Are you looking for ways to tighten your postpartum belly? Whether you are recently postpartum or getting ready to be, here are effective ways to help your belly return to “normal.” (This post contains affiliate links.)
Postpartum weight loss and wellness are two things that are on the minds of most new moms. Most of us are eager to feel normal again after having a baby, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Your postpartum belly will shrink some immediately after birth, but there are several contributing factors here.
Not only have your skin and core muscles been stretched to new lengths (literally), your uterus has, too.
So when we’re talking about ways to tighten your postpartum belly, we are actually talking about a few different things. They are:
- Stretched belly skin.
- Your expanded uterus.
- Increased body fat.
- Your increased fluid (water, blood, etc.).
- Weakened core muscles.
Because there are so many changes that happen during pregnancy and the postpartum period, this post will cover many ways to tighten your postpartum belly. (Click to read about the unexpected things that happen when you have a c-section.)
Natural Ways Your Tummy Will Shrink
A growing belly is necessary for a healthy baby, but luckily your body will help your belly shrink beginning immediately after giving birth.
To begin, with the birth of both a full-term baby and the placenta, you can expect to lose approximately 6-10 pounds immediately.
You can also expect to lose several pounds worth of fluids in the first several hours postpartum.
What’s more, this number can continue to climb for several weeks postpartum, since you are likely to lose blood and other fluids for up to about four weeks postpartum.
All the while, your uterus will slowly retract to its usual size, which is normally just about 6 ounces or less in weight. This process can take up to four weeks for most women.
After birth, simply walking around without a front-heavy belly will help to begin strengthening the core. Without doing anything special at all, your body has a lot of natural ways to tighten your postpartum belly.
Most moms, however, need a little help to speed up the process of tightening up their postpartum belly.
And really, in order to get the postpartum belly most moms have in mind, it’s realistic to expect a little work to be involved. (Click to read about how to set realistic fitness goals after having a baby.)
Luckily since there are a lot of factors involved as far as the things that changed your belly, there are a lot of ways to tighten your postpartum belly, too.
A Word About C-Sections
If you have a c-section, postpartum recovery is quite different from that of a vaginal birth. (Read my post detailing things no one tells you about having a c-section.) You can expect your belly to look and feel different. You can also expect your recovery to take a little bit longer and expect to do some things a little differently when it comes to ways to tighten your postpartum belly.
During a c-section, your skin, abdominal wall, and the surrounding muscles are affected by your incision. Because of this, I will address a few additional ways to tighten your postpartum belly after a c-section towards the end of this post. (I have had two c-sections for those who were wondering.)
Otherwise, the following ways to tighten your postpartum belly apply to all new moms, regardless of how the birth went down.
11 Ways To Tighten Your Postpartum Belly
1. Drink Up
The body is greatly affected by how much water you are drinking. In order to effectively flush out unwanted fluids, it needs fresh fluids. It sounds contradictory, but without water, your body holds onto more bloat. Start hydrating by drinking half as much water in ounces as your normal pre-pregnancy weight. (If you weigh 160 pounds typically, try to drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.) If you are breastfeeding, this will be especially important if you want to maintain your supply. Click to read my breastfeeding tips.
2. Apply Lotion Daily
This will help soften the skin, improve it’s elasticity and help you avoid more stretch marks as your skin recedes. It will also help with circulation.
Do this once you are comfortable touching your belly. You should wait until your bandages and stitches have been removed by your doctor. After this, you may begin lightly massaging your loose skin with lotion daily. You will need to take special care around your incision, making sure not to tug on it. I suggest using a light lotion or stretch mark oil like the one’s from Palmer’s. This is the stuff I use and it goes on nicely and smells good, too.
3. Wear A Postpartum Girdle
After my c-section, a high-quality postpartum girdle was so important. It saved me from so much back pain and from feeling like my gut was going to fall out. This is the one I purchased for my first baby, then saved for my second planned c-section. They will help to compress your uterus and push extra fluids out, as well as make you feel supported. I can’t tell you enough how important this was for me, as I had super weak back and core muscles after both pregnancies.
4. Massage Your Belly
Once you are further along in the recovery process, you can start massage. This is different than just putting lotion on your skin. This is done with more strategy and more pressure.
You probably remember the nurses pushing on your belly to get the placenta to come out or to help your uterus retract. You don’t have to be that intense!
If you feel any pain, you may not be ready. If you are a c-section mama and your scar still bothers you, you might consider waiting, too. However, if you feel ready, you can massage your belly in a circular motion with your thumbs. Since your belly skin probably stretched ever-which-way, you should also massage down (from about your belly button, down to your underwear line). Don’t forget to massage your sides, taking care not to pull on the skin more.
5. Begin Walking As Soon As Possible
Walking uses muscles! We typically take for granted all of the strength that is required to walk. However, many moms are unable to do much in the last few weeks of pregnancy. This leads to muscular degeneration. Start walking – even if it’s just for five minutes at a time – while focusing on engaging your core. This will help you later when you are ready to start exercising again. When you’re ready, start my core strengthening workout program!
6. Do Your Kegels
There are many layers of muscles we often neglect. Kegels are often at the top of the list – pregnancy or not. These muscles are deep in your pelvic floor. They are often described as the muscles that can stop your urine mid-stream. If you strengthen these muscles, your are aiding other core muscles. The nice thing about doing kegel exercises is that you can do them pretty much anywhere. Follow this how-to guide to get started strengthening these important muscles today.
7. Check For Diastasis
Diastasis recti is commonly known as abdominal muscle separation. This common condition can cause your belly to look saggy and frumpy. No amount of crunches and planks can fix diastasis. (In fact, they are known to make things worse!) However, fixing this abdominal separation is key if you want to get a flat or normal-looking belly. Check out this guide to see if you have diastasis recti and find out how to fix it with targeted exercises.
8. Perform Postpartum Core Rehab Exercises
There are many gentle core exercises you can do to strengthen and tone. However, many of them make abdominal separation worse, so be sure to find out if you have diastasis first. I highly recommend the “cat cow” exercise as a great place to start.
Here’s how to do it:
Begin on your hands and knees. Slowly arch your back, holding for 2-5 seconds at the top. Slowly release, dropping your belly button to the floor while looking up to the ceiling. Hold 2-5 seconds for a good core stretch. Repeat 3-5 times daily.
If you are looking for more core exercises, be sure to check out my post regarding core exercises for beginners. You can also check out my core workout program if you’re ready to go all in with postpartum exercise.
Now I know that not everyone will be super successful breastfeeding. (See why I pumped, breastfed, and supplemented.) But if you can breastfeed, do it! It will help you burn calories, which will help you shed fat. Breastfeeding also supposedly helps your uterus retract, which is important when you want your belly to shrink.
10. Dry Brush
Dry brushing is going to help with circulation. And better circulation means better elasticity and smoother skin. Find out how to dry brush and why it can be beneficial here. Then pick up a nice dry brush for yourself and get started! The nice thing is that it works on other problem areas, like thighs!
11. Take It Easy to Avoid Setbacks
Nothing is worse than being bedridden for a few weeks when you’re eager to get moving! I found this out twice after my back “went out.” After both kids, I didn’t get enough rest and had back spasms that resulted in muscles so tight I couldn’t walk. For several weeks, I couldn’t pick up my baby and needed a LOT of help! If you feel that your back muscles are too tight, it’s a sign to slow down! Your body has been through a lot and you don’t want to lose any progress. Start some healthy self-care habits now!
Shrinking Your Postpartum Belly After A C-Section
After having a c-section, it may take you more time to feel comfortable and strong. However, the layers of scar tissue that you have from your incision may take many months (even years) to heal.
Rest assured, there are many ways to help your scar tissue soften. Firstly, I recommend taking a look at my c-section recovery post as a starting point. Then, I recommend starting c-section shelf massage. I find that this is the most critical thing I have done to see results on my own c-section shelf. Here are a few resources to get you started:
That’s it! I hope that this post helps you on your postpartum journey! Do you have any other ways to shrink your postpartum belly? Share them by leaving a comment below!