Caring for your postpartum belly

If you've recently welcomed your little one into the world, then a huge congrats from the mum. team!

Giving birth and meeting your baby for the first time is an incredible part of the postpartum journey, and you should be so proud of what you have accomplished so far!

Given the changes your body has undergone to get to this point, it's no surprise that most moms feel a difference in their shape compared to pre-pregnancy, and one of the most noticeable changes tends to be your postpartum belly.

Caring for this area is essential as your body begins to recover and adjust after childbirth. In this guide, we'll explore the different aspects of postpartum belly care, offering helpful tips to support your mental and physical well-being during this period:

Pregnancy and postpartum journey in polaroid photos

Understanding your postpartum belly

After childbirth, your abdomen undergoes significant changes that mark the beginning of the postpartum phase. While the uterus contracts to return to its pre-pregnancy size, the process is gradual and takes some time.

As well as this, you'll begin to experience hormonal shifts and fluid retention, both of which can contribute to temporary abdominal swelling.

The swelling, or 'bloating' that many moms feel during this phase, is entirely normal and typically resolves as the body adjusts and recovers. Staying hydrated, engaging in light physical activity (as advised by your healthcare professional) and incorporating a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help.

In addition, it's important to acknowledge the emotions tied to your postpartum body during this time.

You may be experiencing a range of contrasting feelings - from pride to what your body has accomplished alongside concerns about any changes.

Again, this is all very normal, and the best advice we can give is to prioritise self-compassion and self-care while remembering that each mom's body heals at its own pace.

How long does postpartum belly last?

This question has no straightforward answer, as every mom's body is unique. Generally speaking, it takes six to eight weeks for the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy form.

As hormonal changes initiate the shrinking of the uterus, your abdominal muscles will continually contract, and the skin surrounding your postpartum belly will slowly tighten. The expulsion of any remaining fluids that contribute to postpartum swelling will eventually occur through vaginal discharge and sweat.

Nevertheless, remember that your postpartum belly may not have completely healed within two months.

Even after your uterus has returned to its pre-pregnancy size, you may still notice the presence of lingering factors - such as surplus fat, the presence or loose skin and stretch marks.

How can I reduce my postpartum belly?

It only takes a quick Google search to find the internet filled with questions like 'Why is it so hard to lose postpartum fat?' and 'Does the postpartum pooch ever go away?' and given the body-image pressures moms face, it's no surprise.

At mum., we want to encourage our motherhood community to move away from weight-loss thinking to a holistic approach to postpartum belly and general well-being care. 

While the journey to reducing postpartum belly varies for each individual, the collective focus on health and self-care can lead to far more positive outcomes, such as: 

  • Strengthened abdomen
  • Improved mood
  • Better hormonal balance
  • Increased energy levels
  • Regulated digestive system 
  • Foundation for long-term health

Five practical tips for postpartum belly care:

1. Make time for gentle exercise

Incorporating gentle exercises into your daily routine can be a great way to aid abdominal recovery and release healthy endorphins into the body.

Pelvic tilts, kegel exercises and postpartum yoga or pilates are just some of the ways you can strengthen your core muscles without overly straining your body.

mum. tip: Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine after giving birth.

2. Invest in supportive garments

Many moms find they experience abdominal discomfort during postpartum, and supportive garments such as belly wraps or compression bands can help to alleviate pain while supporting healing as your abdomen attempts to close your separated muscles.

3. Focus on hydration + nutrition

Drinking lots of water and eating a balanced diet are two factors that are vital for postpartum belly recovery.

Staying hydrated is essential to reducing water retention while eating foods rich in healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals all support healing from the inside out.

4. Prioritise daily skincare

We highly recommend nourishing your skin with a gentle moisturizer throughout the postpartum period. Regardless of whether you did so during pregnancy, doing so after childbirth remains a vital aspect of postpartum self-care.

During this time, your skin can feel dry and in need of intensive hydration - incorporating a belly oil into your daily routine can be a real game-changer.

As well as providing deep moisture, postpartum belly oils are developed to improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and leave skin feeling smooth and supple.

mum. tip: If you underwent a cesarean section, then caring for your scar is crucial. Be sure to keep the incision clean and dry, and follow the specific care instructions provided by your doctor to ensure a healthy recovery.

5. Engage in positive self-talk

As we mentioned earlier, acknowledging emotions relating to your postpartum journey is essential, and engaging in positive self-talk can help to remind yourself of everything you and your body have achieved up til now.

Our best advice is to celebrate your body's strength and resilience with daily affirmations rather than conforming to societal pressures; remember, you aren't alone in how you feel!

Don't hesitate to seek emotional or practical support, and reach out to loved ones when needed. Connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences (such as our wonderful motherhood community) can provide comfort during this often overwhelming time.

Motherhood is unique for every mom, and by embracing self-care, you can empower yourself to navigate it with grace and resilience. To all new moms out there - you've got this!

xo mum

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