Though the baby is every bit as gorgeous as we hoped, our belly after birth is not quite as we imagined!
Nine months pregnant, your belly looks gigantic, but wonderful. With shiny skin stretched neatly over it and outie belly button pulled taut, you’re pretty proud of it, to be honest. You rub the bump with creams and oils, and mentally pat yourself on the back for all the loving care you’ve given your body, which will surely be rewarded after B-Day, when a flat tummy will be yours again.
Ha! Oh, the daydreams we have during our first pregnancy!
The skin, even after being carefully nourished with oils, is like a crumpled carrier bag, the flesh like a shrunken soufflé. It might seem as if there is no way all that wrinkled skin and blubber will ever a toned, smooth stomach again.
But it can be. It just takes time, effort and the right exercises.
You can start right away. Keep on rubbing those oils in, to improve your skin’s elasticity and help it very slowly tighten around your ‘new’ belly. Don’t forget, you lost about 8lbs, kind of suddenly, so your skin has a lot of catching up to do.
So, then there’s the jelly wobble to deal with. Your belly after birth may stick out, feel funny, hurt, or still ‘look pregnant’. All of that’s normal in the early days. But it is so important that you don’t rush trying to get it back into shape, or do the wrong exercise.
For 8 weeks, all you should be doing to help restore your tummy is finding the muscles in your pelvic floor and stomach again. You can do this by gently drawing your belly button towards your spine on a slow exhale while lifting your pelvic floor. Don’t ‘squeeze’ at the front; instead deeply lift the middle of your pelvic floor. Keep shoulders and chest at ease, relax everything as you inhale, contract as you exhale.
If you can manage it, a daily walk would be great, but more than anything your body needs rest – and time – to heal.
After 8 weeks, you can gradually increase your activity, all the while listening to your body’s cues. Nothing should HURT. To burn fat, choose low impact exercise like brisk walking – walk up hills, swing your arms as you move, feel your blood pumping.
Although it may be tempting to go full pelt into belly busting mode once you start to feel more human again, you need to be mindful of the repair work still to do before you start doing ab exercises that aren’t designed for mums.
- Crunches are bad news!
- Planks will jeopardize proper healing.
- Anything that makes your belly dome is doing you harm.
You have to build the foundations before you can start working on getting the flat tummy you want. The exercises that appear the ‘easiest’, like yoga breathing techniques, and visualizing and connecting with muscles, are essential.
You can’t skip them – and they WILL help you find that flat tummy you dreamt of :)