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Your baby is getting cuter by the minute, and you're utterly in love with your new bundle of joy. Now that you have recovered from your labor and delivery, you're wondering why that abdominal fat is still there.

When can you expect that baby belly to go away, and what can you do to get in shape and be happy with your body? 

Your abdomen in the postpartum weeks

Most women who become mothers for the first time are ever so slightly disappointed to discover that they still look pregnant after they give birth. I remember it well right after my daughter was born, I was very excited about two things. They were enjoying a cup of coffee again, and putting my "real" clothes back on. The day after she was born, I was sad to say that there was no way I could fit into the pants I'd selected.

My abdomen, which had looked quite nice during pregnancy, had turned to pudding. I made sure my husband didn't see my jelly belly in the postpartum weeks! In the weeks after pregnancy, your hormonal cocktail will be undergoing a lot of changes, and you will be de-pregnant-izing. Your blood volume will return to normal, any fluid retention you experienced will ebb away, and your uterus will shrink back to its normal size. Your abdominal muscles have gradually stretched throughout your pregnancy the "six pack" separated, but the abs also stretched vertically. That's why your abs aren't just soft and pudding-like, but may also have a "bag" hanging down. Your abdomen may take a few weeks to feel normal again, that deflated balloon look will be gone after two to four weeks for most new mothers.

Will that baby belly go away by itself?

Some mothers will have the same weight they did before pregnancy within weeks, or even immediately after giving birth. Most will not be that lucky, and will find that they gave gained a little during pregnancy. Weight loss after pregnancy may come quite naturally, especially for active mothers who eat well and breastfeed their babies. Everyone who burns more calories than they consume will lose any undesired extra weight they may have been storing up. So far so good, but that's where things get tricky. Being at the same weight as before doesn't necessarily mean that you have a nice-looking abdomen. You can have a perfectly healthy BMI and still have love handles, a muffin top, or whatever pet name you've assigned to the abdominal weight you want to get rid of. Having the abs you want usually requires exercise as well as a healthy diet and simply time.

Why is abdominal fat so hard to get rid of?

Many factors contribute to abdominal fat hormones, genetics, and your lifestyle. Belly fat is notoriously hard to lose, for everyone. Postpartum women are in a slightly different situation than most other groups of people who as susceptible to belly flab, because their belly has been stretched from the inside out. It's very clear that moms should do more than aim to lose the fat, and that muscle training is essential too. Exercise, including exercise that specifically targets the abdomen (and there are many more ab exercises than you think!), burns calories. It does, therefore, contribute to weight loss. This doesn't mean it's not possible to have perfectly toned abdominal muscles and still have abdominal fat as well, though. Those who want to have an abdomen they are truly happy with will need to be patient and consistently work on their diet as well as their muscles.

Getting your abs back making a plan of action

When after giving birth are you ready to start working to get rid of that jelly belly? Postpartum mothers are wise to wait until their doctor gives them the green light to start exercising. If you had a cesarean section, it is especially important to refrain from abdominal exercises until your doctor confirms that you have medically recovered from the surgery. Both moms who had a vaginal birth and those who had a cesarean can usually start exercising around six weeks after having their baby. There is one exception: Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and those contribute to the overall condition of your abdomen as well. The more Kegels you do, the more toned your pelvic floor muscles will be. Once you are ready to start doing a more complete workout, you should make sure you target all the various abdominal muscles. Many people make the mistake of just doing one type of abdominal exercise, like sit-ups. Consulting a competent profession about a workout program that is just right for you as an individual is the best bet here. With the right action plan, wonderful abs are definitely within your reach!

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