HuffPost. Updated on January 23, 2014. Retrieved on June 11, 2021 from https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/wendy-powell/pelvic-floor-weakness-sig_b_4100637.html