There is something special about nurturing a life inside of you, and it's a superpower that women are blessed with. However, life as a new mommy is challenging, for it seeks you to juggle between newfound responsibilities towards your baby and the need to nourish and replenish your body and mind back to the pre-pregnancy state. And if you are like most new moms, you are eager to get rid of the postpartum belly to be able to slip into your old jeans.
In this article, we will be guiding you through your journey of reclaiming your body by providing some valuable tips for losing belly fat after you have delivered your baby. However, you must understand that post-pregnancy weight loss takes time and requires a lot of patience.
What exactly happened to your belly?- Pregnancy Weight Gain
If you are a new mommy, you might have pondered what is making your belly bulge, if it is the belly fat or the hormones or what? Well, it's the little of everything, here's how:
The Institute of Medicine sets gestational weight guidelines based on the BMI range. For instance, a woman with a normal BMI is recommended to gain 25-35 pounds. If a woman's BMI is underweight, she will have to gain more weight than the standard recommendation or run the risk of pregnancy complications.
Further, an average newborn weighs about 7 pounds; for which your rectus abdominis (abdominal muscles), that runs along the stomach's midline, has to separate. The connective tissue gets thin, weak and stretches sideways to make room for your baby, which is the root cause of the belly bulge forward and the waistline to widen. This phenomenon, as explained above, is known as "Diastasis recti," which is commonly observed during and following the pregnancy. Apart from the recommended weight gain and stretching, your body produces hormones during the pregnancy to make connective tissue even more elastic.
So here's a quick reminder for you to celebrate your body for what it has done and know that an immediate flat tummy is a hyperbole and better suited to celebrities with personal trainers and live-in nannies.
Tips to lose postpartum belly
Most new moms deal with the anxiety of how to lose weight after delivering the baby, and hence we came up with a few valuable tips that could help you in your journey to reclaim your pre-pregnancy body.
Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding is not only great for building your baby's immunity but also helps you lose belly fat and reduce the postpartum belly. This is because when you breastfeed, your body uses the fat cells stored during pregnancy along with the calories from your diet to produce the milk and feed your baby. It is estimated that breastfeeding can help burn 300-500 calories per day on average.
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Many women make the disastrous mistake of skipping meals or replacing a meal with dietary supplements post-childbirth, not realizing that maintaining the proper diet is crucial for breastfeeding and promoting healthy weight loss after pregnancy. Your food should be enriched with micronutrients to help keep the newborn's body's metabolic cycle along with post-natal development.
- You should eat more plant foods, including leafy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Limit your intake of sugar and salt.
- Eat small and frequent meals with a mix of proteins and carbs, which will keep your energy last longer.
Gone are those days when women were asked to wait for a few weeks after childbirth to begin their exercise regime. If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and have exercised during pregnancy, it is generally safe to start with a light workout routine within delivery days. We, however, recommend you seek advice from your healthcare provider before you start with any exercise program. Have a look at a few of these workout routines you can include fitness regime:
The easiest form of exercise post-childbirth is walking. It may not sound like much of a workout
, but while you are dealing with those postpartum headaches, soreness, and body aches, it is particularly beneficial. And the best part of it is your baby could be your companion. You can start by taking a stroll and gradually speed up your walk. You can bring along the baby in a breathable carrier bag
, which can add extra weight and increase the benefit of this simple yet effective exercise.
- Deep belly breathing with abdominal contractions-
A powerful yoga breathing exercise that helps in toning and strengthening your abs and belly. It has numerous other benefits, such as improving core muscle stability, lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, etc.
- Sit in a comfortable position and breathe deeply, drawing air from the diaphragm upwards.
- Contract and hold your abs tight while inhaling and relax them while exhaling.
- Gradually increase the amount of time you can hold your abs.
As we mentioned above, the connective tissues between your abs had to stretch out to make room for your baby. Post-pregnancy, these connective tissues tend to heal and repair themselves. However, research shows that tummy crunches done too early could stretch the connective tissue even more and make it thinner and weaker. Pelvic tilts, therefore, are a great way to kickstart your core strengthening exercise.
- Tie a sheet around your tummy to support your abs.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and bend your legs.
- Put your belly button in towards your spine and lift your pelvic region off the floor
- Tighten your butt and hold in that position for 5-10 seconds
- Try doing 20 reps of 5 sets each.
- Tummy tightening exercises-
Within 8-12 weeks, your body should be ready to move on to more profound abdominal exercises (we yet again emphasize the need to consult your health care provider before you start any of these exercises)
- Forearm Plank- Lie down with your forearms and toes touching the floor. Suck in your belly and tighten your butt. You may hold this position for 15-20 seconds to start with and then gradually increase the time as you build your stamina.
- Reverse crunch:Lie down on your back. Keep your knees bent and your thighs at 90 degrees to the ground. Using your abs, bring your knees towards your chest and hold in for two counts and repeat this 10 -12 times each.
Belly wraps or maternity belts help to tuck your abs and accelerate the uterus's process of shrinking back to its original size. It also helps improve body posture and reduce back pain. All you have to do is wrap your midsection with a cotton, polyester and spandex broadcloth fabric
, but make sure it is too tight or too loose. We recommend you talk to your doctor before wearing the belt or wrapping your tummy with a soft cloth.
You are eating healthy, exercising right, regularly breastfeeding your baby, but your belly is still acting stubborn? You must remember that every pregnancy is different, and everybody heals and replenishes itself differently post-pregnancy. Your journey towards reclaiming your body is unique to you and requires you to be patient and trust the process. You may continue with your regime while staying under the constant guidance of your health care provider.
Lastly, we would like to sign off by reminding you that your body has undergone multiple changes in that span of 9 months; give it all the love, care, and appreciation, for it was the place that carried your world, which is now in your arms!