Home > Body > Health > How long will it take for my tummy to shrink after birth?

Being a living breathing vessel is bloody hard. At nine months you just want to scream, “I’m done with this sharing malarkey, just give me my body back!

Then your wish comes true. And while it’s great – mainly because no one is internally kicking you anymore. This new you is not old you, and quite frankly, it feels a bit shit.  

But it doesn’t last forever.

Messages online will say it takes months or years for your stomach to return. Others will declare that it won’t ever be the same. Oh, and of course, you’ll see images of women who don’t even look like they’ve had a baby.

A few will make you feel better. Most will make you feel worse.
So, want to hear the truth? Not one person is the same. All our tummies, pregnancies and births differ. Your stomach before baby, in pregnancy, and after, will be different to every mother you know. There are so many variables, and there’s NO WAY you can compare both your bump and your body’s recovery to someone else’s.  

Now for some good news…

“The majority of women can get their tummy back with a sufficient level of guidance”, says Specialist Pelvic Health Physiotherapist Emma Brockwell.

A message we can all get on board with. Read on to find out how.

How will my tummy look after birth?

“Hold on? I still look pregnant”, said every new Mum in the history of motherhood.

It’s a shocker for sure, but it’s completely normal explains Emma Brockwell, “Your stomach has taken a long time to stretch to that shape, but it will go back”.

Mentally that’s hard, so don’t worry if it makes you upset because you won’t feel like this forever. In the meantime, wear lots of loose flowing tops and dresses and read on to find out what else you can do.

How long will it take for my tummy to shrink?

You’ve lived the last nine months reading how your body might change every week, so it’s understandable that you’d like some guidance on how things might go post-birth.

Fiit Mum trainer Charlie Launders, explains “Frustratingly, it is difficult to give an exact time or estimate because we are all so different. The time it takes for you tummy to return to its pre-pregnancy size will depend on your genetics, the size of your bump, the type of birth you had, and the amount of weight gained in pregnancy”.  

Also, let’s be honest, it would be pretty weird if your tummy did just snap back, “In the weeks and months following birth all of the organs that were squished and moved to make way for your baby need to return to their usual places. Your core muscles will be recovering without you even realising it, as well as your pelvic floor, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself “says, Charlie Launders.

How can I make my tummy flat after birth?

Yes, yes, we hear you cry. But when? “Expect it to take longer than 6-weeks, which is usually what women expect”, says Emma Brockwell. She adds, “Even if you haven’t had a c-section, that abdominal wall will take a good couple of months to strengthen” But that doesn’t mean it won’t gradually go down, because it will.

Does having a c-section mean your tummy takes longer to shrink?

If you didn’t plan to have a c-section, then it can be quite shocking. The recovery process can take some time, and it’s upsetting when your stomach doesn’t seem to be going down.

Want to shout, ‘Fuck off!’, at anyone that says, “You should be proud of your body, it grew your baby!”. Yeah, we don’t blame you. We love our babies, but we’d also quite like to feel like us again.

Think of it this way, you have had abdominal surgery, and yes, it will take a little longer for the tummy to strengthen and shrink, but at least your vagina is still intact. Small wins people.

What is diastasis recti?

Irrespective of delivery, any woman can experience diastasis recti. Even though it sounds very technical, it is very common (about 60% of women have it) and it is a term used for when the muscles in your stomach separate in order to make space for your growing baby.

Tummy exercises you can do after birth

Straight from the get-go, “The first thing you can do to start flattening your stomach is your pelvic floor exercises. Your pelvic floor connects to your core, which is what helps flatten the whole abdominal wall”, says Emma.

When can you do actual exercise after birth?

We sound like a broken record, but it really does differ from person to person. As Emma explains, “Slow progressive abdominal exercises are best advised on an individual basis by either a pelvic health physiotherapist or trained postnatal fitness instructor”.

How much is a postnatal MOT?

Feeling a bit broken? We’re not surprised, you’ve just carried a baby inside you and don’t even get us started on labour. 

Check-in with a professional and give your body the care and repair it deserves. Dependant on where you live, a postnatal MOT costs around £80. This will usually consist of an external and internal examination, where they will check the strength of your pelvic floor, your core and see if you have any muscle separation. Then they will advise you on recovery methods and exercises.

Feel like it’s a splurge? Just think about all the baby crap you’ve bought. You deserve this, so don’t feel guilty about having it.

Will my tummy always be different?

No actually, “Some women’s tummies aren’t that affected by having a baby, it depends on your connective tissue, how you carry your baby during pregnancy, how you’ve delivered and your genetic makeup. For the majority of women, they can get their tummy back with a really good level of guidance”, says Emma.

Based on what you love