During the 40 weeks of pregnancy, the body goes through multiple physical changes. You can experience weight gain, the breasts grow larger, and the pelvis expands to accommodate the growing baby. But after childbirth, the body doesn’t snap back into the form it had before pregnancy.
Read also: Health: How Pregnancy Changes The Brain
What happens to your stomach after childbirth?
The postpartum belly is softer, with more skin and protrudes further. But every person’s body is different after during and after pregnancy. The stomach can appear bloated or deflated. It can also resemble a balloon, a soft pooch. For many people, it will also have lots of stretch marks, and the dark vertical line along the belly, linea nigra, will be more pronounced.
For some, the stomach will deflate within hours of childbirth. And others will remain with a big belly for years, depending on their diet during pregnancy. All stomachs are natural and normal and mothers shouldn’t feel shamed for the changes their bodies get after pregnancy.
Having just delivered, it’s also possible to develop diastasis recti—abdominal separation. This is a condition where the abdominal muscles thin and widens as the stomach expands. As a result, a gap develops down the centre of the belly and the tissue connecting either side of the abdominal wall weakens.
How the belly changes week by week
As mentioned earlier, every mother’s body is different. However, there are general guidelines that you can observe to see how your postpartum belly will change.
It’s possible to lose up to 5.4kg after birth. This depends on the weight of the baby and the amount of amniotic fluid and placenta. Your belly can still look like you are 6 months pregnant.
2. First six weeks
The belly becomes smaller as the uterus slowly shrinks. Excess fluids are also flushed out of the body. The enlarged abdominal muscles and lax belly skin firms up. A C-section scar heals after about two weeks. But full recovery from the surgery may take six weeks.
6 Tips To Heal Faster After A C-section
3. 6-8 weeks after delivery
The uterus is back in its usual position. Some of the baby weight is gone but to get fully trimmed and toned may require exercise and strength training, especially the abdominal muscles.
Postpartum loose belly skin
Sagging skin after birth is normal and natural but it makes many parents uncomfortable. The stretching of the skin during pregnancy is necessary to accommodate the growing foetus. It’s also possible to lose all elasticity in the belly.
It takes time for the skin to regain its elasticity. You can try some toning exercises like sit-ups, belly crunch and the plank when you’ve recovered from pregnancy. Your doctor can also recommend an abdominal binder to hold the loose skin and avoid injury if you delivered by C-section. Give your body time to readjust before resorting to cosmetic surgery.
How quickly can you bounce back?
Weight loss after pregnancy differs from regular weight loss because the body that has just delivered a baby is different. It will also depend on how much you weighed before the pregnancy. If you had a high body fat percentage beforehand, weight loss may take longer.
Other factors that will affect your postpartum weight loss include:
- Physical activity
- How much your stomach grew
- Number of pregnancies
It may also be toxic to think of it as “bouncing back”. Pregnancy is a transition and your body will never be exactly the same again. You may get stretchmarks, looser skin, bigger breasts, or a stomach that looks constantly bloated. There is no specific “right way” for your body to look after pregnancy. Health is what’s important.
You need to embrace your new body and be kind to yourself. Body image may still affect you especially if you’re still sporting the baby weight. Your doctor will give you guidelines on how to manage a healthy postpartum diet and suitable postpartum exercises. However, if you still look at your body negatively, you will never be happy no matter what weight you achieve.
A few simple ways to boost your self-confidence are to get a makeover, do up your hair, and makeup, get a new wardrobe, get manicures or pedicures and other forms of self-care. If you’re still struggling with your self-esteem even after doing everything right, you may need to talk with a mental health professional. Your stomach will always be different after childbirth but it is not something to be looked down upon. A professional can make the transition into your postpartum body a lot easier.
8 Reasons Why You Should Work Out When Pregnant
Weight Loss: Tips To Get Rid Of Belly Fat
7 Pregnancy Myths You Should Ignore
5 Great Apps For Pregnancy And Post Pregnancy
6 Must-Have Beauty Products For Pregnancy