belly fat

What Are The Tips To Reduce Belly Fat After Pregnancy?

Congratulations! Your body just grew into a new human being. That’s super incredible! Getting your body back after having a baby is not as hard as you might think.

After pregnancy, many women experience the dreaded pot belly. Even though it’s a natural consequence of having a baby, this is not what you want to have happened. 

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably got a few “battle wounds” to prove you came through. Yup, we’re talking about postpartum fun like exhaustion, roller-coaster emotions, tears and that postpartum belly.

On some days, you might even feel like you have to choose between a flat tummy and newborn cuddles!

But at least initially, celebrate your body for what it’s done and know that an immediate flat tummy is overrated and perhaps better suited to celebrities with personal trainers and live-in nannies.

After that, you can take heart in knowing things you can do to lose the baby weight that seems to hang out at your midsection stubbornly.

There are ways to reduce your post-pregnancy belly fat and get back into shape as soon as possible so read on for some tips!

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What happened to my belly?

Baby’s out… so what’s making the belly bulge? Is it belly fat or loose skin or hormones or what?

Well, it’s a little of everything.

You gained some weight, which is exactly what you were supposed to do. Your abdominal muscles — two parallel bands of muscles that support your core — stretched out.

Think about it: The average newborn weighs about 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms). Your abdominal muscles (abs) and the connective tissue had to stretch apart to make room for that.

At the same time, your small intestine, sigmoid colon, and stomach politely shifted over to give even the baby more room.

On top of the weight gain and the stretching, your body produces hormones to make the connective tissue more elastic. So breathe in that newborn scent — you worked hard to earn it.

Here are the reasons you might still look pregnant. 

Think of your belly like a balloon. As your baby grows, your stomach slowly stretches. Now, when your baby comes out, the balloon doesn’t pop. 

Instead, there’s a slow release of the air inside the balloon. And if you have noticed, balloons tend to hold up a little air even when they are shrunken, and most of the air is out.

After your baby is born, the hormonal changes in the body cause the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy shape slowly. 

But it takes 7-8 weeks for the uterus to come back to the normal size.

The extra food that you have consumed during your pregnancy to nourish your baby gets stored in the form of fat. 

And as you know, belly fat is stubborn – it will take time and proper care to shed that fat.

belly fat (3)

Timeline for losing the postpartum belly

You know how you got it — now how do you lose it?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses the Institute of Medicine guidelines for weight gain in pregnancy.

Depending on your body mass index (BMI), you should gain between 11 and 40 pounds (5 to 18 kilograms) during pregnancy with one baby and 25–62 pounds (11 to 28 kilograms) when pregnant with twins. The good news is that you’ll lose some of that weight right after delivery.

Baby’s weight comes off first — that’s obvious. But, you’ll also drop about another few pounds right away when you lose blood, fluids, and amniotic fluid.

For the first week after birth, you may find that you’re running to the bathroom more often and that when you wake up in the night, your pyjamas are soaked with sweat. (Sweating tends to increase as your pregnancy hormone levels drop.)

By the end of the first month, you may have shed up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms) without too much effort. Wait another two weeks for your uterus to shrink back to its original size, and your tummy will look flatter.

And if you’re breastfeeding, know that breastfeeding isn’t only about feeding and cuddling — it may also help you lose weight.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breastfeeding moms use 400 to 500 calories daily to make the full amount of milk that most babies need from birth to 6 months.

And at least one study showed that moms who breastfeed exclusively for more than three months tend to lose more weight than those who don’t. (That said, not all moms drop the pounds quickly while breastfeeding.)

Most doctors and physical therapists recommend waiting six weeks before starting a formal exercise program if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery or eight weeks if you had a cesarean delivery.

So are you a couple of months postpartum and feeling stronger and more like your old self?

Here’s how to be proactive and safely wave farewell to your belly.

Get-Your-Body-Back Moves for New Moms

Walking

Why It’s Good For You: It may not sound like much of a workout, but walking is one of the simplest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth.

How It’s Done: Start with an easy stroll. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to a pumped-up power walk. 

But a gentle walk can still do wonders for you and your body, especially in the beginning. Also, bringing a baby along in a front pack will add extra weight to increase the benefits.

For a variation, try walking backward or walking in a zigzag pattern to help keep your muscles guessing. 

You should not include a baby in this activity until you’ve mastered it and are certain of your balance.

Deep Belly Breathing With Abdominal Contraction

Why It’s Good for You: This exercise is so easy you can do it an hour after giving birth. It helps relax muscles, and it starts the process of strengthening and toning your abs and belly.

How It’s Done: Sit upright and breathe deeply, drawing air from the diaphragm upward. 

Contract and hold your abs tight while inhaling and relax while exhaling. Gradually increase the amount of time you can contract and keep your abs.

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Head Lifts, Shoulder Lifts, and Curl-Ups

Why They’re Good For You: These three movements help strengthen back muscles. They also tone the tummy and abs and burn calories.

How They’re Done:

Head lifts: Lie on your back with your arms along your sides. Keeping your lower back flush to the floor, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. 

Relax your belly as you inhale. As you exhale, slowly lift your head and neck off the floor. Then, inhale as you lower your head back down.

Shoulder lifts:

  1. When you can do ten head lifts with ease, try this move.
  2. Get in the same position you did for head lifts.
  3. Inhale and relax your belly. 

As you exhale, raise your head and your shoulders off the floor, reaching your arms and hands toward your knees.

If this strains your neck, fold both hands behind your head, but don’t pull on your neck. Inhale as you lower your head and shoulders back down.

Curl-ups: When you can do ten shoulder lifts, move on to this. Start in the same position on the floor. 

Lift your torso until it’s about halfway between your knees and the floor behind you. Reach toward your knees and hold for 2 to 5 seconds. 

Then, slowly lower yourself down.

Don’t forget to breathe. Exhale when you exert. Inhale when you relax.

Kneeling Pelvic Tilt

Why It’s Good for You: This aaahh-inspiring exercise helps tone your tummy. Strengthening your abs can also relieve back pain.

How It’s Done: Start on all fours, toes touching the floor behind you, arms straight down from your shoulder line, palms touching the floor. 

Your back should be relaxed and straight, not curved or arched. As you inhale, pull your buttocks forward, tilting your pelvis and rotating your pubic bone upward. Hold for a count of three, and release.

Kegels

Why They’re Good for You: This classic exercise will help you tone bladder muscles and help reduce the risks of incontinence associated with childbirth. 

The more Kegels you do, and the longer you hold them, the better control you will have over those leaks caused by sneezing, laughing, or picking up your baby.

How They’re Done: Your goal is to contract and hold the muscles that control urine flow. 

To get which muscles they are, start by doing the exercise while you use the bathroom. Then, as you urinate, manipulate your muscles until the stream temporarily stops. 

Then release and let the urine flow. Remember what that feels like, and when you’re not urinating, contract, hold and release those same muscles. Try to do this ten times per session, three times a day.

Bonus Workouts for Baby and Mom

It can be hard to find time away from your baby in the early months, so try these exercises that you can do with your infant. 

Could you take caution when completing them? You may want to practice first using a doll or a rolled-up blanket or towel that’s the same size as your baby. 

Do the moves full-out only when you’re certain there’s no danger of dropping your baby. 

Ensure you’re fit enough and have a good enough sense of balance to assure your and your baby’s safety.

The baby glider: Holding your baby close to your chest, make a forward lunge with your left leg (take a big step forward and bend your knee). 

Don’t let your toes go past your knee. Then return to the starting position and lunge with the opposite leg. 

This will help strengthen your legs, back muscles, and core. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.

The baby bouncer: This move is similar to the baby glider, but instead of forwarding lunges, do side lunges — stepping to the side instead of to the front — and do a squat. 

Reach back with your behind as if you’re sitting in a chair, keeping your knees over your ankles. Repeat 8-10 times to each side.

Rock-a-baby squats and curls: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Holding your baby tight and close to your chest, squat down, allowing your baby’s feet to touch the floor. As you rise, bring the baby closer to your wardrobe. Repeat 15 times. Note: You should do this exercise only when your baby is at least 10 to 12 weeks old.

Tips To Shed Belly Fat After Pregnancy

belly fat

Breastfeed Your Baby

Breastfeeding not only helps build your baby’s immunity but also helps you lose the baby fat and reduce the post-pregnancy belly. 

It does so by accelerating the shrinking of the uterus. So talk to your doctor and start breastfeeding to get rid of that belly pooch.

Walk

The simplest form of exercise, not just after childbirth but in general, is walking. It does not seem like much at one go, but it is particularly beneficial when you are recovering from frequent body aches, headaches, and soreness. 

Moreover, the fun part is, your little one could be your companion. So spending the evenings taking a gentle walk in the park is a wonderful idea. 

Carrying your baby in a front pack is a good idea too. Once you gain control over your body, you can make the necessary changes. Track your recovery with regular visits to the doctor and proceed accordingly.

Get Good Nutrition

Many women make the trivial yet disastrous mistake of skipping their meals or replacing a proper meal with dietary supplements post-childbirth. 

You must maintain your diet to produce enough milk. In addition, it should be enriched with micronutrients that help keep the metabolic cycle of the newborn’s body and ensure proper postnatal development. 

Trust the nutritionists and doctors when they say you need your energy. Have green leafy veggies, other colourful veggies, lean protein, spices, green tea, and drink a lot of water to flush the toxins.

Workout

If you want to lose that stubborn belly fat after childbirth, you must sneak in at least 20-30 minutes of cardio and strength training. 

Do it when your baby is fast asleep—workout when your baby is sleeping. 

Make crunches, push-ups, planks, tricep dips, high knees, spot jogging, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, jackknife, bicep curls, tricep extensions, Russian twists. Leg raises, etc. 

But first, you must talk to your doctor to know if there are any exercises that you must avoid.

Get Rest

Not resting enough causes toxin build-up in the body, which causes inflammation. 

When the body is in a continuous state of inflammation, it causes the fat receptors to move to the central region. 

And the fat molecules get stored in the belly region. With a newborn in the house, it can get a little tricky to get proper sleep, but take as much rest as you can.

Avoid Extreme Diets

Sometimes, new moms panic and slip into depression post-childbirth. 

And to get back in shape, they take extreme measures and go on diets that make them malnourished and ultimately affect the baby’s health. 

Starving yourself will never help; it will only make the situation worse. Instead, talk to a dietitian to determine what, how much, and when you should eat to lose the flab quickly.

Relieve Stress By Practicing Meditation

A newborn baby is quite a handful, and for a few months, you will not be able to do things that you love (such as painting, reading a book, etc.) to help relieve your stress. 

So, it would help if you practised meditation – it will help you focus, minimize the background noise, release the negative energy from your system, and improve your sleep quality. 

And most importantly, you will not disturb your baby’s sleep.

Try Belly Wraps

Like body wraps for total body weight loss, belly wraps or maternity belts help tuck your abs and accelerate the process of the uterus shrinking back to its original size. 

This is one of the most old-fashioned ways of reducing belly fat. However, it also helps improve posture and reduces back pain. 

What you have to do is wrap your midsection with a piece of a soft cloth. Make sure it is not too tight or too loose. 

However, you can also use the maternity belts available in the market. Talk to your doctor before wearing the strap or wrapping your tummy with a soft cloth.

Go For A Full Body Massage

A massage can be very effective when losing body weight without sweating it out at the gym. 

Get a massage that will target your belly and help reduce the tummy fat. 

It will release and distribute fat in the body and improve metabolism, thereby helping you get rid of the baby fat. Get a massage every week to see the best results.

The takeaway

You’re eating healthily, exercising, working your abs… and your belly is still there. What now?

Don’t worry if you still have a belly at three or even six months postpartum. The saying “9 months to put it on; 9 months to take it off” may not be sound science, but it did come from the experience of many moms just like you.

If you feel that the baby weight has become part of you forever or you have any other questions, reach out to your health practitioner for help.

And take another whiff of that sweet baby smell and resist the temptation to compare notes with other moms because we’re each on our journey.

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