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Loose skin is a common complaint among women post-pregnancy.
This problem is difficult to avoid completely, but you can take a few precautionary measures to help prevent some of the sagging skin after pregnancy.
You can also employ a few techniques to decrease sagging skin after the baby is born, though it does take time for stretched skin to return to its original size.
However, keep in mind that sagging skin after pregnancy has a lot to do with genetics, so if your mother and other female relatives did not have a problem with sagging skin, then you probably won’t either.
Building Up Healthy Skin While Pregnant
Eat or take a supplement of essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish, nuts, and oils, can make your skin healthier overall.
They can also increase the elasticity of your skin.
Because you want your skin to bounce back after pregnancy, elasticity is essential.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as sardines, herrings, and salmon.
You can also eat walnuts and canola oil to help get fatty acids in your diet, as well as flaxseed.
Skip fish that may have a high mercury content, such as swordfish or king mackerel.
You can also try flaxseed oil supplements.
Take up 2.2 grams a day in pill form.
Bulk up on vitamin C.
Vitamin C is essential for producing collagen in your skin.
It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your skin against free radicals.
Collagen is one of the main building blocks of your skin, a protein that provides structure, so you need collagen to help tighten skin after pregnancy.
Some fruits to try with high levels of vitamin C include strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, and citrus.
For vegetables, eat leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes (white or sweet), or tomatoes, to name a few.
The daily requirement for vitamin C is 120mg for postpartum moms and taking more than this amount has not been proven to have any benefit.
Try soy protein.
Soy concentrate has been shown to have an effect on skin elasticity and collagen fiber.
A supplement of 100 milligrams a day of isoflavone genistein is sufficient, but you can also try adding more soy protein to your diet through tofu and edamame.
Eat foods rich in niacinamide.
This vitamin is in the same family as niacin or vitamin B-3.
Though more research needs to be done, this vitamin likely improves skin elasticity over time.
If you’re looking to add niacinamide to your diet, try lean proteins, nuts, beans, and grains.
If you prefer, you can try using a cream that contains this vitamin, applying it topically to your abdomen.
Some anti-wrinkle creams have this vitamin.
Try a cream with peptides in it.
Peptides have been shown to increase collagen production.
As noted, collagen is essential for elastic skin that bounces back after stretching, retaining its structure.
Try applying an anti-wrinkle daily to your abdomen area while you’re pregnant.
Exercise while you're pregnant.
One of the major causes of sagging skin after pregnancy is excess weight gain.
Of course, your skin is going to stretch some no matter what you do–you’re growing a baby inside!
However, if you can limit the amount of extra weight you put on, you can also limit how much your skin stretches.
Try moderate exercise 5 to 7 days a week. You can exercise for about 30 minutes at a time.
Try less-strenuous exercises such as swimming or low-impact aerobics. You can also cycle or walk.
Don’t push too hard. Drink enough water while exercising, and take the time to warm up and cool down.
Get enough protein.
Many important elements of your skin are made up of proteins, from collagen to elastin.
These proteins provide structure and keep your skin elastic.
Therefore, make sure you are eating enough protein while pregnant.
If you’re 25, about 5 feet (2 m) and 4 inches tall, and weighed 110 pounds before you were pregnant, you need 5.5 ounces of protein in your first trimester, 6.5 in your second, and 6.5 in your third.
If you are about 140 pounds, you need 6 ounces in your first trimester, 6.5 in your second, and 6.5 in your third.
If you’re 25, about 5 feet (2 m) and 9 inches tall, and weighed 128 before you were pregnant, you need 6 ounces in your first trimester, 6.5 in your second, and 6.5 in your third, while if you weighed about 162, you need 6.5 in your first, 7 in your second, and 7 in your third.
Eat a healthy diet.
Of course, you want to eat healthy to support your growing baby.
However, eating healthy can also reduce the weight you put on while pregnant, which reduces how much your skin stretches.
Eat whole grains and low-fat dairy.
Try yogurt with oatmeal for breakfast, topped with fruit.
Eat brown rice as a side.
Try whole-grain bread topped with low-fat cream cheese.
Additionally, make vegetables and fruit a steady part of your diet, filling up half your plate with them at meals.
Eat a bowl of berries with breakfast.
Add a side salad to lunch.
Incorporate vegetables into your casseroles by adding a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach or kale.
Eat soups rich in vegetables.
Reducing Sagging Skin After Birth
In the past, you might have been told you had to wait a month and a half to exercise.
However, these days, most doctors will give you the go ahead as soon as you feel comfortable after a vaginal delivery, as long as you pregnancy wasn’t complicated.
However, you’ll need to wait longer if you had a complicated pregnancy or you had a C-section.
Exercise can reduce your weight overall, which helps reduce your belly flab.
It also can increase the strength of your abdominal muscles, which support the skin around your stomach.
Also, some of the sagging skin could actually be sagging muscle.
For an exercise that specifically targets your abdominal muscles, try a pelvic tilt.
Lie down on the floor with your back to the floor.
Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your back off the floor slightly.
Hold it for about 10 seconds and repeat.
Keep up with your vitamin A regimen.
Continue to eat foods high in vitamin A.
In addition, try adding a vitamin A cream to regimen, known as a retinol cream.
You could also try a vitamin C cream.
Rub the cream on at night, leaving it on while you sleep.
These creams can help firm up your skin, reducing sagging.
Keep in mind that retinol creams can be quite expensive, and using them over a large area of your body will add up.
Some women have good luck with massaging their abdominal area.
Pick a good lotion, one that contains vitamins A, K, C, and E, and preferably one that has collagen. Rub it into the skin, gently massaging it in using a circular motion.
Try applying regular lotions twice a day, in addition to your nightly creams.
Drink your water.
Skin has water in it, just like the rest of your body.
In fact, it is about a third water. If you’re not hydrated enough, your skin will suffer.
Drier skin results in less elasticity, which means more sag.
As a woman, you should be drinking about 9 cups of water a day.
Try adding fruit to your water to help encourage you to drink it.
Also, drinks such as teas, coffees, and juices count towards your overall water consumption, though you should limit yourself to decaf if you’re still breastfeeding.
In addition, because juices are high in sugar, you should drink those in moderation.
Also consider fruits and vegetables that are high in water, such as watermelon and cucumber.
Continue on your healthy diet.
Consuming health proteins will continue to help your skin.
In addition, getting a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy will help you ensure you are getting the right nutrients for a healthy body and healthy skin.
Lose the pregnancy weight.
Losing the weight that you gained during your pregnancy can help to prevent sagging skin as well.
Exercise and follow a healthy reduced calorie diet to take off the pounds that you gained.
Keep in mind that if you are breastfeeding, then you may not be able to lose all of the pregnancy weight right away.
Consider other options.
Sometimes, the only way to get rid of sagging skin is through a cosmetic surgeon.
That doesn’t mean that you must have surgery.
You have other options available to you, such as laser treatments and infrared treatments.
These treatments encourage the increase of collagen in your skin, helping to tighten it up.