When you are pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes ranging from physical changes, hence the belly you now have, to hormonal and emotional changes. But getting your figure back and slimming your stomach back down to its pre-pregnancy size and shape will require some work that will not only take care of the pouch your darling child created, but also infuse you with more energy and better mental outlook.
One thing every woman should keep in mind when planning to get their figure back is that it takes the body approximately six weeks for the uterus to shrink to almost its former size - it never returns to the original configuration no matter what you do. The muscles of the stomach take a little longer to return to their proper length and elasticity, about three to six months.
You cannot expect to see results overnight, but you can help it along by doing postpartum exercises specifically designed to help those muscles. Also, if this is the first pregnancy you've had, you will lose some of the belly that you are worried about as your uterus and muscles begin to return to normal.
Muscles will atrophy and become weak if you do not use and move them. A strengthening program should be added to your exercise regime so you also work the rest of the muscles in your body. You will be lifting your new baby up and down in addition to the diaper bag, the formula bottles...you get the idea. The back muscles should also be worked on in order to prevent injury to your lower back. By getting active, even if it is just taking a walk pushing a stroller to get started, you will be helping your metabolism speed up so that it can help you reshape your body.
If your doctor clears you, you can begin exercising as soon as two weeks after giving birth. Don't be concerned with getting back into shape right away. Give yourself some time to heal and relax and get to know your baby. If you feel the need to do something, do some gentle pelvic exercises and modified crunches to help with the oblique muscles that cause 'love handles'.
Don't set unrealistic goals for yourself otherwise you feel that you need to meet them. It is best to take your time and ease yourself into a routine that will be right for you. It will take anywhere from nine to twelve months of constant exercise to see the results you want.
Some of the best postpartum exercises you can do to help get back in shape include: Yoga and Pilates; speed walking; cycling; swimming or aquatic aerobics; low impact aerobics; strength training with a professional trainer; and cycling. Always make sure you warm up and stretch properly.
You can add oblique exercises such as the pelvic exercises and crunches mentioned earlier to your warm up. Make sure you wear a good supportive bra and try to exercise after breast-feeding so that they are not heavy with milk and uncomfortable. Eat a sensible diet, drink plenty of water, and get as much sleep as possible. You will be amazed at the way you feel and the results you get. Your body will be back to prenatal shape before you know it.