When I was pregnant I didn’t gain much weight, but I didn’t exercise either, and by week 39 (that’s when my baby was born) my body looked kinda flabby. So my number one goal after delivery was to get my pre-pregnancy body back ASAP. I tried some things and failed. I tried the others and succeeded. It wasn’t easy to find the right way of working on my body right after the baby was born. But eventually, over time and experience, I saw what was working and what things finally brought me to the place where I am right now – happy to see myself in the mirror.
This is very exciting for me, because I’m going to share with you a step by step guide on how to get your body back after giving birth that I’m sure is 100% WORKING! Feel free to ask questions and share your experience in comments below. I’m always happy to see the feedback! 🙂
Postpartum Weighloss: Week 0-4
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
I remember my first day postpartum. I was so shocked that my belly was HUGE! Like I still had another baby in there waiting to come out. It made me so insecure.
The thing is, I didn’t know what was NORMAL postpartum, nor did I know how the body changes after you give birth. How you ache all over and feel weak and exhausted all the time. How sleep deprivation is brutal. Hormonal changes make you feel like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster every single day. You don’t feel like your body belongs to you anymore.
I remember looking into the mirror having no understanding who I was looking at. My body looked okay. It was the inner feeling of another person I couldn’t relate to. The moment you become a mother everything changes. I guess, the hardest part for me was not about the changes in my body, but the changes in overall feeling that I couldn’t recognize.
On top of that, a lot of changes going on that require certain lifestyle adjustments, so the first month postpartum is a transition from your old you to your new self. Try to rest as much as you can and deal with your emotions. Accept yourself and your new body. You’ve just made a new person. Nothing else matters. And don’t worry. It DOES get better over time.
No fresh news here, just a well-known fact that breastfeeding burns 400-600 extra calories a day! Make sure to breastfeed on demand. Not only will it help you shake off some stubborn baby weight, it will aid in milk production and get you to the point of a well-established lactation.
DON’T MISS THIS ARTICLE: 12 THINGS YOU CAN DO WHILE BREASTFEEDING TO PREVENT BREAST SAGGING AFTER WEANING
Drinking enough water is highly important for all metabolic processes in your body, so make sure you drink half of your weight in oz. Should I tell you that people often mistake thirst for hunger and instead of drinking a glass of water, they eat (usually fast carbs).
Especially, if you’re breastfeeding, water is a must to support your milk supply. Drink a glass of water 15 minutes before every meal. You can also use some apps that help you count the amount of water you drink during the day.
Postpartum brain is so unpredictable and forgetting. I know! It was me who somehow put my cellphone in the fridge and was looking for the whole day! Whaaat? So just consider using an app to track your water intake without feeling overwhelmed. 🙂
Some helpful tips here:
- Stay away from junk food
- Cut off sugar and processed foods
- Eat whole foods: fruits, veggies, good proteins, healthy fats
- Three big meals and two snacks
- Plan your meals beforehand
- Ask your husband to do grocery shopping
- Don’t miss a meal time. It always ends badly. You’ll find yourself chewing on a chocolate bar, cause your body needs energy and fast carbs which
isthe easiest and fastest way to get it.
- Take Omega 3 + Vitamin D3 to promote fat loss and boost your metabolism and keep your hormonal mood swings under control.
WEAR A POSTPARTUM GIRDLE
The best way to help your uterus shrink faster and get your belly back to pre-pregnancy form is:
- wearing a postpartum girdle.
The belly is not the only problem you get after delivery. The other thing is your extremely weak lower back! After I gave birth, I couldn’t straighten myself up for a couple of days (until I started wearing the girdle, actually) because my muscles (abs and back) were extremely weak and needed extra support. That’s what a belly band could give you!
Why should I wear a belly band?
The belly band:
- Tightens and compresses belly, hips and waist
- Offers right support and speeds recovery
- Improves posture and relieves pain
- Makes you look skinnier
How long should I wear it?
Usually, the uterus shrinks back to normal during 4-6 weeks postpartum. Wearing a belly band (or girdle) may speed up this process a little. The first week postpartum you can wear the girdle every day around the clock to achieve most of its benefits: help your belly shrink faster and get your skin’s elasticity back. Then you can continue using it only in the daytime up to 3 months or until you feel comfortable without it.
GO FOR A STROLLER WALK
While you still have to pass on any kind of exercises until you doctor says you go for it, walking is what really makes a difference! You HAVE to move. The more you do it, the better.
Postpartum Weightloss: Week 4-6
CHECK FOR DIASTASIS RECTI
What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis Recti is a separation of abdomen muscles that usually happens during pregnancy (which is okay). Normally, this physiological diastasis in pregnancy closes up by itself by the 4th week postpartum. But if you notice that the baby weight had gone away leaving the belly pooch on its place, make sure to check yourself for diastasis.
To get to the bottom of the problem, I found this Q&A about diastasis in pregnancy , which is very helpful and gives every detail for why diastasis may occur during pregnancy. I think every woman should know about this. Because you never know if it’s going to be your problem or not. (And if it is, you have to know how to deal with it!)
How you can check yourself for diastasis recti?
- Lie down, bend your knees and put your feet on the floor
- Put your hand (fingers to be exact) in the area around your belly button
- Press your fingers into your navel area
- Put another hand above your head and lean forward as if you are about to do a belly crunch
- If you feel a gap of at least two finger widths between the muscles as they contract, you have a diastasis. You would also want to check the below and above your belly button area for diastasis because the separation may be in any area down the middle line of your abs. A gap as wide as four or five fingers is considered severe.
When to check yourself for diastasic recti?
It’s never too late to check yourself for diastasis. Many women don’t even know what it is and they live with diastasis for many years. As I mentioned above, your abdomen muscles will separate during pregnancy and it takes them around 4 weeks to get back in place. So the earliest you may check yourself for diastasis is 1 month postpartum.
What if you figured you have diastasis recti 1 year postpartum?
Don’t worry. You can still work on it and make it close up getting your pre-pregnancy flat belly back. I don’t say it’s easy. It takes a lot of work and commitment. But it’s 100% possible!
Different Variations of Diastasis Recti
Why this is so important to check yourself for diastasis?
Because when you have a diastasis recti almost every exercising routine for the abs is strictly forbidden, since it may actually worsen the condition and your abs may separate even stronger, making your belly pooch more obvious and gap between your abdomen muscles wider.
What exercises can you do when you have diastasis recti?
- Forget about standard belly crunches, planking and everything that engages your abs
- Stomach vacuum is your best friend! Actually, this is the first and THE BEST exercise you have to do. It will help your diastasis recti to heal an close up
- Side plank and every type of exercise that engages and strengthens your core muscles.
Nowadays there are several specific programs available created by DRA experts that help you heal your diastasis fast.
Here’s what you might consider trying for HEALING DIASTASIS:
- A family-friendly workout membership that has specific videos for diastasis.
- A great resource for abdominal splints and programs designed to help even severe diastasis issues.
There are also plenty videos available on YouTube for dealing with diastasis recti.
The most important thing to remember…
…is that diastasis is NOT the verdict! It just means that you will have to make certain adjustments to your exercise routine and be patient. Healing diastasis takes time. Sometimes long time. But it WILL heal eventually! Believe in yourself and keep to the right exercise routine.
DO KEGEL EXERCISE
Not only is it necessary to take care of your body’s postpartum external look and recovery, it is highly important to think of your inner muscles down there, too.
According to Mayoclinic website:
“Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, just about anytime”.
Why should I do kegel exercise?
Because the pelvic floor muscles become extremely weak after delivery.
If you noticed the following signs:
- Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing
- Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate just right after you peed
- Leaky stool
You may want to start doing Kegel exercise as soon as possible!
How to do kegel exercise?
- Identify the right muscles. If you’re not sure where exactly your pelvic floor muscles are, you may identify them when urinating. Simply stop urination in the midstream. Now that you’ve got the right muscles, you can start doing the exercises. Kegel can be done in any position, although the lying down version seems to be easier for beginners.
- Use the right technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Stay focused. When you just start the exercise you sometimes tighten some extra muscles around your pelvic floor (like the lower abdomen, thighs or buttocks). You would want to focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Also, do not hold your breath while doing the exercise. Try breathing the exercise through instead.
- Repeat on a daily basis. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
DO STOMACH VACUUM
This is my absolute LOVE! My #1 and must-do exercise (not only during the recovery period, but anytime!) It works wonders with your inner abs muscles. It helps them regain strength, put your guts back to where they were pre-pregnancy much faster and rebuild the form of your belly. On top of that, stomach vaccum is THE ONLY exercise you’re allowed to do if you were diagnosed with diastasis (any kind) and you body just feels great after this exercise overall.
How to do stomach vacuum?
The most important thing to remember with stomach vacuum is this:
ALWAYS DO IT ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! The best time is in the morning after you woke up. I’m doing the standing up version when I go to the bathroom. It takes me less than 5 mins. Only after I’m done with this exercise, I would go to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. So you get the idea – completely empty stomach is best for stomach vacuum exercise.
Here are 3 stomach vacuum exercises
Stomach Vacuum Lying Down (great for beginners)
- Lye down on your back. Keep your arms parallel to your body.
- Bend your knees and relax your body.
- Slowly inhale and exhale until you feel you have no air left in your lungs. It should feel like your stomach is stuck to your back. Keep it contracted for 20-30 seconds.
- Inhale slowly and bring your belly back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times.
Stomach Vacuum From Your Knees
- Go down on your hands and knees
- Make a deep inhale and then exhale all the air from your lungs until you feel there’ nothing left there (your back should be slightly arched)
- Hold your breath for 15-30 seconds
- Inhale slowly and bring your belly back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times.
Stomach Vacuum Standing Up
- Stand up straight then bend your knees a little and put your hands on your hips
- Inhale deeply and then exhale all the air from your lungs bringing your belly in as much as possible
- Hold your breath for 15-30 seconds
- Inhale slowly and bring your belly back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times.
Here’s the more advanced version of stomach vacuum standing up:
CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
At about week 5-6 you’re going to meet with your doctor for a postpartum check-up where he diagnoses your uterus, vagina and how your stitches are healing (if any); runs the general tests and makes his statement to whether you are ready to start working out or not just yet.
Postpartum Weightloss: Week 6-12
If you’re already practicing stomach vacuum and kegel exercises, eating a healthy diet and engaging yourself with an everyday stroller walk, you might feel more energetic and already see some improvements in your body. It’s about time to introduce an easy workout schedule to your daily routine.
When I had my first work out I was shocked to realize how weak I was. I couldn’t do a single push up without modifying the exercise for a beginner’s level (do it from my knees) and even that seemed like A LOT! Just because your body needs time to adjust.
You get tired fast
You sweat like hell
Your heartbeat is pumping in your ears
You feel dizzy
You may even pee in your pants! (No kidding – another reason to do kegel exercises!)
But it will get better over time! Every other workout will help you regain your pre-pregnancy strength and train your body, your nervous & cardiovascular systems. You just have to be consistent at it.
SET YOUR GOALS
What is your goal? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to strengthen your body? Do you want to build up your muscles and burn some extra fat?
If you don’t set a specific goal with a certain date you want this goal to be achieved by, there’s a high chance for a failure.
My body looked okay after delivery. I didn’t gain much weight in pregnancy, so I left almost all extra pounds in the hospital. When I looked at myself in the mirror I saw two things:
- My belly was too big and out of shape (which is a normal thing after delivery)
- My body wasn’t toned up and I felt my muscles were weak
So, my first goal was to get my belly back to its normal form.
What did I do to get my flat belly back?
- I wore a postpartum girdle during the day for 6 weeks
- I did stomach vacuum every morning on an empty stomach
- I cleared my diet from dairy, pastry and SUGAR! (and all things that made me bloated)
By week 6 my belly looked pretty nice. I was satisfied. So I set another goal to regain my muscle strength.
What did I do to tone up my body?
- I started with having two-three short workouts a week (20 mins is just fine).
- I tried to stay active throughout the day
- When I felt like exercising but it wasn’t my workout day, I would do a short cardio program: 20 squads, 10 push-ups, 30 crunches, 1-minute plank (no rest in between). Repeat it two or three times.
- When I felt I could do more, I tried to implement short workouts in my daily schedule, combining cardio with weight lifting exercises
AIM TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
Our core muscles is what suffers the most during pregnancy. If you don’t do prenatal fitness (which I didn’t), the first thing to pay attention to postpartum is your core. Start slow. Modify the exercises for a beginner’s level. Don’t overindulge yourself. Give yourself grace. You’ve just pushed a watermelon-sized baby out of your body. You have every right to take it slow and be forgiving.
BETTER LITTLE THAN NOTHING
Don’t wait for instant results. Not gonna happen! And please don’t get discouraged if you don’t see some visible progress (especially, in the first few months postpartum). These last couple pounds of stubborn baby weight just don’t want to melt down sometimes. But trust me, they will eventually fade.
ALTER YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE
The truth is, our body is easily adjusted to exercise. When you start introducing new workout program your muscles feel a little sore almost after every training. As a result, your body is toned up. You see great result. But then, suddenly, the progress is stuck. Over a short period of time you body is getting used to your exercise routine. Preventing this from happening, you might want to consider altering your workouts every two weeks.
I can’t STRESS this enough! If you don’t set a well-established sleeping routine, your body won’t manage to restore its resources. Now don’t laugh at me right now. I know what you’re thinking. “Sleeping with a newborn? Whaaat??? She must be either lucky her baby sleeps through the night, or stupid (maybe both! Ha-ha)”. Because, obviously, sleep deprivation is too real for ALL the mamas out there. And I wasn’t an exception!
My advice here:
- sleep whenever you can (when the baby’s sleeping) during the day and night
- go to bed early in the evening. Our nervous system and brain are able to rest properly in the early hours, specifically, from 9 – 12 p.m.
- start to establish a “sleep through the night” routine for your baby as soon as possible to have a good night rest for yourself without constantly waking up.
EAT ENOUHG PROTEINS AND HEALTHY FATS
What does weight loss depend on? 80% of successful weight loss is… your DIET. It’s what you eat! Yes, as simple as that. 10% is exercise and the last 10% is genetics (but I wouldn’t even count it because I know people with terrible genetics but amazing weight loss results. And they are able to maintain it by evaluating what they are eating and choosing the right products every day!)
Just think of this number! Eighty-per-cent. It’s huge! It means that if you don’t exercise but still stick to a healthy diet, chances are, you will lose this stubborn baby weight anyway.
Working out helps to strengthen your muscles and tone up your body, but if you eat junk food, a lot of carbs and sugar, you don’t have to wait long until you see how negatively they affect your body and the overall feeling.
You ARE what you EAT. So make sure to include plenty of veggies, greens, healthy fats (like avocado, nuts and coconut oil), grass-fed antibiotic-free protein (poultry, turkey
And The Most Important Thing…
It’s never too late to start working on your body (and mind!) to get the form you’ve ever wanted to have. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this post 1 week or 1 year postpartum (or even 2!).
What you should know is losing weight is going to be WORK! Hard work. It takes time and commitment. But it’s 100% rewarding because you will achieve great results. Just don’t give up and you WILL get you body back.
I’m sure you CAN do this!
Thank you for your post
You’re welcome! 🙂
Wow I so needed this article! I did not work out during pregnancy and I too did not gain a ton of weight. But my body now, is not at all what I excepted it to be like. I don’t know what I was expecting. Thanks for the great advice and tips!
Thanks for shootin a comment! I’m glad you liked my article 🙂
As for me, I’ve started working on my body very seriously. I want it to be strong and better prepared for my second pregnancy. I’m sure that exercise really help you to recover faster postpartum and have less troubles with the belly.
Mummy magic weight loss tea is an excellent way for healthy weight loss. That is how I finally lost the weight after I had my daughter.
Eat fruits, veggies, fiber and so on. cut out all processed food, sugar, sweets, even butter, eat bran. Keep walking…… it will shed off.
Hey Angela, thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂
Thank you for this! May I ask, what did your workouts consist of – the twenty minute ones? Did you follow videos?
You are very welcome! 🙂
I used to alter my workouts every time, for example, on Monday I would do leg+bootey workout, on Wednesday I would work on my core and on Friday I’d do the upper body. I started slow and did the basic exercises first, like push-ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, burpees, etc.
Sometimes I used youtube videos for my workouts, other times I browsed Pinterest for inspiration. I didn’t have a special program, nor did I have a coach to lead my progress. I just did what I was comfortable with, without pushing my limits. And if I ever doubted the technique of the exercise, I would google it or ask my hubby for help and assistance.
Thank you for your interest in my article. I hope it was useful for you 🙂
Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. It is extremely helpful. Question, did you deliver vaginally or via C-section?
Thank you for your comment 🙂
I delivered vaginally.
Were these extra daily vitamins (B3 and omega) safe for breastfeeding ?
Hi, thanks for the article. I am a mother to three,my last born is 4 months. Am real eager to loose my postpartum weight. Currently i haven’t started any exercises.
Can i do rope skipping being a CS mom.?
Can I cure diastasis recti at the age of 46 n have 14 yrs kids (twins)
Yes! Never to late to fix it!
Have you tried the whole30 cookbook? Does it have healthy recipes with healthy fats? I would like to try the challenge since I know junk processed food makes me feel worse. Even a bowl of honey bunches of oats cereal makes me feel slugesh after eating it in the morning. I have to fight back by drinking 2 cups of water within the hour.