New mom uses exercise bike as baby naps to help with post-baby bellyWhy do I still look like I’m pregnant?
How long will it take for my belly to go back to normal?
Does the mom pooch ever go away?
What can I do to make my belly get flatter?

Countless women have asked questions like these as they move through the weeks postpartum. Even after they deliver, most women still have a round, squishy midsection. Are you wondering how to get rid of your postpartum belly? We’re sharing a new mom weight-loss timeline along with tips for shedding the extra pounds quickly and safely.
The timeline to lose baby weight is different for every woman and depends on a few factors, including whether you’re breastfeeding, how much weight you gained during pregnancy, your diet, and how much exercise you get. It will take time for your body – especially your belly – to recover from pregnancy fully. Envision your abdomen like a balloon, slowly inflating as your baby grows. Giving birth will not pop the balloon; it just starts a slow leak. But try not to worry – it’s a steady one.
When your baby is born, your hormones will shift, causing your uterus to contract and shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. It will take around six to eight weeks for your uterus to return to normal size.
The extra pounds you put on to nourish your baby in utero will start burning off, especially if you’re nursing and/or exercising. But it’s going to take at least a few weeks for you to notice results.

How long will it take for my belly to go back to normal?

For most women, it takes months to get rid of the “mom pooch.” For some, it never goes away completely.
Try to be patient; it took nine months for your abdomen to stretch to provide space for a full-term baby. So, it makes sense that it will take at least that long to tighten back up.
How quickly this transition happens will depend mostly on how much weight you gained during pregnancy, your standard body size, how active you are, and your genes. Women who exercised regularly during pregnancy, gained less than 30 pounds, and breastfeed are more likely to slim down quickly.
If you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need to watch what you’re eating to lose pregnancy weight. This is because you need fewer calories now that you’re not pregnant.

What can I do to make my belly get flatter?

According to the ACOG, if you keep healthy eating habits, you’ll be close to your normal weight within a few months of giving birth. Another way to help you lose the baby weight is to fit in time for some exercise.
Having a healthy, balanced diet is also important. As long as you’re eating enough calories to ensure you get the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and weight loss/maintenance, and you include a little fitness each day, you’re good.
In the early months after childbirth, breastfeeding will help. If you breastfeed, your body will burn extra calories to make milk. As a result, you should lose pregnancy weight more quickly. Nursing also brings about contractions that help shrink the uterus.
Exercise also helps. Whether it’s a postpartum yoga class or a stroll around the block, physical activity will tone your stomach muscles and burn calories. An exercise regimen that includes cardio and ab workouts can work wonders. But before starting any exercise routine, make sure to check with your doctor. The general advice from physicians and midwives is to wait six to eight weeks before getting into a fitness routine.
At the end of the day, every woman is going to lose the baby weight at her own pace!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 29, 2017, and has since been updated.