Loose Skin after Pregnancy? A lot went on during your pregnancy. You planned a nursery, selected a name, made daycare decisions, and purchased clothes and baby gear. Those around you shared your anticipation and most probably threw you a shower and gave you lots of gifts. It was fun and exciting.
You also experienced a miracle. A brand new life actually developed inside of you. Day by day, you felt that beautiful new life grow bigger and stronger. You felt it move around. You talked to it. You caressed it. You fell in love with it.
After you delivered your baby, however, you probably didn’t feel so marvelous. Not because of your precious child – she is wonderful and you just love being her mother. It’s the loose skin your pregnancy leaves behind. You have it on your stomach, hips, and perhaps even your back. Some time may have even passed since your pregnancy and you may have even lost some weight. But, that post-baby belly loose skin is still there. You probably fixate on it whenever you take a shower and whenever you dress. It probably frustrates you and interferes with your self-esteem.
How to Get Rid of Loose Skin after Pregnancy
So, what can you do? Well, first of all, and most importantly, you must go easy on yourself. Your pregnancy – that wonderful miracle that gave you your beautiful child, is what stretched your skin. Try to remember that. As well, avoid at all costs, magazines and online articles about celebrities and their perfect bodies just weeks post pregnancy. Those women had plastic surgery. Even the teen moms had plastic surgery. No one gets their pre-pregnancy body back that quickly no matter how much they diet and exercise. No one.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with plastic surgery (it will be discussed later in this article). Just don’t be deceitful about it and make other women doubt themselves. We’re all in this together.
Your Skin’s Elasticity
When you were pregnant, your uterus grew to about five times its normal size. Even more, if you had multiples. Such placed a tremendous strain on your belly’s skin. You may have even developed stretch marks, which are tiny tears in the tissue beneath your skin.
Your individual makeup and your skin’s unique elasticity governs how freely it can stretch and how much it can then re-tighten. Think of your clothes. You have some items that immediately snap back to normal even after you stretch them to an extreme, but other items immediately lose their shape after you slightly pull them open a bit. The same notion applies to your skin. Everyone is different.
Will Post Baby Belly Loose Skin Ever Re-Tighten?
Extreme situations can damage skin’s elasticity. Rapidly gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy and/or rapidly losing a lot of weight afterward can cause the skin to become permanently stretched.
Most medical sites say that you should only gain between 30-35 pounds during your pregnancy and that if you gain more, you should realize that some loose skin is permanent. While a few discuss what women realistically gain, one or two say that more than 50% gain more than what doctors recommend. So, let’s look at the situation pragmatically.
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If you gained more than 30 pounds, don’t get too upset over it. Most women did. That also means that most women will have some amount of loose skin that will never fully re-tighten. Okay, so maybe some of your skin will always be loose. You’re not alone. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s all permanent and that there’s nothing you can do to get rid of the baby belly loose skin.
How to Tighten Loose Pregnancy Skin
You’ll probably be eager to start losing weight immediately after you deliver. But, remember, extreme circumstances negatively impact your skin’s elasticity. If you lose weight too quickly, it will only make your skin looser. Instead, lose weight gradually. 1-2 pounds per week is an excellent goal. Such gives your skin time to react properly, recuperate and regain elasticity.
Moving about and sweating also helps lessen excess skin. So, exercise is ideal. How soon after you deliver varies depending on whether you gave birth vaginally or by C-Section and how much you can personally move about. The hospital will probably provide you with a list of exercises you can perform upon discharge. And, always check with your doctor before you start any kind of exercise. You should always make sure you are safe.
Cardio workouts are the ideal way to get your body going and make it perspire. They’re usually enjoyable and they work off calories. Plus, they’re easy to do and you can perform most without the use of a gym and with little or no costly equipment. Here’s a list of some cardio exercises and the calories each one works off:
- Running (600 – 700 calories per hour)
- Jumping Rope (over 1000 calories per hour)
- Swimming (600 – 700 calories per hour)
- Cycling (600 – 700 calories per hour)
- Rowing (700 – 1000 calories per hour)
- Walking (300 – 400 calories per hour)
- Aerobics (500 calories per hour)
- Zumba (350 – 600 calories per hour)
Walking is actually the perfect cardio exercise. It’s low impact and easy on the joints, especially the knees, and back. And, most can walk longer than they can run, swim, cycle, or do any other cardio exercise. Start with 20 minutes, three to five days a week, and gradually increase.
Walking also provides the following extra benefits:
- improves your overall fitness
- increases your endurance
- keeps your heart healthy
- improves your circulation
- relieves depression
- decreases fatigue
- reduces pain
- limits weight gain
- boosts your mood
- decreases your cancer risk
- decreases your chronic illness risk
- improves your posture
And, this is only just a partial list.
Weight training will further help to tighten your loose skin. Weight training builds muscle, which decreases fat. There’s fat beneath your loose skin. So, when you decrease the volume of fat beneath your loose skin, it tightens.
Many women avoid weight training as they fear it will add “bulk.” That is a misconception. Weight training tones build and shape muscle. It also enhances your body composition (percentage of lean muscle to body fat) and helps raise your metabolism. Plus, muscle helps you burn calories – the more you have, the more you burn. It was just noted above that weight training decreased the volume of fat under the loose skin. Well, it lessens the amount of fat all over your body, too.
Weight training also increases your bone density. This is vital for all women, especially those over age thirty-five.
Any kind of workout that targets your core will help lessen post-baby belly loose skin. Your core refers to the muscles in your abdomen, back and sides. Such muscles stabilize your body.
Common core exercises include pushups, sit-ups, and planks.
Ways to Find Exercise Time
Finding time for exercises can be extremely difficult, especially when your baby is very young. Sometimes just getting a shower is a luxury. Such is understandable. As stated earlier, go easy on yourself. This is simple, yet important advice. When you’re adjusting to a new baby and simply just trying to get enough sleep and perhaps even returning to work, you need to be patient with yourself and not put excessive pressure on yourself. There are no contests and no one should be judging you.
For Zumba or Aerobics, you could purchase a dance DVD and/or video game. They’re generally great fun and you can use them in your home, at your leisure.
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Some gyms or YMCAs are open 24/7 or open very early in the morning. Some also offer circuit training or a circuit course, which is a full workout in a short time, usually less than thirty minutes. Some also offer cycling, aerobics and Zumba classes, as well as classes that combine cardio and pump instruction.
Yoga, Pilates, and Barre Classes focus on motions that tighten your core, as well as, your hips and glutes. Such classes also enhance your muscle tone.
Other Ways to Tighten Post Baby Loose Skin
Protein helps you build muscle. Remember that muscle helps tighten loose skin by decreasing the fat under your loose skin and also increases your metabolism (if you’re nursing, your doctor may have even advised you to eat protein). Foods high in protein include:
- meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken)
- fish (halibut, salmon, tuna, cod)
- peanut butter
- nuts (almonds, cashews)
- pumpkin seeds
If you can’t eat or don’t like fish, you can always take a fish oil supplement.
Eat Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids help create skin’s natural oil, which is vital in keeping it looking young, hydrated, and plump. Foods high in healthy fats include:
- coconuts and coconut oil
- dark chocolate
- fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, mackerel, and herring)
- chia seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
As we get older, we lose collagen. That’s why we develop wrinkles and sagging skin. Collagen helps provides elasticity to our skin and keeps it looking youthful. Protein-rich foods contain collagen. Additional foods that contain collagen include:
- red vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, beets)
- dark green vegetables (spinach, kale)
- orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes)
- soy (cheese, tofu)
- citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)
- protein (egg whites, peanuts)
Vitamins and minerals additionally help maintain skin’s elasticity. Looks for supplements that contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and biotin.
Water helps hydrate your skin, which in turn, preserves elasticity. Your body is also more efficient when it’s appropriately hydrated. It burns fat better and decreases how much water you retain. It even helps your skin look younger – more than any kind of skincare product. Generally, you should try to drink half your body weight in ounces. That, however, is just the minimum level. Drink at least a gallon a day.
Are There Skin Treatments for Loose Skin?
Exfoliating or use a body scrub at least once a day to loosen and remove your skin’s top layer. Such stimulates blood, which can enhance elasticity and improve your skin’s health. Exfoliating feels nice, too, so go ahead and treat yourself to a pleasant smelling scrub from one of those specialty body product retailers. They offer wide rant of salt and sugar scrubs. You might even be able to get a good deal on exfoliates on a body scrubs from at a discount store.
This anti-hemorrhoid cream works by absorbing excess fluid within the skin. Many also believe it tightens loose skin. Women, especially celebrities, have been using it for years under their eye area to relieve puffiness. Spread it over your loose skin once a day
Keeping your skin well hydrated will definitely help maintain elasticity and there are many moisturizers from which to choose. Like with the scrubs, you could treat yourself to a pleasant smelling moisturizer from a specialty retailer or find a good deal on one from a discount store. Baby lotions also smell especially good and hydrate your skin very well. And, then there’s baby oil and petroleum jelly.
You get great results with moisturizers and baby oils when you apply them right after bathing when you’re still wet before you towel off or put on a bathrobe. So, apply it all over, not just on your loose skin area. The moisturizer will then work with the warm moisture that’s still on your body and soothe and hydrate your entire body.
For thicker moisturizers, like petroleum jelly, a nighttime treatment is easiest. Apply the product liberally over your loose skin. Wear a tee-shirt or pajamas to protect your sheets.
Aloe Vera contains malic acid, which naturally tightens skin. And, it’s also a terrific non-greasy, hypoallergenic moisturizer for your entire body.
Essential oils improve your skin tone and keep it well hydrated. Simply rub them directly onto your loose skin at night. Warm olive or coconut oil feels especially nice. Almond, lavender, and grape seed oils are also good for stretch marks. You can even make your own essential oils. You can mix castor oil with lavender or peppermint oil or lemon juice. Give yourself an essential oil treatment once or twice daily for several weeks.
For a special treat, ask your partner to give you an essential oil massage. It gets your blood flowing and that definitely helps your skin maintain elasticity.
As just mentioned, massage helps your blood circulate, which positively affects skin elasticity. And, well, a massage feels really nice. And, it’s a good idea, especially after being pregnant for nine months, going through labor, and caring for a newborn, to treat yourself to something nice.
These products were created to increase the collagen and elastin in your skin. Collagen and elastin both help skin retain its structure.
Palmer’s Firming Butter is a highly recommended firming cream. It contains the vital moisturizers shea butter, cocoa butter, Vitamin E, as well as collagen and elastin. It also has ginseng, which nurtures and revives the skin, and Co-enzyme Q10, which smooths and revitalizes the skin.
What Should be Avoided?
Avoid anything that could dry out and damage your skin, such as tanning beds. The sun’s rays also damage your skin, so always wear sunscreen, even when it’s not summer.
Also avoid sulfates, as they dry and irritate skin. Sulfates are commonly used in soaps and shampoos to create lathers.
Hormone and cortisol play a big part in how much fat you can lose, how tone you can make your muscles, and how much you can tighten your skin after pregnancy. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which means it breaks down muscle. If it gets too high, your body can store food as fat, refuse to burn it, and choose instead to save it for fuel. The fuel winds up in the stomach area and looks just like loose skin post-pregnancy.
In order to make sure your cortisol levels remain normal, make sure you get enough sleep. When you lose sleep, your body releases
Cortisol. You must then rest in order to balance it.
Also, consider your caffeine intake. That’s difficult to do, considering how little sleep you’re probably getting during this time. But, caffeine spikes cortisol. So, if you’re sleep deprived, consider limiting caffeine to the morning or perhaps just for a little while and see if your body responds.
Can Anything Else Provide Extra Confidence?
Shapewear can compress the areas in which you have loose skin and make it look and feel tighter. While it doesn’t do anything magical, it can make you look smoother and cut a few inches off your stomach and waist during the time in which you wear the garments. This can have a huge impact on the way in which you look and especially on the way you feel. Shapewear can provide you with confidence and make you feel just a little bit more like yourself.
Make sure, though, that your shapewear fits properly. Select brands with breathable materials to minimize chaffing. It should fit snugly, not tightly, and should not feel uncomfortable or interfere with your activities. If it’s too tight, it can slow your circulation. If you can’t breathe or feel woozy and sweaty, remove it right away. Besides, when it’s too tight, it won’t flatter.
You should also limit wearing shapewear to about eight hours a day.
What About Plastic Surgery?
Sometimes only plastic surgery can totally correct and remove all the loose skin that pregnancy causes.
During an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, a surgeon brings the abdominal muscles together, flattens and stretches the abdominal skin, and removes stretch marks.
Do know that abdominoplasty is an invasive surgical procedure that entails risks and costs between $5,000 – $10,000. Insurance usually does not cover any of the expenses, though some surgeons offer financial arrangements.
Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss or exercise alternative. Once the procedure is done, you still need to maintain the results.
Laser or Infrared Light Skin Tightening
Laser or infrared light skin tightening is a minimally invasive procedure that, as the names suggest, utilizes infrared light sources or lasers to tighten skin. The light sources/lasers heat the collagen beneath the skin’s surface, which then tightens the skin.
Radio Frequency Therapy
Radio Frequency therapy cools the skin and stimulates collagen and water holding molecules. Such re-inflates skin and gives it a tauter, smoother look.
CoolSculpting is a relatively new procedure. It targets fat cells beneath the skin and freezes them so they crystallize and die. Then, the body eliminates them. The procedure only impacts fat cells. Healthy cells remain untouched. CoolSculpting tightens skins. Experts believe that the intense cold activates the skin to produce collagen.
It’s a good idea to wait at least six months or even a year before having any plastic surgery. Your skin and body need that time to readapt to life post-pregnancy. Always check with your physician to see if you are healthy enough to undergo any procedure. And, always conduct research on any plastic surgeon or procedure you consider.
Will You Really Ever Be Yourself Again?
It’s normal to wonder if you’ll ever be who you were before and if your body will ever be the same again.
Women hold themselves to high standards. That’s great in many ways. It helps them persevere, conquer, and succeed. Unfortunately, though, it also makes them expect too much from themselves. Many new mothers lose confidence and push themselves to an impossible extreme because, on top of being perfect mothers, they think they must have a perfect body, too.
But, you should know that your body is already perfect. In fact, it’s amazing. You just made another human being. A gorgeous, incredible human being. The loose skin and stretch marks are simply reminders of all you just did. No one does anything amazing without some kind of reminder.
During this special time, you must love, value yourself, and take good care of yourself. Eat healthily and exercise and make all positive changes because you care about yourself and because it feels good. Take time to enjoy all the wonderful things that are happening. And, always remember that you are beautiful.