Despite what television and movies show us, a woman's stomach does not magically melt back to slimness immediately following the birth of her child. A pregnancy belly may attract compliments during a pregnancy, but many women want to get back to their original shape and weight as fast as possible after childbirth. Losing a pregnancy belly may take time, dedication, and a return to pre-pregnancy diet and exercise.
During pregnancy, the belly stretches out to make room for the baby. Hormonal shifts, increased nutrition needs, and a decreased ability to exercise can all help create a post-birth belly that looks inflated and flabby. It is important to remember that as hormones return to normal and the uterus returns to its original shape, some of the pregnancy belly will disappear on its own. This process may take up to a month, but will likely remove some of the puffiness and still-pregnant look.
One of the keys to losing a pregnancy belly is proper nutrition and exercise during the pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who continue to eat healthily and maintain a light exercise regime during pregnancy will gain less weight, therefore giving them less to lose. Although weight will inevitably go up during pregnancy, the less additional fat that is put on through poor eating habits, the less there will be to take off.
Another major factor in losing a pregnancy belly may be breastfeeding. According to some health experts, breastfeeding will help burn additional calories in the process of milk production, leading to faster weight loss. This theory is not completely foolproof, however; some experts also say that the body may hold onto fat stores to help it produce healthy milk.
Since pregnancy essentially means a mother is eating for two, it is important to pay attention to how eating habits have changed since before pregnancy began. It may be difficult to reduce calorie intake to non-pregnancy level, but this will doubtless help reduce a pregnancy belly. Start diet alteration by replacing unhealthy foods with healthy ones, then begin to work on calorie reduction. Consult a doctor about maintaining proper nutrition after pregnancy, especially if breastfeeding.
The final major factor to losing a pregnancy belly is exercise. Due to the expansion in the midsection, abdominal muscles will have loosened and stretched, giving the belly a flabby look. Although it may seem like a thousand ab crunches a day is the only answer, don't panic. Consider adding a Pilates or yoga routine to exercise regime. These low impact styles typically involve extensive ab work without the tedium of performing endless sit-ups. Combined with some cardio to help burn off excess fat, a pregnancy belly may soon be a distant memory.