Since having a baby, I spend half my TV-watching time berating the script writers for inaccurately portraying pregnancy, birth and new motherhood. Whether it’s the first time mum whose waters break and then pushes the baby out after an hour of labour, or that giant supposed newborn that comes out of her, clean, clear skinned, and smiling, media portrayed pregnancy and birth is a bit of a farce.
One of the worst myths they sell is the magical deflating tummy. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news ladies, but it’s a cruel lie! Here’s hoping you have become fondly attached to your belly, because it’s not going anywhere fast.
If you average11-16kgs of weight gain (the recommended amount for women who are not considered under or overweight using the BMI scale) over the course of your pregnancy (and hey, that’s on the optimistic side – I put on 20kgs), here’s a rough guide to what it’s made up of:
- Baby – 3-4kgs
- Placenta – 0.5kg
- Uterus – 1kg
- Extra blood circulating – 1.5kgs
- Extra breast tissue – 1kg
- Extra fluid in your body cells – 1.5kgs
- Maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients – 3kg
- Amniotic fluid – 1kg
A few hours after labour, the only components making up your weight gain that have actually left your body are your baby, placenta and the amniotic fluid. That’s only about 40% of your overall weight gain, assuming you haven’t put on more (in which case the overall % is even lower). Over the next 6 weeks or so, your uterus will decrease in size, your blood volume will decrease, and your body will slowly purge the extra fluids. Your breasts will remain larger than life (see our post on your bountiful bosoms) and the fat stores are the ones that may require some effort on your part.
For many (most?) mums, their tummy is never quite the same again. It’s not to say that it’s not achievable – you just have to work out whether it’s high enough up on the priority list to spend that extra time exercising and making sure your food is really healthy. For some people, it may be worth the time and energy. From the women we spoke to, most of them were resigned to having a tummy that bore the badge of childbearing. If it really bothers you, take a leaf out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s book and wear a tummy-sucking girdle for those first social outings!