How To Tone Your Stomach After Having A Baby
Congratulations! Having a baby is huge and an amazing accomplishment that comes with some serious changes to the body. And while it is definitely true that many of these changes are amazing and beautiful, such as the miracle of childbirth itself, there are also some changes that a new mum may not feel so great about.
One common post-baby complaint is extra weight around the midsection, which can be difficult to get rid of no matter how much you diet and exercise.
Disclaimer: This is not meant as a general health or fitness article, but rather as a starting point for new mums who want to get their pre-baby body back.
Consult your doctor before beginning any workout routine.
Your Post-pregnancy Body
During pregnancy, the body goes through some incredible changes to accommodate the growing baby - the stomach muscles stretch and separate to make room for the baby, and the breasts grow larger to prepare for nursing.
All of this is absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy, but it can also lead to some less-than-desirable physical changes after baby is born.
Causes Of Hanging Belly After Pregnancy
One common cause of a hanging belly after pregnancy is excess skin; when the stomach muscles stretch and separate to make room for the baby, the skin stretches as well.
This can lead to extra skin that doesn’t snap back into place after baby is born.
Another cause could be attributed to weak abdominal muscles - the abdominal muscles are stretched and weakened during pregnancy, and they may not be as strong as they were pre-pregnancy.
This can make it difficult to tone the stomach area and may contribute to a bulge or “pooch” around the midsection.
Physical Problems After Pregnancy
In addition to the cosmetic concerns of a hanging belly after pregnancy, there are also some physical problems that can occur. One of these is lower back pain.
When the stomach muscles are weak or stretched, they may not be able to provide enough support for the spine. This can lead to pain in the lower back and hips.
Many experience incontinence post-baby. This is more common in those who have had multiple pregnancies, but it can happen after a single pregnancy as well.
The weakened abdominal muscles may not be able to support the pelvic floor properly, leading to leaks when coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Separated Stomach Muscles
Separated stomach muscles or "diastasis recti", occurs when the abdominal muscles stretch and separate to make room for the baby.
The separation can range from mild to severe, and it may not be noticeable right away.
As mentioned earlier, you may notice a bulge or “pooch” around your midsection, or you may feel like your stomach is protruding more than it did before pregnancy.
The separation of the abdominal muscles can also cause lower back pain and difficulty toning the stomach area.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
One of the best ways to deal with a hanging belly after pregnancy is to do pelvic floor muscle exercises, also known as "Kegel" exercises; these exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and they can become weakened during pregnancy and childbirth.
To do Kegels, simply squeeze the same muscles that you would use to stop urinating.
Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this 10 times, 3 times per day.
Alternatively, you can also try this exercise: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your stomach just below your navel.
As you breathe in, slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor. As you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles and draw your navel toward your spine. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat.
Doing these exercises regularly can help to tone the abdominal muscles and aid treating a hanging belly after pregnancy.
How you Can Ease Your Back Pain
There are a number of things you can do to ease your back pain:
- Try to maintain good posture. When standing, keep your shoulders back and down, and tuck your stomach in. When sitting, avoid slouching or crossing your legs. Instead, sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you need to lift something heavy, use proper lifting techniques. Bend at your knees, not at your waist, and keep the object close to your body as you lift.
- Try sleep on your side in a fetal position with a pillow between your knees. This will help to take the pressure off of your lower back.
- Incorporate some gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, where possible - these can help to stretch and tone the muscles in your back, which can ease your pain.
Can you get a toned stomach after pregnancy?
Yes, it is possible to get a toned stomach after pregnancy. However, it may be more difficult than it was pre-pregnancy due to the stretching of the abdominal muscles and skin during pregnancy. It is important to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program post-pregnancy.
How long does it take for stomach skin to tighten after pregnancy?
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for stomach skin to tighten after pregnancy. This will depend on the individual, as well as how much the skin stretched during pregnancy.
Having a baby is an amazing experience that comes with lots of changes, both physically and emotionally.
It can be difficult to adjust to your new body, especially if you're dealing with a hanging belly after pregnancy. However, there are things you can do to help ease the transition.
Just remember: you birthed a human and things are going to be different from here on in, but that doesn't mean you can't still love your post-baby body.
Don't give yourself a hard time if things don't snap back into place immediately - it takes time, patience, and some hard work. But if it's what you want, you'll get there!