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Tackling saggy stomach after pregnancy

Is it normal to have loose stomach skin after pregnancy? Physicians say “Yes, of course!”

Your skin stretches to accommodate your baby, and this causes the stomach to look and feel loose after your pregnancy period might have been over.

The major question now is, ‘How long does it take for your loose skin to go back to normal?’ You might be looking for a specific time frame, but it’s not that simple, according to doctors.

A lot of factors like genetics, weight, and age determine how quickly loose, saggy stomach goes back to shape after you might have carried a pregnancy.

While carrying postpartum loose skin around your mid-region is not harmful, a lot of women do not like the way it looks, especially since it prevents them from wearing specific styles.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the things you can do to improve the appearance of your postpartum stomach.

Understand the science

A pregnant woman

Doctors say that one of the natural side effects of pregnancy is that a woman’s abdominal muscles stretch out while the baby is growing inside; and that a pregnant woman also gains weight during the period.

Again, a pregnant woman’s body produces hormones that make the connective tissue in the stomach more elastic.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists note that, depending on her body mass index (BMI), a pregnant woman should gain between 5 to 18 kilograms during a pregnancy with one baby; and 11 to 28 kilograms when pregnant with twins.

While experts say that, typically, the new mother will lose some of the weight right after delivery, it is also very important to know the steps leading to firming up that loose stomach skin after childbirth.

Your belly’s journey to loose skin

Stages of pregnancy. Image credit: Verywell

According to Healthline, it is natural for a healthy expectant mother to gain some weight because her abdominal muscles — two parallel bands of muscles that support the core — stretch out during pregnancy.

The average newborn weighs about 3.2kg, and the abdominal muscles and the connective tissue must stretch apart to make room for that.

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

On top of the weight gain and the stretching, the pregnant woman’s body produces hormones to make the connective tissue more elastic. All these combine to have the effects they do on the stomach by the time a woman is delivered of her baby.

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This unavoidable weight gain is one reason why pregnant women are advised to focus more on quality rather than quantity when they eat during pregnancy. That way, weight gain may be controlled, but that is not to say that stretch marks or loose stomach skin can be prevented thereby. Sorry.

Eating well in pregnancy

Image credit: Agrawal
Image credit: 1MG

Do focus on getting a lot of minerals and vitamins through a nutritional diet. This can help control weight gain and also prevent starving your baby.

You can also engage in exercises that are healthy for pregnancy, like yoga and abdominal muscle exercises, all of which will strengthen you and keep your body agile.

Road to recovery after childbirth
Now that pregnancy time is over, what are your options? If you feel unhappy looking at your saggy stomach after delivery, here are some of the things you need to do.

Prioritize exercise: After childbirth, a woman may take up exercises that strengthen her abdominal muscles.

Postpartum Ab Workout Plan

However, note that most doctors and physical therapists recommend waiting six weeks before starting a formal exercise programme if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery; or eight weeks if you had a cesarean section.

Take collagen supplements: The body naturally produces collagen, which is the protein responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. However, the body produces less collagen as we age. This is why taking collagen supplements may be one of the best ways to ensure that your loose stomach skin gets better after delivery. Again, talk to your doctor before you start any medication.

Foods for postpartum health. Image credit: Culinary Nutrition

Proper nutrition

Some Nigerian soups for swallow and white rice

As with pregnancy, after childbirth, eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, the right amount of fat, and protein can help boost your muscles, which of course makes the skin firmer.

Avoid eating late or consuming junk food, as these do not help. You also need to ensure that you drink enough water, as this also improves the appearance of your skin.

How long before my postpartum tummy firms up?

A postpartum stomach

According to Medical News Today, loose stomach skin may never regain its pre-pregnancy appearance without medical treatment. “However, diet and exercise can help reduce the appearance of loose skin after pregnancy over time; and improvement will depend on a woman’s weight and age before pregnancy,” MNT says.

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Weight loss after pregnancy
Also, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Baby’s weight comes off first; followed by a few kilos when you lose blood, fluids, and amniotic fluid.

“For the first week after birth, you may urinate and sweat more because sweating tends to increase as your pregnancy hormone levels drop.

“By the end of the first month, you may have shed up to 9kg without too much effort. After two weeks, your uterus will shrink back to its original size and your stomach 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.”

A breastfeeding mom

Indeed, experts say that breastfeeding moms use 400 to 500 calories daily to make the full amount of milk that most babies need from birth to six 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.

They, however, warned that not all moms drop the pounds quickly while breastfeeding.

The bottom line
Pregnancy is a long, arduous journey for any woman. Therefore, see your scars, the stretch marks, the loose stomach skin, the weight gain and your overall post-pregnancy body as the milestones of the journey to give life to someone who happened to be your baby!

And it is nothing to be ashamed of.

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