Body After Baby: How Far Can Fitness Take You?

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Pregnancy completely changes a woman’s body. During pregnancy, women’s nutritional needs change, requiring more calories, vitamins, and minerals. Organs shift to accommodate the growing fetus. Skin stretches and ligaments loosen. Despite all these changes, though, it’s generally not until after pregnancy that women really come to reckon with the impact of pregnancy on their bodies, and for most that means working hard to get their pre-baby body back.

As part of this mission to lose the baby weight and get back into shape, most women diet and exercise and, more importantly, they get frustrated by their lack of progress. This raises the question: how much can the average woman achieve with diet and exercise, and when are additional interventions called for?

After Baby Exercise

One of the most common complaints that women have about their post-baby body is a sagging, pouched stomach. This often results from a condition known as diastasis recti, in which the abdominal muscles separate. In the immediately post-partum period, then, women often benefit most from gentle pelvic floor exercises, diaphragmatic breathing, and other functional activities. For those who had intense fitness routines before baby, this may not feel like a workout, but it’s what the body needs to recover.

Too Hard To Tone?

There are limits to what fitness can do for the post-baby body. This may be hard to believe since so many celebrities show up on magazine covers flaunting flat, toned stomachs and talking about their fitness routines, but it’s true. In reality, the reason these celebrities look so good is that they’ve undergone what’s known as a Mommy Makeover.

The Mommy Makeover is a multi-part plastic surgery meant to lift sagging breasts, tighten loose stomach skin, and even treat stretch marks and remove excess fat. It does what fitness can’t. As explained by Dr. Brian Heil, who practices plastic surgery in Pittsburgh, the procedure may also include a buttock lift, body contouring, and even vaginal rejuvenation, depending on the individual woman’s needs.

A Combined Effort

One thing that women need to understand about both diet and exercise and plastic surgery like the Mommy Makeover is that neither is sufficient on its own. Just as you still need to exercise after liposuction to maintain the results, plastic surgeons will advise you to lose as much weight as possible and to work hard on toning before having an procedures done. Most won’t do any procedures for at least six months after a woman gives birth (celebrities notwithstanding). Getting that pre-baby body back takes a concerted, combined effort between personal changes and surgical intervention.

Changes Take Time

Just as celebrity plastic surgery distorts how women view postpartum physical recovery, the majority are also misled by just how long it takes for the body to bounce back. The skin and muscles of the abdominal wall are still changing and healing six months after delivery. Breast shape will also continue to change long-term, especially in women who are breastfeeding. Unfortunately, when even the luckiest women only get about six weeks of maternity leave, it’s easy for women to think that they should be all healed up in that time frame – and it’s just not true.

Combining lifestyle changes with plastic surgery can help women get the physical results they want after having a baby, but it all demands a measure of patience. Changes take time and those early weeks and months with your baby are precious, so take a step back and give yourself and your body some time to recover and adjust to your new life.

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