Popping out a baby does a number on your body: Your boobs get droopier, stretch marks crisscross your middle, and your vagina, well, let’s not even go there. (Hint: Expect pigment changes.) But of all the issues brought on by a bun in the oven, one of the most frustrating is post-pregnancy belly flab. Is the squishiness fixable, or are flat abs a thing of the past? Even super glam Reese Witherspoon said in a recent interview with the blog Cricket’s Circle that her abs were “nonexistent” after she gave birth to her three kids. So we went to an expert to find out if it’s actually possible for every woman to get her core muscles back in pre-baby shape.
The truth: Though genes and your before-baby fitness level play a role, you might have to accept that some pooch is permanent. “A small number of women will be able to get a flat stomach again, but for the majority, it may take a lot of time or not happen at all,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., certified strength and conditioning coach and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It took nine months for your belly to stretch out to accommodate your baby, so it’s reasonable to expect it to take at least as long to lose the belly fat.”
And this is assuming that you gained the recommended 25 to 30 pounds of pregnancy weight. Putting on more than that means the fat may end up being stored as visceral fat, which is tough to get rid of. The other thing to keep in mind is that a after-baby belly jiggle may not have anything to do with your abs. The bulge can be the result of stretched out skin that’s lost its elasticity, and all the crunches in the world can’t firm it up again, says Rumsey.
If you’re a new mom dealing with a wobbly middle or a future mom freaked out by the news, don’t be discouraged. Reframe it like this: It’s actually freeing to know that it’s unlikely you’ll look like Fit Mom (or Reese Witherspoon, for that matter) once you’ve delivered a kid. Good for them for being so devoted to staying in shape. But if rock-hard abs are not in the cards for your body, why sweat it? Instead, focus on being healthy and getting to a good fitness level for you by easing back into your pre-baby fitness routine on your own schedule.
PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 25, 2015. BY ESTHER CRAIN
COPYRIGHT © 2015 Rodale Inc