Belly weight may seem particularly hard to lose after a pregnancy. Over the course of the previous nine months, your body prepared for the baby by stretching out the muscles of your abdomen, changing the shape of your hips and expanding your pelvic floor. While you likely aren’t happy with the appearance and strength of your stomach post-delivery, you can lose belly weight after a pregnancy with a bit of diligence.
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Consider your diet. If you’re breastfeeding, you already burn extra calories through nursing; consult your doctor before cutting calories so you don't compromise your milk supply. If you aren’t breastfeeding, reduce your daily calories by 500 to lose about a pound a week, says MedlinePlus. Though spot-reduction is impossible through caloric deficit, your body will usually target first the areas of your body with the most energy storage. If you carry more weight in your belly, you’ll likely begin to see a change within a few weeks.
Talk to your doctor about whether you’re ready to begin exercising again. Most women in good shape, who exercised regularly throughout their pregnancy or who had uncomplicated vaginal births are able to begin light exercises within days of delivery. Women who are not regular exercisers, who have had complications or undergone C-section, may need to wait a while longer before it’s safe to hit the gym.
Get back to the trail, road or treadmill. If your doctor gives you the go ahead, light cardio is recommended for many new mothers as a way of returning to a healthy and active lifestyle without causing undue stress on the body. Cardiovascular exercise will help you to burn calories, increasing your caloric deficit for maximum belly weight burn. Report to your doctor any bleeding caused by exercise and allow yourself time to return to the intensity of your workouts before you were pregnant.
Hit the weights, with your doctor’s permission. If you’ve been given the OK, improve the appearance of your belly by focusing on lower core workouts such as hanging leg raises, bent knee hip raises, and flat bench lying leg raises. As an added bonus, strength training can not only help you improve the strength and reduce the size of your stomach, but will also help to improve the appearance of your stomach by helping to tighten the skin.
Include your baby in your workouts. If you’ve returned to regular cardio workouts, using a baby jogger will force you to better engage the muscles of your core in order to push the jogger ahead of your body. Many health clubs also offer mom and baby fitness classes that allow you to burn calories while you show your child the importance of physical fitness.
- American Council on Exercise: Mama Wants Her Abs Back
- MedlinePlus: Losing Weight After Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Cesarean Birth After Care
- Body Results: Considerations for Safe Return to Exercise Post Pregnancy By Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS
- ShapeFit.com: Lose Belly Fat After Pregnancy
- American Council on Exercise: Get Fit With Your Stroller