Your Changing Body
The post-baby belly flap
What Causes It?
The skin stretches with your expanding belly but may not shrink back to its prepregnancy state, explains OB-GYN Sean Daneshmand, M.D., a maternal-fetal specialist at San Diego Perinatal Center. Excessive weight gain can make it worse, as can a twin-or-more pregnancy; previous pregnancies and sun damage can contribute as well.
But perhaps the largest factor is heredity. “Some women’s genetics give them better collagen and elastin formation, which helps skin shrink back to its normal shape,” adds Daneshmand, who is medical director of Ageless and Beautiful Spa and Cosmetic Surgery in San Diego.
What Doesn’t Cause It?
Cesarean sections don’t cause saggy skin and may actually help minimize your midsection if the surgeon completely stitches the abdominal muscles back together (not all do). “This tucks the abdomen more, like you’re wearing a girdle,” Daneshmand explains.
What You Can Do
Apart from getting different ancestors, here are some options:
1. Work your abs: Toning the abdominal muscles will help you look less “flappy.”
2. Slather it on: Topical products such as olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter oil and Retin-A may help stimulate collagen formation. (Retin-A shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.)
3. Get hot: A cosmetic procedure called Thermage uses radio frequency heat to stimulate collagen production.
4. Suck it up: Laser or ultrasound-assisted liposuction removes fat and provides some skin tightening.
5. Get snipped: “A tummy tuck is the most invasive and expensive option, but it’s also the most effective one,” Daneshmand says. “So I’d consider it if other treatments don’t work.”
For simple yet effective ab exercises, visit fitpregnancy.com/abs.