“Mommy Tummy” explained: What causes the “Post-pregnancy Pooch”?

mommytummy1

Focus on: the Mommy Tummy
Healing diastasis recti (DR), the separation of the abdominal muscles which often occurs after pregnancy


Carrying a child changes a woman’s body in many ways. Even the most physically fit and dietarily-conscious new moms can be left with a still-bulging tummy after losing their pregnancy weight.

But mamas, take note, this so-called “mommy pooch” or “mummy tummy” is not just a cosmetic issue. Diastasis recti (DR), the separation of the abdominal muscles that causes this unwanted protrusion often occurs after pregnancy, and can lead to uncomfortable conditions like incontinence and lower back pain caused by loss of core strength. The good news is, there’s a lot we can do to heal it.

DRmuscles1

First things first…

Do I Have DR? A Simple Test You Can Conduct Yourself.
It’s wise to consult your healthcare provider about your postpartum health. They can identify if you have DR. You can also self-assess by following the steps below. It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks after giving birth before trying this test, and please do NOT begin ANY exercise regimens without first consulting with your doctor.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  2. Put your fingers right above your belly button and press down gently.
  3. With your abs relaxed, lift up your head about an inch while keeping your shoulders on the ground.
  4. If you have diastasis recti, you will feel a gap between the muscles that is wider than an inch. See picture above. The average separation ranges from about 3-4 fingers wide.

It may be tempting to try traditional ab workouts to combat the mommy tummy, but it’s important to note that exercises like crunches and sit-ups can actually do more harm than good if you have diastasis recti.

If you would like to begin the healing process, here are a few ideas to consider as a starting point.

Breathing Exercise to Heal DR:
Founder of LOVE COMMA, Emily, writes here about her experience with a simple breathing exercise to reduce DR:

Physical Exercise to Heal DR:
To help shed some light on what physical exercises you CAN safely do to start healing diastasis recti, we turn to our friend and fellow #lovecommama Amy Griffith, founder of of Exercising Balance, yoga and healthy living tailored for pre- and post- natal moms. Check out her guest post on the LC Blog here: 

More Resources:
http://activemomsclub.com/fitness-tips/3-steps-to-flatten-post-pregnancy-abs/
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/07/541204499/flattening-the-mummy-tummy-with-1-exercise-10-minutes-a-day