With all the changes to your body during pregnancy — particularly your stomach — it's only natural to wonder when you might get some bodily autonomy back and feel like yourself again. While some women (read: celebrities) seem to experience an impossibly fast post-birth recovery time, others have to be a bit more patient and realistic. Weight shouldn't be a concern immediately after giving birth, but no one is going to fault you for asking, "When does your belly deflate after giving birth?" either, especially when you're sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and grasping for anything even remotely resembling normalcy. While there's no "one size fits all" answer, there are some things to keep in mind as your body heels from pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Dr. Michele Hakakha, M.D., board certified doctor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Fertility, tells Parents that due to all the stretching your belly's done to accommodate your baby's growth, as well as that of your expanded uterus, things will shrink almost right away to "the level of your belly button." While that may not seem like a total win, it's something, right? If you think about how long it takes to grow and stretch — which is 40 weeks, give or take — it will take just as long, if not longer, for your midsection to find its way back to normalcy, in both the initial weeks and month post-pregnancy and beyond. Every bit of your recovery time is process, just like parenting itself.
As far as a general timeframe, the stomach may take as long as 10 weeks to deflate. The Bump, however, says your uterus should go back to normal size — akin to the size of a plum —within a day or two, and that accounts for some pregnancy inflation. Your body still won't be exactly as it was, though, and that's something you should keep in mind as you adjust to life as a mom. Skin covering the stomach will take slightly more time, as it's lost its elasticity it once had during pregnancy. There are some who might gain full elasticity back over the course of months (and with proper nutrition and exercise, or genetics), and others who never do without surgical assistance.
If that news has you down, Fit Pregnancy cites that a new mom can lose up to 12 pounds in the 24 hours after delivery. Within a week, the uterus is still shrinking and you might still be ridding yourself of fluids from any IVs you were administered at the hospital, so it may go down even more. If you're breastfeeding, burning those extra calories aids in the deflation, too. There's a lot of ways your body is trying to get back to the way it was before you grew a human being inside it, you just have to give it time.
It might feel like forever until your pregnancy belly deflates down to your "normal" size again, but if you focus more on motherhood and self-care, it will happen. And regardless of how different the end result may be from the original version, you've given life and you're constantly using that very same body to sustain that life, raise that life, and make sure that life is happy, healthy, and safe. So above all else, be kind to the body that allows you to be a parent each and every day (among the many other things you are as a human being!)
Bodies are incredible, dear reader, including yours.