Pregnancy is a beautiful as well as life-changing experience for many. One of the common problems women face after their delivery is belly fat that sometimes refuses to go away even after months. New mothers apart from all the challenges of this new phase also struggle with this uncomfortable bulge around their abdomen and wonder why their belly continues to look bigger even after child birth. Belly fat post pregnancy can be reduced by breastfeeding and exercises that will not only help you lose weight around abdominal area but also strengthen your pelvic floor, abdomen and lower back muscles. (Also read: Postpartum women’s health and fitness issues and tips to work on them)
CAUSES OF POSTPARTUM BABY BULGE
Dr. Priya Singh (PT), Women’s Health Physiotherapist & Lactation Consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, Vashi explains why your belly remains bigger post pregnancy and what can be done about it.
“The uterus is made up of smooth muscles and it grows in size with progressing weeks of pregnancy. So the abdominal muscles also stretch to accommodate the growing fetus. After the baby is born the uterus is still big in size. That is the reason even after childbirth the belly feels the same. The size of the uterus shrinks and reduces naturally on its own with time. This process is referred as involution,” says Dr Singh.
The physiotherapist says there are many ways that can help you lose this postpartum belly fat faster.
WAYS TO LOSE POSTPARTUM BELLY
Dr Singh says to speed up the process of losing weight around belly, breastfeeding can help, as it aids in shrinking of uterus. This is because breastfeeding helps in releasing a hormone called oxytocin which causes in contraction of the muscles.
Another reason for the abdominal muscles to bulge postpartum is diastasis recti – the separation of the rectus abdominal muscle that is more than more than 2 cm. Few weeks after childbirth if you feel the bulge it is recommended to get checked from a physiotherapist so that they can prescribe exercises as per the assessment and type of diastasis recti present. They may recommend an abdominal belt to support saggy muscles and help in carrying out daily activities.
“However, to build a good core strength, one must work on the muscle consistently with suitable exercises. In the long run performing exercise will not only help you to get rid of the abdominal bulge but also will build enough strength in muscles. But to get results it is highly important to do the right exercises at the right time,” says Dr Singh.
TIPS TO EXERCISE RIGHT POST PREGNANCY
1. You can start slow and steady exercises as early as two days post child birth. The exercise that is helpful at this time are called ‘isometric contractions’. This type of exercise focuses on activating a specific group of muscles which helps you build strength in the areas that need it the most during the early days of postpartum like pelvic floor, abdomen and lower back.
2. You can start mild to moderate intensity workout after 4-6 weeks. Before this time frame stick to very basic exercises as explained above for back, pelvic and abdomen. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to include upper body, neck stretching exercises in your routine.
3. Confirm once before starting to begin with exercise routine with your healthcare provider.
4. Focus on stretching and strengthening with cardiovascular form of exercises 2-3 times a week. A simple walk is also a good way to start.
5. Avoid exhaustion, stay hydrated throughout the day and eat well.