I had a baby about 8 years ago. After the baby, my stomach was quite dark, which was alarming as the rest of my body remained fair complexioned. I was pretty certain nothing would ever remove that color. Also, like Kate Middleton has shared with us, I had a slight bump as a leftover from the pregnancy.
Two weeks later, the bump and the dark color were gone. My stomach was flat (even flatter than it is now, 8 years on).
I am going to attribute this to genetics as well as the care I was given post pregnancy by my mother. In Igbo tradition, it is called omu gwo. She “bathed” me, cooked for me and helped care for my baby so as to give me some time to rest/recover and acclimatize myself to motherhood.
Again, this is one of the things that I think our ancestors did right. I am sharing my experience today in case there is anyone out there that may benefit from it.
During bath time, my mother would literally slap my stomach with a towel that had been dipped in almost scorching hot water. To say that it was a labor of love on her part is to grossly understate it. The water was always so hot that she would barely be able to hold the towel in her hand while she wringed some of it out before slapping and then rubbing my stomach down with it. Yet, she did this twice a day for over a week. I would then be made to sit on a sitz bath. We used only hot water but some people add beneficial herbs like Eucalyptus leaves.
My meals were typically yam pepper soup also known in Igbo as ji mmiri oku, or Ofe Nsala/White Soup soup with pounded yam. The soups were cooked with a blend of spices that would were specially chosen for new mothers. They are Uziza ,Ehuru and Uda (these are Igbo names, more information below). These are purported to help flush any lochia out. *This is very important as any lochia that remains in the body after a certain amount of time may cause puffiness in the face and legs.
I did not have much of an appetite (plus I am not a big fan of yam) so I would usually have the peppersoup ( mmmiri oku) or the Ofe Nsala and not the yam itself. On reflection, I suspect that this helped to keep my weight down.
The one part of the “treatment” that I did not follow was using a wrapper to tie my stomach down in order to flatten it. My mum asked me to do so but I would always take it off whenever she went to work as it gave me a back ache. If you choose to do this, please know that I have heard a lot of people claim that doing so left them with folds on their stomach as the wrapper never really stays 100% flat against the stomach and since the stomach is still soft and somewhat malleable after birth, it would follow the bumps and creases formed by the wrapper. This is of course anecdotal; I have no scientific evidence tying the wrapper leads to any folds in the stomach.
Do you have any local tips for post pregnancy care?
*Pg 125, Chapter II.16, You and Your Health by Elizabeth Kafaru
Uziza (use seeds and leaves) – piper guineense – West African Pepper
Ehuru (use seeds) – Monodora myristica – Calabash Nutmeg
Uda (use seeds) – xylopia aethiopica – African Negro Pepper (huh? right?)