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Belly fat is a common concern for new mothers, who wish to quickly get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies.

Pregnancy is marked by a number of physical and hormonal changes leading to weight gain. The growing uterus is another cause of weight gain. This is essential to support the growing foetus during pregnancy. But, after childbirth, this gain is highly undesirable.

What can be done to shed off the excess pounds and reduce belly fat after pregnancy?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce belly fat; diet playing a pivotal role. Targeted exercises, stress reduction and home remedies are other ways.

So, read this article to find the best answer to this query.

  1. Home remedies to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  2. Belly fat after pregnancy
  3. Why does the belly stay big after pregnancy
  4. How long does it take for your belly to shrink to its original size
  5. How to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  6. Exercises to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

Other than diet and exercise, there are certain remedies, which will help you in losing belly fat. But, it is not recommended to begin with these while breastfeeding, since it may affect the quality of breastmilk and the health of the infant. Some of the most effective home remedies are:

Fenugreek water

This can be made by soaking a spoonful of methi dana seeds or fenugreek seeds in 8-10 glasses of water overnight. Boil this mixture in the morning. Then, strain and enjoy.

This will help in reducing fat by flushing out excess toxins from your body acquired due to swelling of body tissues during pregnancy.

Turmeric milk

Turmeric milk is a common home remedy employed after pregnancy. Being a powerful antioxidant, turmeric promotes better healing of the tissues. This will help in improving the appearance of your abdominal muscles.

Almonds

Almonds are a rich source of fibres. So, they will help you in keeping full for long. You can have them raw, soaked or with milk.

Warm water

While the benefits of having water have already been mentioned, it must be added that having warm water will promote belly fat reduction.

Massage

A gentle belly massage will help in reducing belly fat by facilitating the removal of toxins and by speeding up the process of tissue recovery. This will also help in toning your abdominal muscles.

A round belly is quite common after pregnancy. A few women immediately lose all the fat and go back to their pre-pregnancy bodies, but this is not the case for most women. Why some women experience an immediate fat reduction is, however, due to a regular exercise and diet regimen being followed during pregnancy. This leads to lesser weight gain, just sufficient enough for the developing foetus.

Different women experience a different amount of weight gain during pregnancy, which depends on their status of nourishment, pre-pregnancy body weights, levels of physical activity and the birth weight of the child.

It is impossible for a woman bearing multiple foetuses (twins or triplets) to gain the same amount of weight as a woman having a single child.

So, weight gain varies during pregnancy, and so does weight loss. It will be easier and quicker to shed off fewer pounds gained.

Some amount of belly fat is inevitable after pregnancy. You need to understand that your body went through heaps of physical, emotional and hormonal changes during pregnancy, making you gain weight gradually. Since the entire weight gain did not occur instantaneously, weight loss may also not occur at once.

It is essential to give your body some time before the normalisation of hormone levels and the flattening of the distended stomach occurs. Reduction in belly size also depends on how soon your uterus returns to its original form. Additionally, during pregnancy, all the body cells are swelled up and it takes some time to release excess fluid in the form of sweat and urine.

It takes around 4 weeks for your uterus to return to its original size, which is when you may notice a slight reduction in your waist size. However, for some women, it may take a few more weeks after that.

The answer to this depends on your body structure and health during pregnancy. Other than this, it also depends on your genes and body tendency to gain fat. Usually, it takes around several weeks to months to shed off this weight.

If your weight gain is lesser than 13.6 kgs, it is likely that you will shed weight and belly fat faster. First time mothers are also likely to lose weight quicker.

It is suggested to not expect any significant weight loss for at least a duration of 6 months post delivery.

There are a number of ways you can lose belly fat. It is recommended to refrain from any diet or vigorous exercise at least six months post birth. Trying to lose weight too fast after delivery will affect the health of the infant by negatively affecting the quality of breast milk. It will also delay your tissue recovery.

You require more energy to take care of yourself and the baby after delivery. Severe calorie restriction will lead to fatigue and tiredness. To avoid this, some healthy tips to reduce belly after pregnancy have been discussed below.

  1. Breastfeeding to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  2. Diet tips to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  3. Eat frequently to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  4. Avoid unhealthy snacking to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  5. Drink more water to reduce belly fat after pregnancy
  6. Foods to reduce belly fat during breastfeeding

Breastfeeding to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

Breastfeeding the baby is not only essential for the newborn, but it also helps in losing extra pounds quicker.

Research evidence has reported that women who breastfeed lose weight faster than those who do not. The rationale of this being that the synthesis of milk in your body channels a lot of calories and nutrition, which is then fed to the baby.

Also, breastfeeding stimulates the contraction of the uterus enabling it to shrink quicker, which will help you in reducing belly fat.

So, a healthy practice to lose weight will be to breastfeed regularly.

Diet tips to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

Although breastfeeding is a natural activity helping you in weight loss, it is important for you to note that you would not lose any weight, in fact, you would gain weight if you eat an excess of calories.

The calorie consumption during pregnancy is increased to meet the needs of the growing foetus. After childbirth, you can safely reduce this number, while being sure that you consume enough to sustain energy needs and adequate breast milk production.

The amount of calories needed depends on your body weight, levels of physical activity, body needs and the time elapsed since childbirth.

You can gradually reduce the number of calories, beginning at six months postpartum or a bit earlier if desired.

Eat frequently to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

Frequent meals, that is, 5 to 6 meals a day consisting of three main meals and frequent snacking, is likely to help you in reducing belly fat.

It is recommended to opt for 5 to 6 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in a day, which will provide fewer calories and better nourishment.

It is also important to not skip any meals. This can be hazardous for your health and that of the baby and it will not help you lose any belly fat.

The most important meal of the day is breakfast and it is essential to have a healthy breakfast each day.

Avoid unhealthy snacking to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

While it is advisable to eat more often, it is important that you be mindful of the foods you eat. Most women crave sweet foods following childbirth in an attempt to reduce postpartum anxiety. Called ‘emotional eating’, this practice is highly detrimental to your health and increases belly fat. 

So, you are recommended to limit, if not stop, the consumption of sweet and sugary items. Along with this, the intake of fried, fast foods and packaged foods must also be strictly limited. 

These foods often lack in nutritional value and simply contribute to weight gain. Reducing them will surely cater to a reduction in belly fat.

Drink more water to reduce belly fat after pregnancy

Water is important for the hydration of your body and it also helps in flushing out of excess fluids and toxins acquired during pregnancy. So, drinking enough water post-pregnancy may help you in losing weight.

Other than this, drinking water before meals has also been evidenced to enhance satiety, allowing you to eat lesser during meals.

Foods to reduce belly fat during breastfeeding

Women who breastfeed, generally require around 500 more calories than what they consumed prior to pregnancy. While this is essential for healthy milk production, the choice of foods lies with you.

You are recommended to opt for healthy food sources like fibres, proteins and low-fat food products to avoid gaining belly fat.

Fibres will help to keep you full for long hours since they promote satiety, which, in turn, prevents unhealthy snacking. Other than this, fibres also aid in proper digestion of food. This will avoid digestive disorders like constipation and bloating, which are very common post-pregnancy. Relief from these conditions is likely to improve the appearance of your belly.

Proteins will help in increasing the muscle mass of your body, reducing the amount of fat.

Some of the best foods for breastfeeding women are lean meat source like fish, eggs, lean chicken; fresh fruits, vegetables and salad like carrots, cucumber, apple with skin, banana, whole grains and nuts like almonds, nut butter, low fat milk, yogurt, homemade foods like whole wheat bread sandwich, roti, etc.

Other than this, it is also essential to have more water during the period of breastfeeding to avoid dehydration. Having water will also help in improving the appearance of your belly by favouring the disappearance of stretch marks.

Exercising is an equally important part of reducing belly fat post pregnancy. It helps in toning your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, making your belly look tighter and more shapely. Exercising can be started as soon as healing has begun and you feel ready. Some of the best exercises are:

  • Walking for half an hour each day
  • Cycling or swimming with mild intensity
  • Low-intensity workouts
  • Light weight lifting
  • Exercises targeted at abdominal muscles

Under the supervision of a trained expert, your doctor or a physiotherapist, you may perform the following exercises:

  1. Exercising the abdominal muscles
  2. Exercise for lower abdominals
  3. Exercises for the pelvic floor

Exercising the abdominal muscles

Follow these steps:

  • Lie comfortably on your back
  • Then, breathe out and draw your belly button to the spine without moving your back
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds while breathing lightly
  • Repeat 10 sets

You can perform this exercise up to several times in a day.

Exercise for lower abdominals

This exercise must be performed only after the abdominal muscles are properly healed. Following are its steps:

  • Lie on the back with your knees bent and feet laying flat on the floor
  • Contract your abdominal muscles
  • Then, gradually aim to straighten your legs without arching the lower back
  • Perform ten repetitions and 3 sets

At first, it may be difficult to perform this exercise, but with the healing of abdominal muscles, you will be able to stretch your legs further. So, you must pace gradually and not aim for unrealistic goals in the very first session.

Exercises for the pelvic floor

These exercises are aimed at the strengthening of pelvic floor muscles, which will help in tightening of your lower belly. Pelvic floor muscles are the ones you tighten while holding to urinate. So, this is how you can identify these muscles for performing this exercise. Follow these steps:

  • Tighten and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, holding the position for 10 seconds
  • Gradually increasing the intensity of these squeezes, repeating the exercise 10 times
  • Perform 5 sets daily

These exercises can be performed while standing, sitting or lying, as per your comfort.

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References

  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Losing weight after pregnancy
  2. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Postnatal exercise - sample workout
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System; 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Your Weight Is Important
  5. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Abdominal fat and what to do about it. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Losing Weight