Post-Baby Body: Toning and Tightening Your Tummy

Post-Baby Body Toning and Tightening Your Tummy

Photo courtesy of Karla Marquez – Facebook and Instagram

Tightening skin postpartum requires dedication, tenacity, patience and hard work. And while it may be easy to fall prey to the promises of magical creams, or feel like you have to resort to expensive plastic surgery, that’s not necessarily the best or most effective route. Ultimately, strength training, cardio and a healthy diet are the best way to get a tight body. Work at it every day, and you’ll notice a difference in months, and certainly within the year.

Step 1: Get the OK From Your Doctor

Roughly six weeks post-delivery, visit your doctor to get the all-clear for beginning more intense physical activity. At that time, your physician can also test for what’s called diastasis recti, also known as abdominal separation, or over-widening of the midline connective tissue.

“Up to 30 percent of postpartum women will have some level of separation of the midline six weeks or more after delivery,” says Helene Byrne of BeFit-Mom, a prenatal and postpartum health and fitness expert. “Those with diastasis recti should avoid most traditional
abdominal exercises and moves that place strain on the abdomen, and should instead perform special rehab exercises for the condition.”

Step 2: Rebuild Abdominal Walls From the
Inside Out

Once you’ve got the OK, it’s time to get to work on those abdominal muscles, which you’ll do from the inside out. “This means first rebuilding a foundation of strength in the
deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis (TvA),” explains Byrne. “The TvA
compresses the abdominal wall, and is sometimes referred to as our body’s internal corset.” Exercises that work this deep muscle include planks and other core stabilizers.

Step 3: Move on to External Ab Exercises

Once you’ve built a strong TvA, you can move onto exercises that work the external abs (rectus abdominis). These exercises include crunches, situps and oblique twists. If you start with these exercises before developing your TvA, which is tempting, you’ll notice your abdomen bulges outward during exertion, which, explains Byrne, “prevents the abdominal wall from re-flattening after pregnancy.”

Step 5: Engage in Strength Training

General strength training of the entire body will also help tighten your skin. For maximum results on any part of your body — include arms, legs and chest — focus on a higher amount of reps with a lower weight. Never work out the same muscle group multiple days in a row. Instead, alternate which muscle groups you work. For example, arms on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, abs on Thursday and chest on Friday.

Step 6: Breastfeed and Pump

While baby certainly enjoys breastfeeding, Mom can reap the rewards, as well. “Breastfeeding helps to blast away some of the weight gained during pregnancy, which can help you look more toned,” explains Christen Cupples Cooper, registered dietician and owner of New York-based Cooper Nutrition. “It’s nature’s ‘built-in’ body slimmer.” Breastfeeding, and pumping, does so by burning calories and working the muscles.

Step 7: Don’t Forget About Your Diet

Put quality ingredients in your body to give you energy, which you’ll certainly need with a new baby. First: “Get off of sugar,” advises Debi Siliber, a registered dietician known as the Mojo Coach. “It offers no nutritional value, and having it daily is the easiest way to gain weight.” Instead, she says, consume whole, real, nutrient dense food that will keep you fueled throughout the day and provide your body with what it needs to keep going, going, going.

This page was last updated on 06/2017
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