Female celebrities often display a fit and toned body soon after childbirth. This is not the case for most women, though. The more common experience is that there is still a lot of excess weight left even after the baby is born, and that weight does not disappear by itself.
The hormonal changes of pregnancy and childbirth plus the overwhelming responsibilities of being a mother to a newborn sometimes lead to postnatal depression. Changes in the body compared to its state before the pregnancy also contribute to postnatal depression. Comparing herself with others does not help the new mother, too.
A woman must allocate time to take care of herself after childbirth. This includes taking steps to gradually lose excess weight and become fit. According to Mayo Clinic, women who gave birth naturally with no complications can start doing light exercises a few days after delivery. Those who had a cesarean section or had complications may need to wait for four to six weeks and get their doctor’s clearance before starting to exercise.
The Value of Breastfeeding
Breast milk is the best nutrition for a baby, and it is also beneficial for mothers. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), mothers who breastfeed exclusively have an average weight loss of one to two pounds a month. In general, mothers who breastfeed lose more weight than those who do not. Mayo Clinic explains that this is because milk production is fueled by both the calories from food intake and fat cells stored during pregnancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) adds that breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
LLLI highlights that colostrum, the concentrated milk first produced from mid-pregnancy to a few days after birth, kills harmful microorganisms, provides the baby with immunity from germs, and protects the baby from inflammation. It has a laxative effect that clears out meconium or black stool from the baby, reducing the risk of jaundice. It also helps prevent low blood sugar.
WHO states that antibodies in breastmilk increase protection against several common childhood diseases. Breastfed children are less prone to obesity, are more intelligent, and have a lower risk for diabetes as they age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics for exclusive infant breastfeeding for the first six months. The mother must then continue breastfeeding for at least one year accompanied by the introduction of solid food. WHO adds that breastmilk provides half or more of the nutritional needs of the child up the first four months of its second year.
Mayo Clinic reminds new mothers of the importance of proper nutrition especially when breastfeeding. It promotes healthy weight loss with portion control and limiting sugar and salt intake while eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
LLLI states that women who are breastfeeding must consume a minimum of 1800 calories a day, resulting in a weight loss of about one pound per week. This loss will increase with exercise. It is best to eliminate or reduce the intake of unhealthy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, junk food, and sugary food because they trigger more hunger pangs and lead to overeating.
Regular Post-partum Exercise
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, post-partum exercise helps recovery, improves sleep, elevates mood, boosts energy, relieves stress, and strengthens abdominal muscles. New mothers must start slow, though, such as taking daily brief walks in the early weeks as well as doing gentle stretching.
Breastfeeding women must feed their babies before working out so that the breasts are not engorged. A well-fitting support bra is also necessary.
When starting a fitness routine, begin with 20-to-30-minute sessions a day. Do low-impact aerobics and strengthening exercises for major muscle groups, especially the abdominal and back muscles. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after every session.
If you feel any pain or experience significantly increased bleeding, stop immediately and consult your doctor. As you gain strength, you can gradually increase the intensity and length of your workouts.
The Post-partum Apron Belly
Sometimes, after losing weight, some fat deposits remain in the omentum, a flap under the abdominal muscles and in front of the intestines, resulting in an apron belly. General aerobic exercises can reduce overall body fat but the flap of loose skin remains.
The area under the apron belly traps heat and moisture and is prone to chafing and irritation. It must stay clean and dry, and the use of stomach support bands may help.
A more permanent solution is a tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty. The surgeon removes extraneous fat, sutures the abdominal muscles tight, and stretches the skin while removing excess skin. The result is a flat and toned stomach with the scar concealed in the pubic area’s natural bikini crease.
Bouncing Back to Form
Even if you decide to have an abdominoplasty, this does not exempt you from continuing with a regular fitness routine. New weight gain will reverse the results of the surgery. You must, therefore, work to maintain your newly toned tummy.
Being fit will have a positive impact on your self-image. This will benefit your mood and outlook and your relationship with your baby.
Meta title:How to Flatten Your Belly After Pregnancy
meta desc: Most women still have much weight to lose after childbirth, especially in their stomach area. This must be addressed because it contributes to post-partum depression.