“Why Do I Still Look Pregnant?!!!!” –Dealing with the post-natal belly.

Barbie’s belly will always be flat. Lucky Barbie!

After nine months of carrying a baby and stretching your belly to it’s limits–many women believe, or want to believe– that they will snap right back into their pre-baby bodies.  I know I was one of those women and I was sorely disappointed when, after my first baby was born, via C-section, that I still looked pregnant several months after I delivered.  I was sadly surprised when I couldn’t just slip on my old pair of jeans.  It probably did not help that I had gained more then I should have during my first pregnancy…but those chocolate milkshakes were worth it, or so I thought!  If I only knew then what I know now!  Some women do bounce back quickly.  They are the naturally thin women, women who have kept in excellent physical condition and/or the ones who have elastic skin that was able to withstand the burgeoning growth of their little one stretching the boundaries of mom’s body.  For many of  us, we are left with that extra fold of skin and fat, which takes awhile to flatten out.

Get Moving!

     Yoga serves the post-natal body as well as it does the pregnant body.  When we practice yoga, we engage the lowest pieces of our body–the perineum space.  Throughout prenatal yoga, we use this technique when we stand, squat, or mindfully practice our Kegels.  After the baby is born, it is crucial to bring strength and energy back to this space.  12 hours after you give birth, barring any complications that would prevent it, you should do your kegels.  Soon after that, you can begin soft, gentle abdominal exercises that coordinate breath with movement.   

     The Sarhmann Exercises, developed by Shirley Sarhmann, a physical therapist, are a  highly recommended and effective way of rebuilding strength in the lower abdominal muscles.  Catherine Cram, MS, the leading expert in prenatal and post-natal fitness writes about rebuilding the core in this instructional and informative article (←Sarhmann Exercises!!) Remember to listen to your body!  If you had a C-Section, follow the guidelines for exercise post C-section. 

 Forget about the skinny jeans for awhile.

     While it may be tempting to charge headlong into an intense exercise routine post-pregnancy, chances are, your body won’t let you.  This is the time to cultivate patience with yourself and your body.  Life with a newborn is exhausting on so many fronts.  This doesn’t mean that you should raise the white diaper flag and surrender and become a blob.  It just means that it is important to take it slow and listen to your body;  It has just gone through some dramatic changes.  Build up your abdominals, do your kegels and get walking.  As you begin to adjust to life with baby and you feel well enough, try and get out to a mommy and baby exercise class( such as my mommy and baby yoga class!) or maybe leave baby with someone for a short while so that you can get to a class or work-out.  If none of that works, simply pop baby into a carriage or baby carrier and go for a walk.  Baby can sleep and you can get some fresh air and exercise, which does wonders for one’s mood.  Incorporating an exercise routine into your life with a baby is important!  When you nuture yourself, you can better nuture those who need you the most!   


© mahamamas.com and Janet MacFarlane, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet MacFarlane and Mahamamas.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Janet MacFarlane is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher at 500 hours, with a specialty in  prenatal yoga.