As you snuggle up to your newborn baby you may silently wonder, “Why do I still look six months pregnant after giving birth?” Well, the answer may not be so complicated. Your body experiences some drastic physical changes during pregnancy to make room for your growing bundle of joy. But if you think you'll have your killer abs back and be running marathons six weeks after delivery, you are mistaken.
After giving birth, you will need to slow down and take care of yourself, while keeping in mind that the path to a successful postpartum recovery period might not be as fast as you thought it might be – and this is okay. The good news is that your baby belly pooch does not have to be permanent.
In this article, we’ll explain why you might still have a postpartum belly and give you some safe and gentle ways to tone your tummy area.
Why Do I Have a Post-Baby Belly?
Before we discuss the reasons for that post-baby belly, we want to remind you that it took your body nine months to grow an entire human being. This is nothing short of a miracle! Don’t be hard on yourself and give yourself the time you need to heal after birth.
Here are three reasons why you might still have a post-baby belly.
Your Shrinking Uterus:
This amazing organ stretches from the size of a big lemon to that of a watermelon during pregnancy. Once the baby is out, whether by vaginal or C-section delivery, the uterus contracts and shrinks to gradually go back down to size. That full process could take up to six weeks or longer. So, the shrinking uterus is part of the reason why you might still look pregnant even weeks after giving birth. With patience and some of the tips we share later in the article, you will gradually return to your pre-pregnancy size.
Of the 13kg average weight gain1 in pregnancy, around 3.6kg is made up of baby, 3.6kg of uterus and placenta, 3.6kg is fluid, and around 2kg is fat/weight gain. A lot of that weight comes out with baby, but plenty of the fluid and the weight gain is held on to for longer. C-section mums will have even more fluid retention due to fluids given inter-operatively. C-section mums will also have some tummy area swelling because of the surgery.
Stretched abdominal muscles:
During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles of the tummy area. Sometimes, this causes the rectus muscles – which are parallel bands of muscle that meet in the middle of the stomach area – to split. This condition is known as diastatis recti or diastatis recti abdominis and typically results in a bulge in the tummy area,2 or “pooch”.
What Can I Do About My Postpartum Belly?
If you're like many mums, you would like to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes, or at least not need to keep wearing your maternity pants. Here are a few gentle and easy tips to try that could help you regain your pre-pregnancy body and slip into your favourite clothes once more.
- If you think you have diastatis recti, you should consult a doctor who can advise you on which exercises are suitable for you. Remember that certain common exercises, like crunches, can aggravate the condition so it’s crucial that you see a doctor before starting any physical activity.
- If you don’t have diastatis recti, you can resume gentle exercise that will help gradually strengthen your core and tummy area. Generally, you’re asked to wait for six weeks and get your doctor’s green light first. Some great exercise options for new mums are walking, swimming, and yoga. As the weeks progress and you recover from the birthing experience (and if you have the all-clear from your doctor), you could start more vigorous exercises like running and hitting the gym once more.
- The kind of food you eat can have a big impact on weight loss. As much as possible, try to stick to a healthy, balanced diet that consists of plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meat and fish. Don’t forget to flush away those toxins by drinking at least eight glasses of water daily.
- Wear a good postpartum belly binder and/or support garment. By wearing these soon after giving birth, you can help flush out those extra fluids that are contributing to your belly, support and strengthen your core muscles, and control swelling. Two good options are the C-Panty C-section Recovery Underwear and the Shrinx Hips Postpartum Hip Compression Belt by UpSpring.
The C-Panty C-section Recovery Underwear
The C-Panty C-section Recovery underwear is a patented postpartum underwear that helps you with C-section recovery. Made just for C-section mums, the C-Panty provides carefully targeted and clinically determined compression over the incision area to help increase comfort and mobility. It can also support postpartum slimming.
With its inbuilt, medical-grade silicone panel, this underwear also assists in minimizing scarring and reducing irritation. Made of comfortable spandex and nylon, these panties are comfortable to wear in Singapore’s humid weather. The best part is that you can wear it immediately after a C-section, unlike traditional binds.
Want to find out more about the C-Panty and buy it? Just click here.