Just how long does it take for the baby belly to go down? If we were celebrities? Not long at all! This is the high standard that we have to live with (but shouldn’t compare ourselves too). I for one have not had kids (yet), but work in weight loss and hear countless women express how helpless they felt managing their weight post birth. Understandably you would feel overwhelmed! Eating for weight loss isn’t easy at the best of times, but post baby arrival can make it feel like a lost battle. I wanted to do a bit of research into the anatomy of the ‘baby belly’ just so I could get my head around the challenges that are faced…
Why does your belly still look 6 months pregnant 1 day after birth?
Having a baby belly or ‘pregnancy pouch’ (another name) is quite normal. Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, the body slowly caters for the little bundle of joy. When I say cater, I mean:
- abdominal muscles stretching
- uterus stretching
- skin stretching
Unfortunately, these don’t just spring back into original position once your child and placenta are out. They take time to tighten.
How long does it take to ‘tighten’?
The baby centre and NHS discuss that going back to normal may take months and sometimes, the body may not return to exactly what it once was. A women’s progress will be dependent on several factors such as: weight gain during pregnancy, exercise level, normal body size/shape and genetics.
Is there anything I can do to speed this up and get back to normal?
Cheer up -it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to give your body a hand:
- Breastfeeding – This has a double whammy effect because breastfeeding stimulates the uterus to contact and also burns calories. Regularly breastfeeding is the easiest way to get results for little effort.
- Keep moving – Moving doesn’t mean marathons (Settle down perfectionist). Simply walking about routinely is beneficial.
- Work the floor – Pelvic floor exercises help with not only tightening your core, but also with controlling a leaky bladder (common amongst women post birth). The Chartered Society of
Physiotherapy have some good resources for pelvic floor exercises.
Although there is no particular food you can eat (sorry ladies, there’s no silver bullet), keeping a healthy diet is the key. If you need to get your weight down (your doctor or nurse can let you know this) consider these diet musts:
- Eat regular meals – This doesn’t mean grazing, it means eating a breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll find this most challenging in your early weeks post birth. Here are some great suggestions I have come across – keep ready meals in the freezer, get your family to cook for you, chill/ freeze meals and have pre made sandwiches available. Something to eat is better than nothing! Skipping meals can make managing weight difficult.
- Portion control – A well portioned meal (lunches and dinners) should be 1/3 carbohydrate, 1/3 protein and 1/3 vegetables.
- Keep hydrated – Sip on water over the day. Concentration is supported when you are adequately hydrated. You’ll be tired (Captain Obvious statement) so instead of reaching for sugary treats, go for water instead.
Feeling too overwhelmed? Chat to a dietitian who can give you tailored advice to meet your busy lifestyle demands.
Oh and Kate Middleton, if you are reading this, congratulations for your new little family! Don’t feel pressured to lose that bump at ridiculous speeds. You are just like every other women at the end of the day!
Perryn Carroll- Registered Dietitian