4 Causes of Post Pregnancy Hanging Belly & How To Get Rid Of It
11 mins read
Health & Fitness for New Born, Baby
On one hand pregnancy brings the joy and anticipation of a wonderful new life ahead. But on the other it also carries the apprehension of drastic body changes. Morning sickness, weight gain, stretch marks and the most dreaded – post pregnancy loose belly – are only some of the changes we need to face to bring our little ones into the world.
Why does no one ever talk about the not so joyous part of pregnancy – the one that consists of erratic mood swings, unusual cravings, post-delivery loose skin and a hanging belly? Yes, a woman's stretch marks may be her tiger stripes, and that hanging belly is proof of the journey she has undergone for her baby. However, it is important for us to acknowledge these changes, understand why they happen and do what we must to remain confident and body-positive.
A woman's body undergoes several changes from the time she conceives till the time her baby is in her arms. However, certain changes are very difficult to get rid of (or reverse), to say the least. One such is the concern of a post-pregnancy hanging belly that women find very hard to eliminate. While most of us struggle with this problem, rarely do we know the real reason that's causing it! And when we are unsure of why something has happened, how can we fix it?
Causes of Hanging Belly After Pregnancy
Simply put, your stomach muscles and skin stretch during pregnancy, and remain so even weeks after childbirth. This is what leads to the belly skin losing some of its elasticity and you end up with sagging. Let’s understand this in detail.
1. The Expansion of the Uterus
During the course of pregnancy, the little one in your womb grows in size and to accommodate him/her your tummy expands. This eventually leads to your uterus expanding too. The enlargement of the uterus causes the abdominal muscles to expand resulting in loosening of the belly skin – a major cause of a hanging belly post pregnancy.
2. Excessive Abdominal Skin Stretching
Another common reason for having a loose tummy after delivery is the excessive stretching of the abdominal skin. A substance called ‘elastin’ gives and maintains elasticity of the skin, however, during pregnancy, these fibres get damaged because of continuous stretching. This constant damage results in the dreaded post-pregnancy tummy.
3. Hormones Take Time to Normalise
Your pregnancy body and post-pregnancy body see a varied level of hormonal changes, and these can cause various effects in your body. The cells in the body swell up too. Although the effect of these starts to go with time, they too can contribute to your bloated appearance in the postpartum phase.
4. The Double (Layered Fat) Trouble
The belly fat is largely constituted of two kinds of fats and that is precisely the reason why losing the fat around your belly usually tougher than that from your legs or arms. We are usually aware of that soft, cushiony layer of fat that we can touch, feel and see. That's called the 'subcutaneous' fat. It deposits the unused calories around your waistline (in an anticipation of a situation where your body may suffer acute starvation and will require extra calories for survival)
The second layer that lies deep below is the 'visceral' fat which surrounds all the vital organs and also has direct implications on health conditions like blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. This fat form is much more active and can create a havoc with your insulin resistance levels.
These two combined together are quite difficult to tackle and that's where most people struggle, especially after pregnancy.
How to Get Rid of Loose Skin After Pregnancy
Now that you know what causes it, you must also be aware of what can help get rid of it. Post-childbirth a woman experiences several hormonal changes as the body adapts to the role of being a mother. Evident signs of these changes are the uterus size shrinking, subsequently leading to the reduction of the belly size. This may keep happening for the initial few months. It is undoubtedly difficult to lose weight and tummy fat post-delivery. However, these solutions will help speed up the process:
It has been observed that breastfeeding moms lose weight quicker. As your body starts releasing the hormone called ‘oxytocin’, your uterus will contract and shrink faster to return to its original size. Not just that, breastfeeding mothers are known to be more active and emotionally calmer – essential to losing weight.
PS: You also get to eat 500 calories more when you breastfeed!
2. Watch What You Put in That Belly
If you want to shrink that belly, you need to also take care of what you put in there. It’s no secret that a healthy and well-balanced diet is extremely beneficial in aiding healthy weight loss. This becomes even more important post-pregnancy as your body is somewhere still recovering and providing nutrition to your little one.
You must obtain your daily dose of nutrition from vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Maintain sufficient water intake and use healthy fat oil like olive oil for cooking your meals.
3. A Little Movement Always Helps
Exercise is always beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. Post pregnancy, take it slow. It isn’t advisable to dive into a rigorous exercise regime immediately post-delivery. However, a slow 20-minute walk is a good start for postpartum skin tightening. You can also use a postpartum belt during the day to aid in skin tightening The idea is to inculcate movement and keep the momentum building.
4. Try New Forms of Exercise
Yoga and Pilates are known to be extremely beneficial for the core muscles and help tighten them. Apart from these, Kegel exercises are also known to be really good for the pelvic muscles post-pregnancy. These exercises can be helpful in toning tummy after baby. However, before taking on these exercise forms, make sure you consult your doctor first.
5. Involve Your Baby in the Process
If you thought that all your little one can do is keep you awake at night, you are absolutely wrong! Your baby can actually be a great exercise buddy. Involve your little one in your aerobic exercise. You could begin with a walk when you take your baby out in the stroller. It can actually burn up to 100 calories!
6. Involve Your Husband Too!
There is a reason your partner is called your ‘better half’ - it is because partners always motivate each other to strive and pursue the best version of themselves. You and your husband can hence enrol in sports or other physical activity classes together or just hit the gym together. If that’s too much work, you can even look at videos online and just workout at home.
7. Hydrate Yourself Enough
One of the reasons for a hanging belly post-pregnancy that often gets neglected is lack of hydration. The human body tends to hold onto whatever it get’s less of – which is why drinking less water will make you bloat. Bloating can, in turn, cause your belly to hang and bulge. So it is important to drink plenty of water to get rid of the paunch!
8. Tighten the Loose Belly Skin
Sometimes the belly hangs not because you have put on weight, but because your expanded pregnancy skin is having a hard time going back to its normal size and shape! Loose belly skin can give you an ugly hanging belly, but like other causes of hanging belly, this one too has a remedy – skin firming lotions and gels. Formulations meant for tightening loose belly skin contain collagen – a protein that helps your skin tone up. Daily massage – once after your morning bath, and once before going to bed – is recommended for best results.
9. Post-natal Vitamins
Most women are very particular about their prenatal vitamins, but they somehow tend to forget about them once they deliver their baby! Taking care of your own post-pregnancy body is about as important as taking care of your baby, so do not ignore those post-natal vitamins and minerals. Not only do they help you in gaining back your strength, they also help get rid of the sagging post-pregnancy belly.
How Harmful is Liposuction and Why You Should Go for Natural Ways
A lot of women who have been struggling with the post-pregnancy weight - especially their hanging belly - for a long time may be tempted to consider liposuction. Liposuction is a surgery in which fat is selectively removed from the body. However, health experts advise against doing so.
WATCH: Dr. Ashish Davalbhakta Gives an Overview of Liposuction
Key Takeaway: According to Dr. Ashish Davalbhakta -
Liposuction can be done for obese and/or overweight people too, however, there is a considerable possibility of the results not being long-lasting.
The best results of liposuction are seen in people suffering from lipodystrophy - a condition in which the body has more fat cells in certain parts as compared to the overall distribution.
Liposuction used to correct lipodystrophy shows best results, but needs to be maintained with diet and exercise.
Liposuction costs start at approximately INR15,000 per zone (abdomen, thighs, buttocks, etc. are counted as one zone each).
As you must have realised after watching that video - liposuction is not recommended for a simple 'weight loss', unless there is a solid reason to go in for the procedure. Also, the procedure is expensive. So why not go the natural way? it is hard work, but that is what makes the results that much more meaningful and cherished!
Real Life Stories of Moms Whose Post Pregnancy Transformation is MAJOR GOALS!
It is true that losing weight is an uphill task. It can be especially difficult if you are a foodie! Also, if you are living alone (and hence in-charge of all the household chores too). But impossible is nothing!
Here we have curated 4 success stories of moms who lost all their pregnancy weight! Let these women's stories inspire you to give it your all!
Real Mom Sameeta Deepak Lost 15kgs
Her Secret - learning from her past attempts at weight loss and not repeating the mistakes she had made Speaking of her journey, Sameeta said: "In the past, I had deep dived into exercise and healthy eating and followed all kinds of diet plans but I was not able to understand what is right and what is wrong. Nothing seemed to work. But this time I didn't feel like I was on a diet. Now it has become my lifestyle."
Her Secret - 1 cheat meal in 10 days (instead of 1 cheat meal per week) Sanya's story is the perfect example of how partners can help you stay motivated and focused on the journey. Speaking of her husband, Sanya said: "My inspiration was my husband, he was always there around me and lend his support all the time. He never lowered my morale by commenting on my weight. I can happily say his efforts inspired me."
Her Secret - monitoring her sugar-intake rather than fats Along with making a lot of healthy and wise modifications to her diet (like giving up sugar, consuming a good amount of proteins), Swati also worked out regularly. Swati's workout was: "30 minutes of weight lifting and 20 minutes of Cross Fit. For a few days, I also practised power yoga for stretching and flexibility." Swati also talked about how much determination matters: "It is not rocket science. You just need to be headstrong."
Her Secret - she did not bother about being judged while working out but instead focussed on only herself Kiran's story is really inspiring because she was 120kgs when she started her weight loss journey is now down to 67kg! While talking about her journey, Kiran dropped some difficult truth bombs: "Stop eating the leftover food from kids’ plates and whining ‘Or else food will be wasted’. (Take) absolutely no shortcuts. Stop feeling insecure and thinking ‘People will ridicule me if I start running or working out in the gym looking at my tyres juggling faster than my feet.’ "
Weight loss in any form is never really an easy task, especially after childbirth. It is imperative to maintain a healthy and an active lifestyle along with a well-balanced diet. Apart from this, to work especially on the target areas, it is essential to focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles to help lose that hanging belly.