Your body goes through some incredible changes during pregnancy as it adapts to make room for your baby, protect and nurture it over your three trimesters, and finally, deliver it. Your skin is no exception.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so naturally it will be affected quite a bit during pregnancy. Varicose veins, stretch marks, acne, that second trimester ‘glow’ – these are all things you may experience. But one things that you definitely will have to face after pregnancy is loose skin. You may notice this on your belly, hips, arms and it may be a little or a lot – it’s different for everyone.
When we say loose skin, we’re not talking about extra body fat, but rather the extra skin that is the result of your body expanding during pregnancy.
As you return to your normal weight after giving birth, your skin may not automatically return to its original elasticity. This can be frustrating for new mums, especially if you’ve been working hard to lose weight you gained during pregnancy. But remember to go easy on yourself – your body just did something incredible! Here are a few ways you can help manage loose skin after pregnancy.
Do What You Can To Manage Stretched Skin While You’re Pregnant
Making an effort to prevent stretch marks while you’re pregnant can have a huge impact on how well your skin rejuvenates after you have given birth. Stretch marks are the result of the middle layer of skin (dermis) expanding faster than the layer above (epidermis). This reduces flexibility, preventing the formation of collagen and elastin fibres that keep skin tight. You can read about how to help prevent stretch marks here.
Take Care To Lose Weight Slowly
This might be counter intuitive, but taking care to not lose weight too quickly after having your baby is important for reducing loose skin. This means losing weight the healthy, sustainable way: eating well and exercising regularly. If you drop in weight too quickly, this may mean losing both fat and muscle, but muscle is important for keeping your body toned and your skin tight. Getting into shape gradually allows your skin the time to regain its elasticity – if this process happens too fast, you may just be left with more loose skin.
When it comes to keeping your skin firm and elastic, water is key. Staying well hydrated is very importanting for helping reduce loose skin, so be sure to drink at least two litres every day – and even more when you exercise.
You can also hydrate your skin more directly by using lotions and moisturisers. They can help keep the outer layers of the skin hydrated. Keep an eye out for those that contain collagen, as well as vitamins E, A, C, and K.
Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
Losing weight in a healthy, sustainable way means eating well. There’s a good chance you’ve already developed some great eating habits while you were pregnant, and while it may be tempting to slip back into old routines after having your baby, try your best to keep it up! This means eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Protein is particularly important post-pregnancy as it will help your body recover after exercise, and help your muscles to become more toned and defined. As a result your skin will look tighter.
There are some vitamins and minerals that are important for skin health. Vitamin C and E help by reducing the impact free radicals have on collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure. Vitamin C is also essential for collagen production which is what gives your skin its firmness. And vitamin A helps draw water to the surface of the skin, keeping it soft and supple. Fruits and veggies are the best sources of these nutrients!
Exercise Regularly – And Smartly
Obviously, exercising regularly is essential to losing weight. Make sure you check with your doctor before engaging in any kind of exercise postpartum. But if your doctor gives you a go-ahead, these are a few things you can do to help tone up your skin:
• Ab training
Identify the areas where you would like to eliminate loose skin and research the best exercises to tone up that area. Consider training with a PT if you feel like you need a little extra help. However, be careful not to overtrain as this can elevate cortisol levels, which can break down lean muscle.
If you have any questions or concerns about the postpartum period or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.