So, after long months your baby is finally out and the bump is gone! All of a sudden your stomach looks like a deflated ball with squishy skin all over. No wonder – it has been stretching for over 9 months to adapt to the growing little human. Although you might be eager to get back into your pre-baby shape and looks as soon as possible, you have to be realistic here.
Tightening loose skin after pregnancy is a long run, it just does not happen overnight. It will be challenging, but if you stick to a couple of rules, it is totally doable. I know what I’m talking about. I have been there twice 🙂
It was very frustrating for me to look down and see all the sagged skin that once used to be my flat stomach. I was working hard to lose the pregnancy weight and the scales have finally started to move, but the skin was…well, just kind of hanging around.
We tend to forget what our body and skin have been through for the past 9 months. Those months have been very demanding for your body and it now works hard to restore itself. However, it will need your support to achieve better recovery and speed up the rejuvenating process of your skin after pregnancy.
There are a couple of factors that determine the ability of your skin to get back into its previous shape. It pretty much comes down to skin quality you inherited from your parents and the way you treated your skin before and during pregnancy.
Let’s face it. Sometimes, it is just out of your hands. You can try out all the tricks out there to avoid that saggy skin or stretch marks but you still end up having them. And that friend who has had 3 children and her belly looks like she has never been pregnant?
I bet her mother looked the same.
You just have to be prepared to fight these flaws by all means available and not giving in. Take me, for example. I always thought my belly will be covered with stretch marks after pregnancy as my mom has them too. I have stretch marks all over my buttocks and tights.
So I was prepared that my belly will meet the same fate but desperately tried my best to avoid them. And, two pregnancies later, my belly skin did not crack at all!
I was over the moon when I checked my skin a few days postpartum.
Collagen and elastin are your best friends
These are the most common proteins found in the skin. There are plenty of ways how you can improve skin’s elasticity. Number one is hydration.
Your water intake is crucial to maintaining the skin’s natural properties.
Now here’s the good part:
You can easily boost collagen levels by eating foods that stimulate the body to increase its production (high-protein foods, nuts, Aloe Vera, Algae, vitamin C). The amazing thing about collagen is that the more your body has, the more it is able to produce and preserve.
Nourish your skin and body with collagen both from the inside as well as outside. There are many amazing supplements that promote healthy collagen and elastin production.
My favorite is Total Body Collagen which has great taste and in addition to collagen it contains hyaluronic acid – these two wonders help increase your skin’s elasticity. On top of that, your depleted nails and hair will THANK YOU.
Apart from getting collagen into your body, you can also try applying it onto your skin. There are plenty of collagen lotions and serums available that can help to improve the appearance of your skin. I use collagen body oil that contains vitamin C and E. It leaves my skin amazingly plump and smooth. I absolutely love it.
Careful with those extra pounds during pregnancy
Putting too much weight on quickly during pregnancy significantly affects the skin’s ability to “shrink back”. During both pregnancies, I’ve gained around 27 lbs each time.
I have to be honest, I ate everything and didn’t strain from indulging foods at all 🙂 I was lucky enough not to have any health issues so I could exercise and do yoga until the 7th month of pregnancy. After my first pregnancy, the skin on belly returned to its previous shape approximately 9 months postpartum.
Right now, I am 4 months after the birth of my second son, the skin is starting to look better, but there is still a lot of fat underneath that I need to get rid of. Still, work in progress 🙂 I am eager to find out if the skin is still able to shrink back the same way the second time around.
So what’s the bottom line?
If you want to increase your chances of ending up your pregnancy with crinkle-free belly skin, it is very important to watch out on your weight gain. If you gained weight slowly, little by little, your skin was stretching gradually without ruining its elasticity.
After one successful skin tightening and another one in progress, I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far about restoring my postpartum skin.
Here are my 5 useful tips for a tight post-baby belly:
1. HYDRATE FROM THE INSIDE AND ALSO OUTSIDE
Waters helps the skin to be more elastic. Only skin that maintains elasticity is able to return into its previous shape. Apart from improving your skin’s condition, staying hydrated will help you to burn calories more effectively and reduce water retention in the abdomen area.
In addition to water intake, you can also improve the appearance of your skin by applying lotions or oils. Aim for skin care products that contain collagen, vitamins C, E, and A. Massage them into the skin with circular movements at least once a day, ideally after the shower.
Scrubbing or brushing helps to stimulate better the blood flow, removes dead skin cells and improves the quality of your skin. Using an exfoliation brush also helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
I know that for a new mom, it can be hard to squeeze in a shower every day, but try to practice exfoliation as much as possible – your skin will thank you.
Use a brush with natural bristles for dry brushing your belly, tights, and bottom just before you hit the shower.
About twice a week, I do this wonderful home-made body scrub that makes the skin look instantly rejuvenated and helps to diminish the look of cellulite.
Here is the recipe:
Mix coffee grounds (fresh or used from a coffee machine will also do the trick) with coconut oil and add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil (optional).
Apply this mixture with circular movements onto your skin and rub for a few minutes. Your skin will feel super smooth and moisturized thanks to coconut oil. The caffeine can dehydrate fatty cells which makes water disappear from the surface of your skin, leaving it looking smoother and tighter. Grapefruit essential oil is one of the best anti-cellulite essential oils out there. It contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps to reduce fluid retention and swelling.
3. EXERCISE YOUR CORE
Building up a lean muscle underneath the loose skin helps to burn excess stomach fat and tone up the belly area which eventually leads to tighter, smoother looking skin.
The reason is simple:
There are two layers of tissue underneath the skin – fat, and muscle. Both of them press-up against the skin and keep it from sagging. Strong core muscles fill in the looseness in the skin, creating a visibly tighter appearance.
Try to squeeze in some extra core exercises whenever you can. I know it’s hard to do the entire core workout session when your baby’s naps are so short you barely even have time to eat a decent meal during nap time. (my son hardly ever sleeps longer than 15 minutes during the day).
What I do daily is I squeeze the core muscles during walks with the stroller or carrier and 3x 30 seconds plank before I go to bed. It is better than nothing. Every little helps.
4. WEAR GIRDLE or SLIMMING PANTS
I wore a postpartum girdle for about 6 weeks after delivery. It gives you great back support, helps the abdominal muscles to regain strength and return to its normal size faster.
It is not a miracle device, though.
Girdle won’t make you lose weight or fat, but it definitely supports your core and can provide you with a little extra self-confidence. With girdle, you can wear your regular clothes without feeling self-conscious. Most girdles are safe to wear all-day-long, but you might want to take it off for sleeping. Bear in mind that exercising while wearing girdle is not recommended.
5. EAT NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS
Elastin and collagen are two proteins that keep our skin elastic and healthy. They work together to give the skin its shape and texture.
Eating protein-rich foods such as cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, legumes, tofu, nuts, and fish can help to improve the quality of your skin, as they contain collagen and elastin forming components.
Another great way how to boost collagen is Aloe Vera. This wonderful plant has unique cell-growth stimulating properties that can help boost collagen production in your skin. Apply Aloe directly to the skin in pure form, or as a lotion or cream and massage well.
I use a pure Aloe Vera gel that I bought during our holiday on Tenerife Island for almost every skin issue we have and it works wonders for me.
Make sure you get enough of vitamin C, as it works together with hyaluronic acid to boost collagen production in your body. Eating foods rich in vitamin C and amino acids can increase the levels of hyaluronic acid and collagen to help maintain healthy and youthful skin appearance.
I know that sometimes, it can be so frustrating looking into the mirror seeing all that excess skin just hanging around, but be patient. The skin on your belly has been stretching for over 9 months, so it might as well take the same time to regain its elasticity.
In the meantime – be persistent, be patient and, what is most important – be good to yourself.
How did you manage to tighten your skin after having a baby? I would love to read your experience!