Post popping out a baby a number of things happen to your body: Your boobs turn droopier, stretch marks crisscross your middle, and your vagina, well, let’s not even go there. (Hint: Expect pigment changes.) Nonetheless, of all the troubles brought on by a bun in the oven, the one which is most annoying is post-pregnancy belly flab.

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So, can squishiness be fixed, or flat abs be regarded a thing of bygone days? When asked super glam Reese Witherspoon replied in a recent interview with the blog Cricket’s Circle that her abs were “nonexistent” after she gave birth to her three kids. So we sought help of an expert to find out if it’s in fact attainable for every woman to regain the shape of her core muscles after giving birth to a baby.

The truth: While much depends on genes and your before-baby fitness level, you have to agree that some pooch is indefinite. “A small number of women will be able to get a flat stomach again, but for the majority, it may take a lot of time or not happen at all,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., certified strength and conditioning coach and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It took nine months for your belly to stretch out to accommodate your baby, so it’s reasonable to expect it to take at least as long to lose the belly fat.”

And this is presuming that you were able to gain the recommended 25 to 30 pounds of pregnancy weight. If you put on more than that then the fat may end up being stored as visceral fat, which is too difficult to get rid of. Another thing you should note is that an after-baby belly jiggle may not have anything to do with your abs. The bulge perhaps is the outcome of stretched out skin that’s lost its elasticity, and even if you do a million crunches you can’t firm it up again, says Rumsey.

If you’ve just given birth to a baby and trying to deal with a wobbly middle or an aspiring mom freaked out by the news, don’t feel disheartened. Reframe it like this: It’s in fact freeing to know that it’s implausible you’ll look like Fit Mom (or Reese Witherspoon, for that matter) after delivering a kid. Good for them for being so committed to keeping in shape. Anyways, if rock-hard abs are not in the cards for your body, why sweat it? Instead, keep focusing on being healthy and attaining a high fitness level by easing back into your pre-baby fitness routine on your own schedule.