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Your Post-Baby Belly by Midwife Zoe

This blog is very relevant with the media frenzy that has happened since the birth of the new Royal “Prince George”. When Princess Kate Middleton passes the swaddled heir to charming Prince WIlliam, and she revealed a real-life new mum belly, the media went crazy. Her stomach round as a six month pregnancy. The whole world saw clear as day her post-baby belly in that clingy dress.

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Princess Kate Post-Baby Belly
www.theage.com.au

It has taken me by surprise all the comments that the media and even every day women have made. It seems that knowledge on a post-baby belly and what is normal is very limited. With comments like the one below it makes me think “are we really that uneducated on pregnancy, birth and post-baby?

This comment was made by a reporter for Jezabel:

“Kate looks gorgeous but can anyone tell me why the stomach still looks pregnant after the baby isn’t inside her anymore? I had no idea that happened……is it fluid or something?”

So lets discuss why your post-baby belly looks the way it does.

Women often are surprised to learn that looking very pregnant is not only NORMAL for the first few hours or days after giving birth but is is also NORMAL for weeks and months after birth. A woman has 40-50% more blood volume during pregnancy; all that excess fluid doesn’t just go down overnight.

From the moment your baby is born, hormonal changes cause your uterus to contract, shrinking it back to its pre-pregnancy state. It takes six to eight weeks for your uterus to return to its normal size, but it takes longer for you to loose your post-baby belly.

The hormones released during breastfeeding help speed up the process. All the cells in your body that swelled during pregnancy begin to release the extra fluid, which is eliminated from your body through urine, vaginal secretions, and sweat. And the extra fat you put on to nourish the baby starts burning off. But is takes at least a few weeks to notice results.

As midwives we are often asked “How long until my stomach goes down?”. That is hard to answer as everyone is different.

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Example of a Day 1 Post-Baby Belly

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Example of a Day 10 Post-Baby Belly

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Example of a Week 9 Post-Baby Belly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience is key. It took nine months for your abdomen to stretch to accommodate a full-term baby, so it makes sense that it would take at least that long to tighten back up.

The speed and degree of this transition depends largely on your normal body size, how much weight you gained during pregnancy, how active you are, and your genes. Women who gained less than 15Kg’s and exercised regularly during pregnancy, who breastfeed, and who have had only one child are more likely to slim down quickly.

If you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need to watch how much you’re eating in order to lose pregnancy weight. You need fewer calories now that you’re not pregnant.

Some of you may have heard of abdominal wrapping and seen the products in the baby shops. For thousands of years, women have practiced wrapping their abdomen following pregnancy to help reduce their post-baby belly. These traditional practices although seem only new in Australia have been long implemented in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The wrapping techniques commonly involved long strips of cloth wound firmly around a woman’s midsection after giving birth. As a new mother’s abdomen contracted, the cloth was shortened and tightened.  I myself have seen this when women from Brazil and Japan have given birth in our unit. They often seem to bind their belly’s post baby. More and more there seems to be abdominal binding products hitting the shelves in the way of abdominal belts or recovery shorts.

The gentle compression promotes supporting pressure to the pelvis, back and abdominal muscles improving your mobility and will actually help you regain your pre-baby body shape. Mobility is the key. By activating the core muscles with gentle compression this provides support and stimulates strengthening of the abdominal muscles facilitating muscle recovery. If you want to read more about such products head to this website http://www.recoveryshorts.com

Seeing Princess Kate’s post-baby belly is an important reminder that the process of making and giving birth to a baby does not end at birth. The slow shifting, shrinking and drifting of various tissues and parts is appropriately gentle and very well-designed. Of course it takes time!

Who knows what Princess Kate is thinking under her highly surreal circumstances, but opting to let us see the curve of her just recently pregnant body sure was a nice touch. If I were the least bit cynical, I’d think this was nothing but a royal plan to hook regular people into thinking she’s just like us.

There is beauty in embracing our imperfections and beauty in accepting ourselves and these bodies of ours that can do so many amazing things, like giving birth to a beautiful baby.

Zoe

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).