It is completely normal for a body to change dramatically after pregnancy. As each body and each pregnancy is different to the person, there isn’t a universal timescale to when a body will return back to its original state, or a fit and toned one.
It may take weeks for some people to get fit and toned, and it may take months or even years for others. It is therefore vital to understand how to be patient with your body after such an intense time, as well as gentle exercises and health changes to help your body get back to a fit and toned state.
How long will it take for my body, then?
This depends on a bunch of factors. Each body will react differently after a pregnancy, from losing weight gain to body changes such as incontinence.
It therefore isn’t easy to give an exact timeframe, but the factors that could determine how long a body will bounce back include:
- Your body before pregnancy
- Weight gain from pregnancy
- Levels of exercise and healthy eating
If you had a slim build before and during pregnancy with minimal weight gain, chances are your body will naturally shrink back to normal within a few weeks or months.
This isn’t always the case though, as genetics can often play a role in body changes - for example, if your mother struggled to get toned after pregnancy, there’s a chance that your body will also take time.
Also, remember that you are a mother to a newborn, and your main priority is to keep them healthy and well. Sometimes getting fit and toned is not an essential priority for mothers, and that is okay.
The science behind it all
It is entirely possible to still look pregnant 6 months after giving birth. This is because the body has been stretched, so it won’t bounce back quickly.
In reality, it will take between 6-8 weeks until the womb shrinks back to its normal size. The stomach muscles also separate during birth, and they will take around 8 weeks until they go back to normal. This means you cannot expect your body to change dramatically immediately - it took 9 months for your body to grow and develop, so it will take some time before it changes again.
This also doesn’t mean that your stomach will go back to normal, because the skin does not determine the form of the muscles. Your body has excess fluids and fat that will naturally burn off immediately after birth, but results of toning may take time.
And don’t expect supermodel results, or even changing back to your original form, because almost every aspect of the body will be altered. Breasts can often triple in size, for example.
Breastfeeding is said to be an excellent way to lose pregnancy weight, as it is said to burn around 300 calories per day. You can lose weight alongside breastfeeding, as the body will make milk regardless.
Breastfeeding is also said to help shrink the size of a belly, as the muscles used to produce milk will create little contractions in the stomach. This is not the case for everybody, however, as each body is different.
It is actually recommended to not actively start to lose weight immediately after pregnancy. The body has been through a lot, so it needs all of the limited energy it can get to function as well as take care of a newborn.
It is therefore important to discuss with a doctor at the postnatal check before attempting a low-calorie diet or exercises that may put strain on your body. Gentle exercises such as walking the baby in a buggy are a great start to toning your body without harming it.
When people worry about the changes their body will make after pregnancy, stretch marks are one of the biggest concerns. When a person is pregnant, their body will move and grow alongside the baby, so as the skin stretches, stretch marks are almost unavoidable.
Potentially unfortunately, studies show that stretch marks can be linked to genetics - so if your mother had a lot of stretch marks during your birth and still has them, there’s a good chance that those genes will carry to you. Fear not, stretch marks are completely natural and should be celebrated rather than despised.
Some mothers like to use castor oil or products designed especially for preventing dark stretch marks, but the truth of the matter is that stretch marks will happen.
Stretch marks will gradually fade overtime, from the harsh red or purple color to a silver or skin toned color. They are not a sign of being unfit or untoned, stretch marks tell a story about how your body was a home for a human for 9 months - that is something that should be celebrated.
As with any fitness journey, a healthy and balanced diet is essential - especially after pregnancy.
Mothers will know that it isn’t always easy to stick to a diet plan due to time and energy constraints, but these are the best diet tips for contributing to weight loss after pregnancy:
- 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily
- Avoid high fat and high sugar foods
- High fibre and starchy foods are beneficial
- Try to stick to 3 meals a day without snacks in between
The unfortunate truth is that there is no universal timescale for when a post-pregnancy body goes back to its original state, let alone a fit and toned one. This all comes down to multiple factors, from genetics and diet to how much exercise you do.
Of course, all exercise is good exercise, but you cannot expect your stomach to be toned after several months. After all, your body was a home to a human being.
It’s all about being patient and gentle to your body, as the most important thing is to keep your newborn and yourself functioning well.
It is important to not compare your body to other mothers who will be on their own journeys, as some will find getting toned a lot easier than others, and to always consult with your doctor at the postnatal check up to discuss weight loss, getting fit, and toning your body.