Losing the belly fat after pregnancy without exercise is possible, and many postpartum mamas think that spending time doing an intense ab routine is going to reduce belly fat after pregnancy. The good new is that there are some simple steps you can take with your diet routine, that will help you burn belly fat even while breastfeeding! If you've lost the baby weight, are back to your pre-pregnancy weight, but still look pregnant, then this is the right post for you. I've got all the tips and tricks you need to lose the mommy tummy without exercise, and I have some simple exercises you can add to get a flat tummy even faster.
What is the postpartum belly?
The postpartum belly is a combination of diastasis recti and extra weight. Diastasis recti after birth is completely normal, and it takes times for the abdominal muscles to heal. As baby grows during pregnancy, the abdominals separate, and the connective tissue stretches to allow room for baby. This is about half of the belly, while the other half is going to be extra weight and skin left from pregnancy. Weight gain during pregnancy plays a large role in adding to the mommy tummy after baby. The more weight you gained during pregnancy, typically the more of a belly you have postpartum. If you want to get rid of your tummy after pregnancy, and your tummy to go back to it's original size without exercise, you absolutely can. There of course are some very simple and healing exercises you can do to treat your abdominals, which I highly suggest, but you don't have to follow an intense exercise program.
7 Steps to reduce belly after pregnancy (without exercise!)
- Start eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and lean protein (eat clean!)
- Eliminate processed carbohydrates, sugar, candy and chips
- Increase protein intake (this is so important to metabolism and blood sugar balance!)
- Increase physical activity like walking and step count
- Use milk supply boosters to ensure your breast milk stays strong
- Drink more water (this will help with milk production and metabolism)
- Count macros to ensure you keep protein high, burn fat and balance blood sugar
Following each of these steps are the best way to reduce the tummy, increase energy levels and find your pre-pregnancy body again. Most of the tummy is extra weight from pregnancy, so these steps will really help you reduce a lot of the belly.
Why eating clean is so important to losing the mommy tummy postpartum:
I want to go into more detail on how new moms can eat clean, without counting calories for fast and safe postpartum weight loss. Losing weight while breastfeeding is trickier because of milk supply issues, but eating clean is really a simple trick to lose weight, but keep your milk supply. When new mothers reduce excess calories, that have low-nutrient content, and replace those foods with nutrient-dense foods, it signals to the body that there are plenty of nutrients to support lactation. If you struggle with eating clean, and knowing what to eat, we have a fabulous 28-day Breastfeeding Diet Plan that is full of recipes (with calorie counts!), and grocery lists, so you can follow the meal plan and watch your weight go down. Eating a clean diet also balances your blood sugar, which is really important to targeting belly fat. Usually, by reducing simple carbohydrates and unhealthy food, that results in eating more protein and nutrients This is the magic combination to increasing your metabolism and shedding extra weight.
The power of protein and nutrients to blast belly fat:
Digging a little deeper, increased protein intake is going to help your metabolism speed up, burn more calories, and maintain your muscle mass. Protein is really important postpartum for milk supply, healing loose or scarred skin, and lowering your blood sugar to signal to your body to burn extra fat. You can think of belly fat as extra carbs and sugar. The higher your blood sugar, the more weight your body will want to keep on your tummy. As hormones are fluctuating during pregnancy and postpartum, if blood sugar is out of wack, your hormones will be out of wack too. Getting back to your pre-baby body includes first eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods to balance your hormones. That is the most important, then you can get into some gentle exercise that are specific to healing your core, which I highly recommend. Postpartum exercise isn't essential to losing the belly after pregnancy, but specific exercises are extremely helpful, and they will speed up the process.
Balancing hormones are the hidden culprit to stubborn belly fat after pregnancy:
Blood sugar and hormone levels go hand-in-hand. If blood sugar is constantly a roller coaster, your hormonal changes are going to be on a roller coaster as well. After birth, estrogen levels drop dramatically so prolactin can increase. Typically, lower estrogen levels also signal to the body to store less fat and burn more fat. But, many new mums eat too many empty calories to attempt to increase milk supply (hello lactation cookies), or too much weight during pregnancy. Extra weight makes it harder for estrogen to drop because estorgen can be stored in fat cells. The more fat cells the higher the estrogen levels. This makes losing weight and maintaining exercise really difficult. Luckily, eating clean and reducing empty calories can combat this issue, and help bring your hormones into balance and reduce the extra weight. It is a really good idea to eliminate foods that are low in nutrients to achieve that. Most of the time, just switching your diet to eating clean and nutrient-dense will be all that you need to do.
You diet is very powerful when it comes to flattening your tummy again, especially if you can't or don't want to exercise. However, there are some very important physical therapy exercises that are very different than working out. These healing abdominal exercises and pelvic floor exercises can heal your muscles from the inside out, which will pull your abs back in and greatly reduce or heal any diastasis recti.
Important exercises to heal your belly after pregnancy:
As mentioned, you can reduce your belly after pregnancy without exercise, but these exercises will help speed that process up, prevent injury if you do want to start working out, and ultimately bring your core and pelvic floor back together. I don't suggest skipping these, even if you don't like to work out becuase pregnancy and birth causes injuries to the muscles and skeleton system. With any other injury like this, a person would go see a physical therapist for help and healing. The same should be done after birth, and many physical therapists now specialize in pelvic floor therapy as well, so they can asses and fix any injuries postpartum.
Some important exercises to reduce your belly after pregnancy are:
- Pelvic tilts
- Side planks (on a knee)
- Tabletop position (Pilates)
- Hip Bridges
- Posture work
All of these exercises are outlined in a great 8-week program, and will help build the abdominal wall, and you will see physical changes faster.
Of course, seeing a physical therapist is time consuming and expensive, so there are a number of exercises you can do at home that will make a tremendous impact on your belly. I've personally had 4 babies, so I've had to learn which exercises are worth doing, and which ones aren't. I put together a great 8-week Mommy Pooch Challenge with all my favorite exercises that have built my core back after each pregnancy. I've been able to run, workout, ride my Peleton and more without any major issues because I take the time to do these exercises. The program starts with 2 weeks of healing your core with specific Pilates-based exercises, then you start strengthening your core again so you can build back into doing planks, burpees and more rigorous activity.
Will a belly wrap help me reduce my belly after pregnancy?
Many mamas think that a waist trainer or belly wrap will help flatten their tummy. Unfortunately the waist trainers can not push your stomach back in, reduce loose skin, train your stomach muscles or reduce fat. There are still a couple of benefits to wearing a waist trainer postpartum.
Benefits of wearing belly wraps postpartum:
- A belly wrap or waist trainer will encourage better posture.
- You can't eat as much at once, so you can control your appetite
- The pressure reminds you to breath correctly and pull your abs in
The postpartum wraps help correct posture, and when you stand up straight with your shoulders back your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles are encouraged to engage properly again. If you wear a wrap while eating, it is really hard to eat a big meal, which makes eating less a little easier. Lastly, feeling the pressure on your belly button tends to naturally encourage you to pull your abs in, so they aren't pushing out against the wrap.
What can you do to prevent the mommy tummy after birth?
After pregnancy, there are some things you can do right after birth to help you prevent the mommy pooch from even developing. Here's where to start:
- Wear a postpartum belly wrap to support the muscles and encourage good posture
- Practice sitting and standing taller with an engaged core (no slouching and breastfeeding)
- Grab our NEW FitMama bundle to help you shed fat and heal your mommy tummy!
Managing a new born is a full-time job, so it can seem overwhelming to have to heal your body after birth as well. But, you really only need to spend 5-10 minutes working on your core every day with effective exercises, AND you can accomplish a lot just through your posture and a belly band.
Overhang vs. belly fat, which is which?
The overhang is a result of excess skin and possible scar tissue from a cesarean:
Excess skin after pregnancy comes from a very large belly.
- If your baby was very large and/or you gained an excess amount of weight, your skin had to stretch farther. This can result in the skin not being able to regain elasticity and hanging over.
- Managing weight gain during pregnancy is the KEY to keeping this from happening.
- Using moisturizers and oils can help the skin stretch easier during pregnancy, so it can recover postpartum.
Excess skin can also be a result of a cesarean birth and scar tissue.
- Healing postpartum after a cesarean takes extra time and care. Mobilizing the scar tissue at the site of the scar can help soften the tissue and lessen the overhang.
- The incision and trauma to the area from surgery can inhibit the healing process for the skin, so it remains lose.
You can reduce the overhang by reducing overall fat.
- By losing the extra fat gained during pregnancy, you can make HUGE strides in reducing the overhang. Many times, new mamas don't realize how much of the overhang is extra fat, not skin.
- You can't spot-reduce fat, but you can lose fat by walking more, eating whole foods, and focusing on protein and fiber to fill your diet (lean protein, veggies and fruit).
"I love Milk Dust! I’m about 6 weeks postpartum and haven’t started working out yet (waiting to be cleared by the OB) but I have started watching what I eat. With the help of Milk Dust I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, without sacrificing my milk supply! I have struggled with some crazy sweet cravings and Milk Dust satisfies those cravings."
-Heather (verified buyer)
Here are some things you can do now to reduce your belly after pregnancy :
- Jump start your weight loss with our free, 10-day diet plan (that won't affect your milk supply)
- Follow this 8-week program to heal your core (this is the one that worked for me!)
- Look into a great protein powder to increase protein consumption. Milk Dust is formulated for breastfeeding mamas.
- Find a good belly band to help you with posture
- Get more steps in every day (aim for 10k)
These are very simple, actionable steps you can take NOW to start losing the mommy pooch and regaining your abs again.
What if my milk supply drops when I try to eat healthy to lose my mommy tummy?
Sometimes, you can eat clean and do all the right things, but your milk supply needs some support. Many times, if this is the case, extra milk supply boosters can be really helpful. Unless otherwise diagnosed by a medical professional, many times hormones are bit out of balance because of nutrient deficiencies. Filling these gaps with supplements like Milk Dust protein powder are really helpful. Milk Dust is specifically formulated to fill in the nutritional gaps often found in postpartum mamas. The most important thing is that a mother is fully nourished, so she can nourish her baby.
Milk Dust also provides exceptional herbs in a patent-pending lactation blend to help support increased lactation. These herbs like Milk Thistle, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek and Red Rasbperry Leaf all work together to make a powerful lactation blend.
Do not stop eating healthy, and choose lactation cookies, or high-calorie low-nutrient foods for quick milk supply results if you can. This will start an endless cycle of needing high amounts of sugar and carbs to compensate for the lack of nutrients.
If you still have trouble with milk supply, focus on healing your abdominal area with core exercises. This program is a great way to do that without having to spend a lot of time and money!