When I was younger someone told me that after you have a baby, your belly never returns to it’s pre pregnancy size. Years later, after my second child was born I met a mom of three with six pack abs so I knew it just wasn’t true. Why do women feel as if they are stuck with large bellies after pregnancy?
The answer lies in the female hormones.
After my second birth, I began exercising and eating healthy. However, I didn’t see results until about 1.5 years postpartum. Also, when I began to see results, they came all of a sudden. It was as if overnight I went from having a belly and love handles to being trim and muscular.
What the heck happened to me?! Why was it like a switch went off?
Let’s take a step back, to pregnancy. During pregnancy your placenta produces a variety of hormones such as high levels of progesterone (about 250 mg a day), and some estrogen. (There are others but we will save those for another day)
You are like a walking femme hormone.
After delivery, progesterone levels TANK (to facilitate lactation) and honestly may not return to “normal” levels until you are ovulating again. Estrogen levels also decrease but not at the same rate as her sister hormone progesterone.
For some women this postpartum drop in progesterone levels may lead to Estrogen Dominance
Why should we care?
When the body is “unbalanced” it affects your sleep, energy, metabolism, motivation mood, and belly bloat
Some signs of Estrogen dominance are weight gain (especially in the lower body), fluid retention, depression, and anxiety
(Receptors are items in our cells, that respond to SPECIFIC hormones, neurotransmiters, antigens or other substances.)
Postpartum, The alpha adrenoceptors are working with the adrenal system to send a messages to the brain about bonding and attachment
This is an adaptive system because it helps mothers with nurturing their babies.
BUT BAD NEWS IF WE ARE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT!
Because as it turns out, alpha-adrenoceptors, SHUT OFF FAT BURN.
In sum, all the extra estrogen in the body is triggering new alpha-adrenoceptors which is in turn telling your brain to store fat! Yikes!
But do not fear there is another player in the game…
Beta-Adrenoceptors tell our bodies to burn that fat!
How do we unlock the Beta-Adrenoceptors? Some theorize progesterone may play a role. This is what we DO know…
The key is balance.
As your hormones balance over time the estrogen will level off and Alpha-adrenoceptor production should taper off. When coupled with diet and exercise, the Beta-Adrenoceptors will take over.
Your body has intuitive knowledge and it will balance itself out over time, so be patient with this process.
That being said, do you want to know the shortcuts I’ve used to make it go faster?
I give you my recipe for postpartum weight loss and balance…
7-8 hours a night, this is when you detox on a cellular level!
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, broccoli…)
helps in liver detoxification and breaking down estrogen in the body
Try fermented over raw and cooked if your breastfed baby seems to be getting gassy with these veggies
very important in any detox plus you’ll need it to replace the sweat from #4
Weight Training (after you’ve healed and been cleared to do so of course)
the heavier the better but listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself
Weight Training produces Human Growth Hormone. HGH and Estrogen can work together to burn fat!! (A post for another day perhaps?)
Remember how I said the Alpha-Adrenoceptors are related to the fight flight response? Well, if you are relaxed and you subconsciously tell your body that you don’t need to fight or fly, then your body wont be so concerned with equipping you with the receptors to do so.
Decrease, dairy, grain, and pesticides/herbicides GO CLEAN AND ORGANIC
These have substances in them that mimic estrogen
Above all, be patient with the process. This does not happen overnight and happens differently for every woman!
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you feel like you are more worked up than normal and have a higher body fat percentage than you are comfortable with, you are probably doing just fine! God designed our bodies for a reason. It is all part of the postpartum labyrinth and only you can walk it. Enjoy it, as the journey is your reward.