Many moms are confused about how to get rid of loose skin after pregnancy. As a pre & postnatal fitness specialist, I am asked frequently about the best way to tighten your tummy and other areas that have stretched after pregnancy.
You may be wondering, how do I tighten loose skin after pregnancy?
When it comes to getting rid of loose skin after pregnancy, there are many factors to consider. Much of this has to do with how much weight you gained, how much your stomach and skin stretched, and what your genetic make up looks like when it comes to skin elasticity and collagen.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve the condition of the loose skin. You may not be able to completely get rid of the skin without surgery, but that’s not to say it’s not worth trying.
If you find yourself still wondering how to get rid of loose skin after pregnancy, here are a few tricks that I’ve experienced first hand that work for both me and my clients…
Lose Weight Slowly:
So many women are so excited to lose their baby weight, but remember, even amidst the excitement, to do so in a slow, healthy and sustainable way. Losing weight too quickly will only add to the problem of loose skin. If you lose weight quickly you will lose both fat and muscle. Muscle is a key factor not only in keeping your metabolism working properly, but also in giving you a tight, toned and lean shape that you want. Simply put: muscle helps your skin to keep its shape. Your skin needs time to adjust to its new shape when you lose weight. If you lose it too quickly, you may just end up with even more loose skin. Allow your skin time to regain its elasticity. A general rule of thumb is to aim for losing around 1-2 pounds per week.
Water will help hydrate your skin, making it more elastic. It will help your body to burn calories more effectively. On top of that, it will help reduce water retention in your belly area, which may make the appearance of loose skin less noticeable. If you haven’t been drinking your H20, here’s a good reason to start. In addition to making sure your skin stays hydrated from the inside (aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily) some research suggests that lotion and vitamin creams may also help outer layers of your skin stay hydrated and improve appearance. Use a lotion on your skin that contains collagen, as well as vitamins E, A, C, and K to help firm up loose skin. When you apply the lotion, massage it in. Massaging will improve blood flow to the area which helps your skin to appear firmer. Try massaging lotion to any loose skin once or twice a day.
It’s important to focus on core strengthening and diastasis recti healing exercises to tighten your stomach postpartum. In addition to strengthening your core, consider adding a total body strengthening program into your routine. Many moms miss the connection between lifting weights and tightening loose skin. They are afraid to strength train for fear of “bulking up” but what many women don’t understand is that strength training will actually help improve your overall muscle tone and will give you more lean muscle, resulting in a higher metabolism and a tighter, more toned look. Putting muscle on underneath the loose skin can help you tone up and tighten up your stomach area. And as a bonus, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Lifting weights will improve your body composition (the percentage of lean muscle to body fat) and by improving your body composition, you will reduce fat not just along your waist and underneath loose skin, but all over your body. Get 5 Postpartum Fitness tips on the Majka Blog here.
Consider your Cortisol:
Hormones play a HUGE part in fat loss and tightening and toning your body. What you may think is loose skin might actually be extra body fat stored in your belly. Specifically when it comes to loose skin after pregnancy, the hormone cortisol plays a big role. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone (causing a breakdown of lean muscle). The breakdown of this muscle leads to decreased metabolic capacity and increased fat storage. Cortisol harms the tightening of the muscles as well as the tone to reveal the muscle shape. When cortisol levels are high for long periods of time, your body can store food as fat and refuse to burn the fat that you do have. Essentially, your body is saving fuel. And for some women, this fuel ends up being saved right on their belly- appearing like it’s just loose skin after pregnancy. Read more about cortisol and breastfeeding here.
In addition to the tips above, nutrition is a great way to improve your skin’s elasticity. When skin loses elasticity, it can no longer return to its proper size.
Skin elasticity naturally decreases as we age, but this is an issue that women of all ages face. In terms of improving elasticity, research shows that this is mostly an inside job, meaning, the foods we eat.
If you can’t get all the vitamins and minerals you need from whole foods, the supplements we take, can help….
Does collagen tighten loose skin?
The innermost layer of your skin consists of proteins, including collagen and elastin. Collagen, which makes up 80% of your skin's structure, provides firmness and strength. According to research, Collagen and Elastin provide elasticity and helps your skin stay tight. Skin stretched during pregnancy often loses its ability to retract after weight loss due to damage to collagen, elastin and other components responsible for elasticity, so naturally improving Collagen intake helps to tighten loose skin.
How long does it take for your stomach to go back to normal after having a baby?
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. As for how long it takes for your stomach’s stretched skin to return, that timeline depends on skin elasticity.
Why is my belly still big after delivery?
It takes most mamas six to eight weeks for their stomach to shrink back down to normal size after giving birth. That's because not only does her tummy grow during pregnancy, but her uterus expands as well. As a result, women can look up to six months pregnant after giving birth. Factors including loose skin after pregnancy as well as abdominal separation known as DR can cause a mama’s belly to still look bigger than pre-pregnancy even after delivery.
About the Author: Kate Horney (aka BeyondFit Mom)
Kate Horney is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist with a degree in Exercise Science. Kate has a C.P.T. & B.S. in Exercise Physiology and is a health & fitness professional with over a decade of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She’s a busy mom of two boys who has a passion to give women the tools needed to reach their fitness, health, energy, nutrition, and training goals. Kate has over 10 years of experience in helping busy moms shed body fat, boost fitness, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Connect with Kate on her blog or on social media:
Looking for more ways to feel healthy postpartum? We think you'll like these blog posts too!
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- 5 Postpartum Fitness Tips
- Healing Postpartum: It's Not Just About Fitness
- Pelvic Floor and Core - 4 Things Every Mom Should Know
- Does Breastfeeding Make You Lose Weight?
Share your favorite ways to get active and feel healthy as a new mom with us @lovemajka #lovemajka #fuelingmotherhood