Postpartum Skin Rehab: Tightening Your Belly Skin

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It’s summer and I know you’ve been staring at your belly wondering how you’re going to dress it. Your body goes through a lot while pregnant. From circulatory changes, digestive changes, and even feet changes. But the change that is the hardest often to get used to and recover from is the most obvious one – you expand. Some women expand a little bit everywhere, other women expand a lot in one place, and yet other women expand a lot everywhere (even despite their best efforts). I think I’m the first kind of woman, I expand a little bit everywhere – enough to make a difference of course but not so much that I didn’t resemble myself. I think for the most part I was a cute preggo with Rigel. I put on fat in my arms, in my legs, and around my belly. This post is going to focus primarily on having the best belly recovery possible so that maybe with time summer becomes a little less daunting. When I say belly recovery, I don’t mean a belly that looks exactly like it did pre-pregnancy but I mean a belly that’s as close to healthy and taut as possible given the miraculous thing that belly did. If you’re currently postpartum please remember that some of this is going to be pre-determined by genetics but even with less helpful genetics there is still room for improvement if you use some of my tips.

Woman Showing Stomach
This is the picture that delayed this post. I took it and thought no one would take me seriously but it’s what I’ve been working with.
Woman Showing Side
I’ve lost a couple of pounds since I took this picture a month ago.
Woman Showing Back
And there’s that strong back that carries Rigel everywhere.

Tip #1 Moisturize!

There’s no better way to show your skin you love it than keeping it properly hydrated. This is something that should have been a focus during pregnancy but remains equally important in the postpartum period. Now I get it, a postpartum belly can feel weird to the touch. It can be even weirder if you’ve had an abdominal birth and your abdomen is still healing from your c-section. For me it was a good six weeks before my belly even acknowledged that it remained part of my body. Even with all that new weirdness, don’t skip on the moisturizer. It’ll help your skin heal stretch marks and will keep some of the potential shriveling at bay as your belly shrinks back down following birth. Choose a moisturizer you feel makes your skin feel the supplest. This will vary from person to person. For me that is either a Shea Butter based lotion like St. Ives Nourish & Soothe Oatmeal and Shea Butter Lotion or my splurge lotion of Ahava Botanic Body Lotion Hibiscus and Fig.

St Ives Lotion
St. Ives Soothing Body Lotion Oatmeal and Shea Butter

Tip #2 Microneedle (Dermarolling)

Now this tip might sound drastic but hear me out. If your skin sagging or crepiness is mild you can do dermarolling (microneedling) at home with an at-home kit. I discovered how to do this after watching Bubzbeauty’s Youtube video on the subject. I was pretty fortunate that my skin crepiness has been pretty mild after having Rigel but pretty much all Moms will notice some amount of skin “looseness” following stretching to accommodate baby in their bellies. Because I still have hopes of wearing low-rise bikinis, shorts, and jeans for years to come, I got myself a set of dermarollers and have gotten to work. Dermarolling or its more aggressive sister microneedling creates micro-injuries in the surface of the skin. In an effort to repair the damage your body will produce collagen. The micro-injuries will also allow space for healing products to enter your skin, to help with such things as elasticity, texture, and stretch marks. I purchased the Lolysenta Derma Roller Kit for Face and Body (Amazon, $17). It comes with a .25mm roller for your face and a .3mm roller for your body. I would recommend not going above .5mm for at-home treatment. If you feel like you may need more than that to achieve results, consider going to a medical spa or dermatologist for treatment.

Stretch marks on hips
Stretch marks on my hips.
Stretch marks on my hips and my tattoo.
Close-up of my belly.

I Dermaroll about once a week (because Mom life). I do it after I get out of the shower to ensure that the area I plan to derma roll is clean. I sanitize my derma roll before use by heavily spraying it with alcohol (I put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle). I will then roll from side to side, up and down, and then diagonally over the area I wish to treat – in my case my abdomen, upper hips, and the underside of my arms. It takes less than 3 minutes to pass the roller over all areas. I then rinse the dermaroller under running water, ring it out, and then heavily spray it with alcohol again. I place it in it’s case and leave it on the counter to air dry before putting it back in the drawer. At that point, I choose my lotion or serum. Something designed to be firming. Currently I’m very into Brazilian Bum Bum Cream not only does it smell great but it’s fantastic for smoothing out skin and plumping up those divots. It is a bit of a splurge so when I need to be budget-conscious I usually turn to Nivea’s Skin Firming Hydration Lotion. I’ve also been known to put my Versed On the Rise Firming Serum but it can take a lot of squirts to cover this belly so for the most part I stick to lotions.

Dermarolling over my belly.

Tip #3 Chemical Stimulation

If needles, regardless of size aren’t your jam then you may want to consider chemical stimulation to get those skin cells churning out that tightening collagen. I discovered this product back in my mid-20s, when even though I was very lean I found myself still struggling a little with the look of the back of my legs. The Clarins Body Fit Anti-Cellulite Body Contouring Expert is a gel-like lotion that’s filled with caffeine and other magic to stimulate your skin to constrict and tighten up. I would use it a couple of times a week. Now that I have a loose belly (that’s had a lot back and forth over the last 23 months) I use it about once a week. Some people claim that the real workhorse is Clarins Extra Firming Body Lotion. I haven’t tried it myself yet but I’m looking forward to giving it a try in the future (once the budget permits). Who What Wear also has a great blog post with a list of the best body firming lotions out there – in case you need to try a couple before you find one that works for you.

Clarins Body Fit
Been using this over 10 years and it’s still a goody.

Tip #4 Don’t Skip on Your Sips

I know, you’ve heard it 1400 times and you and your still fragile bladder are sick of it but it works. Drink more water. Not only will it help with milk supply if you’re breastfeeding but it’s also going to help keep your skin soft and supple. I mean if you don’t want to look like a raisin stop desiccating yourself! Get yourself a big jug and drink some water! I personally love my Simple Modern 24oz tumbler which is about as baby-proof (and toddler-proof) as I’ve found. The only thing that would make it better would be if they added a stopper to their straws…maybe I should reach out with that idea. Anyway, it helps me keep sipping away.

My 24oz Simple Modern Tumbler.

Tip #5 Gratitude for the Wonderful Thing Your Belly Did

Nothing is more healing than gratitude for what our bodies can do. When you stop looking at it as ruined and as start looking at it as a blessing that your abdomen was able to hold life, the real healing begins. It’s become pretty conclusive that negative thoughts can impact your physical body, including damaging your immune system and making recovery from injury take longer than it otherwise would. So I know it’s hard but try to look on the brightside when you look at your tiger stripes. You made a whole person that doesn’t even care that you have them.

Embracing what I got and looking forward to the future.

So care for your skin, love what it was able to do for you, and wear the swimsuit you wanna wear, without regard to what other people may think. What they think says more about them than it does about you. And if you start treating your skin with my tips let me know in the comments how it goes. Now that I’m back on my weight loss journey I’ll post my own belly update once I get to my goal weight.

Remember you are beautiful,

Author: Grace G.

New Mom and Retired Lawyer trying to share the ride.

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