Back at you with another article, this time talking about one of the most frequently asked questions by new mums; and that is “How do I get rid of the mummy tummy!”
Rest assured, you aren’t the only one trying to figure out a way to get rid of the ‘pooch’ that seems to have taken up residence where your once flat belly used to be. Contrary to what most new mums think, this may not necessarily be ‘baby weight’ but how do you know for sure?
With proper nutrition and nursing, most new mums tend to regain their pre-baby bodies within about six months to a year with proper diet and exercise However, if several months post-partum (even with proper diet and exercise) you still look four months pregnant then there could be another explanation.
This is just a fancy word for the widening of the connective tissue that holds your abdominal muscle together. It occurs due to the extreme stretching that happens during pregnancy where the muscles that used to hold your inner organs in place now sag thus allowing your inner organs to push through and behold- the mummy pooch!
Here is a little diagram to help you visualize this
If what I have described above sounds familiar, then your first step should be to check for abdominal separation- make sure what you have is actually Diastasis recti. Once you have been given the green flag by your physician to start working out, the most important thing to do is start strengthening the muscles of your midsection. Why? If you neglect this it could potentially stop you from healing properly and allowing you abdominals to regain their former strength and shape.
In many cases, some women are left with the ‘pooch’ under their belly buttons because this abdominal separation was not addressed.
So, how do we test for it? The procedure is quite simple and I have provided a link to a video that takes you through how to perform the test. Alternatively, you can also consult your physician.
Healing Diastasis recti Do’s and Don’ts
Exercises to avoid
Any sort of traditional crunch, plank or sit up should be avoided while you try to heal your Diastasis recti. Avoid any exercises that require you to lift one or both feet off the floor. These exercises put far too much pressure on your abdominals and can further complicate the issue.
Exercises for Diastasis recti
Instead of the above mentioned exercises, we want to focus on exercises that pull the muscles closer together. The best part is that most of these exercises can be done anywhere. Here are a few examples
- An exercise that is great for engaging your core is focusing on pulling your belly button in as far into your tummy as you can and squeeze. Do 10 mini squeezes at a time. This can be done standing or seated. Make sure your nice and up right (no slouching!)
- Mini head lift: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your lower back is also in contact with the floor. Now inhale, expand your belly then exhale to squeeze your abs inward. Holding this position, tuck your head in and lift only your head off the floor. Count 2 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times
- Upright push up: Stand up-right and at arms-length from a wall. With palms against the wall inhale to expand your belly then exhale and pull your belly button towards your spine and squeeze. Slowly bring your chest towards the wall bending your elbows and keeping them close to your sides. As you push back to the starting position, squeeze your abs even tighter into your spine. Repeat as many times as you can.
If repeated for a period of 12 weeks or more, these movements can help heal your abdominal muscles and allow them to regain their original shape and strength. Perform the tummy test (video) periodically to assess your progress.
Good luck and happy healing,
Steph Liu is currently a Fitness Instructor at Hi Octane and conducts a super spin class amongst the other classes she takes. Any questions, comments or just general chitchat you are most welcome to contact her via her Facebook page- just follow the link below!