Often, the part of our bodies hardest-hit by having a baby is our stomach. The skin can be stretched and become puckered, the muscles are weakened, and excess fat can accumulate – especially if we decided that baby really needed a daily dose of banana bread throughout our pregnancy.
While there’s no overnight solution, there are a number of ways to tackle your tum to make it smoother, flatter and less jiggly.
1. Exercise two ways
You need to lose the weight from your stomach area while working your ab muscles.
Aerobic exercise boosts your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn. The more calories you burn, the more likely you are to reduce the fat covering your abdominal muscles. Jogging, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, and riding your bike will all make a difference.
Exercises that target your abs – such as crunches and Pilates – will strengthen the muscle, improve your posture and make your stomach look smaller. And if you’re a member of a gym, ask about boxing-style classes. The waist movements each time you swing a punch are another great way to exercise your abs.
If you’re lacking motivation, check out this article where mums share 9 ways to get their exercise mojo back. And if you’re stumped about how you can possibly fit exercise into your day, check out this article which shares 5 ways for mums to find the time to exercise.
2. Avoid Bloating
There are certain foods that will cause your stomach to become more bloated, and avoiding them can make your stomach flatter.
Avoid fizzy drinks, excess salt, and overloading on carbohydrates like bread, pasta and potatoes. Limit the amount of gum you chew and avoid excess sugar, alcohol and fast food, all of which can contribute to bloating. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day to flush out excess sodium and prevent water retention.
3. Eat Well
Be sure to eat a well-balanced diet containing mostly whole foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates, including white flour and sugar.
4. Style your stomach
While you’re waiting for the exercise and nutrition to take effect, employ some clever slenderising strategies to the way you dress:
- Avoid flimsy fabric – it’ll simply show every bulge.
- Emphasise your strongest features – great legs, or a lovely decolletage – and divert attention away from your tummy.
- Belt your garments at the thinnest part of your torso.
- Focus on fit, not size.
- Structured tailoring is your friend.
- Invest in comfortable and attractive shapewear.
5. Give it time
It will take time for you post-baby belly to resemble your pre-baby belly. For some, this can be as fast as 2 weeks. Yet for others, it never looks the same. This article showcases a number of different-looking post baby bellies, for a good reality check. As a rule of thumb, allow 9 months of sensible eating and exercise to get back into a similar, pre-baby shape.
6. Cosmetic procedures
Surgical procedures can be an option to remove excess skin or fat. But be sure to investigate them very, very carefully. Like all surgeries, Liposuction or a Tummy Tuck can be risky, not to mention expensive. Allow at least a year after your last child before even contemplating (see point 5.). Make sure you consult with a reputable plastic surgeon, and seek different medical opinions before progressing. And while this option may seem like a quick-fix, long-term you will still need to exercise, and eat healthily for your tummy (and body) to be in great shape.
7. Aim for acceptance
Our bodies change. It’s as simple as that. Self-acceptance, while not always easy, is certainly an aim worthy of aspiration, as one of our readers, Rae, shared in this article about women who look better after baby.
“My boobs are less pert, my tummy is more wobbly, and I’ve aged. Yet, getting outside and active with the kids has made me fitter and stronger than ever before, and I’m proud of that. So I just focus on the positive parts, and those parts are better than before I had kids.”
For more inspiring stories of acceptance, and to see what real mummy tummies look like, click here.
How do you feel about your post-baby belly? And what tips can you share?