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What Will Your Stomach Look Like After Giving Birth?

30 Mar 2023
What Will Your Stomach Look Like After Giving Birth?

The birthing body is amazing in its ability to change, grow, and adapt. The transformation it makes over a nine-month period is kind of mind-blowing when you stop to think about it! Once your sweet baby has been delivered, though, you may be feeling anxious to get your body back. Many people eventually do, but you shouldn’t expect it to happen all at once. Recovery from pregnancy and childbirth takes time. Let’s examine your postpartum tummy, what to expect, and how to safely rebuild your strength.  

What Will Your Stomach Look Like After Giving Birth?

With an adorable new baby to fawn over, there’s a pretty good chance no one is going to be paying any attention to what your postpartum belly looks like. Considering the fact that you just experienced a major physical endurance trial with labor and delivery, though, it’s natural to wonder what your tummy will look like and when you can expect it to be back to its former glory.

Your skin and abdominal muscles are pretty stretchy and quick to recover. That said, 40 weeks of pregnancy and an arduous labor and delivery session can take their toll on the body. You may find your tummy lined with stretch marks and, depending on your metabolism and diet, you may have gained a little extra fat.

Over half of all pregnant and postpartum people experience a condition known as diastasis recti. During pregnancy, the rectus abdominis muscles (six-pack ab muscles) sometimes separate from being stretched. The separation can make a person's belly stick out or bulge months or years postpartum. It can be repaired with special exercises that help to close the separation.

Your Postpartum Belly Recovery Timeline

Your belly won’t go back to its original condition overnight. In general, it may take six to nine months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. For some people, it can take a lot longer, even years, especially if a person gained 35 pounds or more during their pregnancy. Every pregnant person has a different timeline for recovery, and there’s no specific timeline for postpartum weight loss. Some people seem to snap back pretty rapidly, while others may take quite a while. Here’s a broad timeline you can use as a general frame of reference:

The days immediately following delivery

Many people lose around 12 pounds of weight right after having the baby (maybe a bit more or less depending on the weight of the baby, the amniotic fluid, and the placenta). The belly will still look puffy, similar to the way it looked around six months of pregnancy. This is normal.

Six weeks postpartum

The tummy will continue to shrink as the body flushes out excess fluid and the uterus slowly contracts back to its previous size. The abdominal muscles and skin will begin to tighten up a bit as well. People who experienced a C-section will need at least a couple of weeks for the scars to heal and at least six weeks or longer to fully heal from the surgery.

Eight weeks postpartum

At this point, the uterus should be back to its former size and position in your body. Most people have lost some weight at this point, but it may be weeks or months before shrinking back down to pre-pregnancy size. The skin around the belly will have lost some of its elasticity, and the abdominal muscles will also be weaker. Give the body time to recover and practice some abdominal toning exercises before proceeding with anything too invasive, like a tummy tuck. People who’ve undergone a C-section may be advised to wear a support belt to reduce pain and pulling around the incision site.

Breastfeeding is another factor that may influence weight loss for some people. While breastfeeding burns about 500 to 700 calories extra per day to fuel milk production, this may not always contribute to weight loss after childbirth. Many factors, like pre-pregnancy weight, diet, and physical activity level, also affect weight loss after birth. On average, exclusively breastfeeding mothers may see a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a month, and over time, breastfeeding parents tend to lose more weight than those who do not breastfeed.

The Medela Postpartum Support Belt provides gentle abdominal support and extra control as your body adjusts after delivery or surgery. Made from a super-light, breathable nylon, spandex, and cotton blend designed to be ultra-gentle against your skin, Medela postpartum belly band adapts naturally to the curves of your body for maximized comfort. An adjustable Velcro closure, along with a smooth design made for discretion and invisibility beneath clothing, makes the Postpartum Support Band easy and convenient to wear, remove, or adjust as needed.

Can I Lay on My Stomach After Giving Birth?

Some people wonder “Can I sleep on my stomach after giving birth?” While no research has been done on the benefits of lying on one’s stomach after giving birth, according to Science Norway, stomach sleeping may be more comfortable for some people. If you’re experiencing stomach pain after giving birth (from the intermittent uterine contractions in the days following delivery), lying face down with a pillow under the stomach may help ease the discomfort.

Tips to Strengthen Your PostPartum Belly

Focusing on rebuilding your core strength can help tone weak abdominal muscles. It can also help develop more support for your back, which may be weakened from all the lifting and bending you’re doing with a newborn. Try to gently ease yourself into any new exercise routine so that you don’t impede your recovery, particularly if you developed diastasis recti. Starting a workout program that’s too vigorous while you’re still healing could put you at an increased risk for hernia or other injuries. Once you receive clearance from your healthcare provider, consider giving these exercises a try:

Modified crunches

Lie down on the ground. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Breathe out slowly and stretch one leg out parallel to the ground. Bring that leg back to the starting bent-knee position while breathing in. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Pelvic tilts

Lying in the same position, press your lower back into the floor. Try to draw your belly button down to your backbone. As you’re doing this, gradually tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly raise your hips about an inch off the floor.

Baby lifts

Once your baby is a few months old, you can include them in the workout fun. Lie in the same bent-knee position and seat your baby on your pelvis, holding them under their arms. Breathe in as you draw your belly button toward your backbone. Breathe out as you gently raise your rear end (one vertebra at a time) off the ground until you’ve lifted your body in a straight line from knees to chest. Alternatively, try this: Lie in the same position, breathe in, and raise your infant above you as you squeeze your abdominal muscles. Breathe out while bringing your little one back down to your tummy.

The Takeaway

It’s normal to gain weight when you’re pregnant. After giving birth, it takes a while for your body to adjust and recover. Remember, it took you nine months to get there, and it may well take you nine months to get back to where you were before. Don’t rush the process. Give your body the time it needs to heal.

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