After you have welcomed your baby into the world, you may be curious as to how long it will take you to lose the weight you gained -- particularly in your stomach. Because it took nine months for you to gain weight with your baby, it is important to begin with realistic expectations as to how long it will take to lose your stomach. However, with a healthy diet and exercise routine, you can get back your pre-baby body.
Losing your stomach depends upon a number of factors, including how much your baby weighs, how much weight you gained during pregnancy, how you delivered, if you are breastfeeding and your diet and exercise routine following delivery. You will lose weight immediately after delivery -- subtract weight for your baby, placenta and amniotic fluid. This translates into about 12 lb. and you will likely lose four additional pounds of water weight. Because your uterus has grown during pregnancy, this can leave your stomach still looking like you are somewhat pregnant after delivery. It takes about four to six weeks for your uterus to shrink back to its normal size, helping your stomach look smaller.
A healthy weight loss is considered losing about 1 lb. per week following pregnancy. You can use this as a guideline to consider how long it may take you to lose weight in a healthy manner. For example, if you gained 40 lb. during pregnancy, subtract about 16 lb. from delivery. This leaves 24 lb. With careful diet and exercise, you can expect to lose this weight around the six-month mark after delivery. However, this can take longer depending on your individual health. Breastfeeding can accelerate weight and stomach loss because it burns more calories and also releases hormones that signal your uterus to shrink at a faster rate, helping you get your stomach back.
If You Delivered Via C-Section
Delivery via C-section is considered major abdominal surgery and may therefore extend your recovery and weight-loss time. This is because it typically takes six to eight weeks for your surgical scar and internal organs to properly heal. You should wait until your physician clears you -- typically at your six to eight-week postpartum checkup -- before beginning exercise to speed weight loss. Because some stomach muscles and nerves may have been affected with C-section delivery, you may find your stomach takes longer to appear flat.
When it comes to getting your body back after pregnancy, keep in mind that it takes time. "Don't expect any miracle cures," said Susan Condon, a lactation consultant writing on Baby Center. "Plan on it taking at least 10 months to a year to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight." Condon also warns against the negative effects of trying to lose weight too quickly -- doing so releases toxins into your bloodstream, which can affect your milk supply if you are breastfeeding.
Safe Exercise Examples
Exercise is a stress-relieving way to lose your post-pregnancy belly. After receiving your physician's approval to exercise, try low-impact exercises like walking, riding a stationary bicycle or swimming. You can incorporate your baby into these workouts by taking her along in a baby stroller. Abdominal exercise can help tone the muscles of the abdomen, but should be performed with caution the first few months following pregnancy. For example, you can wrap a towel or sheet around your stomach before performing abdominal crunches to better support your stomach muscles. When you initially begin exercising, you may find you can only do so in small increments. Start with 10 to 15 minute workouts -- as your abilities improve and body heals, add more time or increase your intensity.