One of the most difficult body changes for new mommies is the seemingly new tummy pooch or overhang after pregnancy. Many postpartum mamas spend time in front of the mirror examining their new stomach, wondering if it will ever return to a pre-pregnancy state.
There are many myths and wrong advice on the mommy pooch, that lead many postpartum mamas stuck feeling like they have to embark on a diastasis recti physical therapy plan to get their tummy back. This is a good idea for EVERY mama, but there is more to losing the pooch than just a few rehabilitation exercises (save the top 5 exercises for later!).
We want to explain some of the details on the mommy tummy, and hopefully help postpartum mommies understand what’s going on. This will allow you to create your own plan of attack, to flatten your tummy again.
The Mommy Tummy Explained: What causes the mommy pooch?
The pooch is a result of muscle separation + fat gain:
Muscle separation in the abdominal muscles is a normal process during pregnancy.
- The muscles need to separate in order to make room for the growing uterus. There is a thin, fabric-like fascia between the muscles that connects them, as well as stretches as they separate. The more stretching that happens, the less pull this fascia has to pull the muscles back together.
- As the muscles stretch and elongate for 9 months, they don’t always bounce back to their original strength and position. This is where exercises and belly bands can help support the muscles as they contract back into place.
- The fascia between the muscles doesn’t always pull back to the original elasticity and strength, leaving a looser gap between the abdominal wall.
- When the muscles have been separated multiple times, they can take longer to go back into place, and need more support.
- If left alone, in many mamas, the muscles stay in a looser position, thus creating a pooch appearance.
Extra fat during pregnancy stays on top of the abdominal muscles.
- Weight gain during pregnancy has a large effect on the aftermath of your tummy. The more weight you gain, the more fat you will have to lose on top of your stomach muscles.
- Holding extra fat encourages the muscles to pull out too, because the fat is extra weight that pulls the muscles in the wrong direction for healing.
- Pregnancy can cause more fat on the abdominal wall than realized because everything in that area stretches so tight. Often times many new moms don’t realize that most of the remaining pooch is extra fat that still needs to be lost.
- Losing extra weight gained during pregnancy is ESSENTIAL to being able to see your abs and completely flatten your mommy tummy. Make sure to try a sample pack of our protein powder and join our free, 10-day diet plan to help you get started on the weight loss while breastfeeding!
Lack of physical activity – sitting in slouching position only makes it worse:
- New mommies often find themselves sitting quite a lot while breastfeeding. While sitting, posture can negatively affect how the muscles stay positioned.
- Slouching causes the muscles to pooch out even more, and many mamas spend a lot of time sitting in the beginning because they are healing, holding the baby, rocking the baby and nursing the baby. This can make the pooch worse.
Sugar cravings often lead to excess carbs stored as fat on the belly.
- Many mamas find that they LOVE sugar and carbs while breastfeeding. This is something we’ve worked really hard to help new mommies with. Our protein powder is specifically formulated to help stop sugar cravings.
- Extra carbs and sugar tend to be stored in the belly area, leading to an extra layer of fat that makes the pooch look even larger.
- Sticking to a high-protein diet can really help you burn the belly fat while breastfeeding.
- Try the amazing, high-protein low sugar Milk Dust Bars
- Get our lactation smoothie recipe book for some amazing, fat-burning recipes!
The mommy pooch can be depressing and overwhelming as a new mommy, but there are some super simple habits you can change to eliminate the pooch all together! We have a few posts that will really help you get started:
The Mommy Tummy Explained: What causes the overhang?
The overhang is a result of excess skin and possible scar tissue from a cesarean:
Excess skin after pregnancy comes from a very large belly.
- If your baby was very large and/or you gained an excess amount of weight, your skin had to stretch farther. This can result in the skin not being able to regain elasticity and hanging over.
- Managing weight gain during pregnancy is the KEY to keeping this from happening.
- Using moisturizers and oils can help the skin stretch easier during pregnancy, so it can recover postpartum.
Excess skin can also be a result of a cesarean birth and scar tissue.
- Healing postpartum after a cesarean takes extra time and care. Mobilizing the scar tissue at the site of the scar can help soften the tissue and lessen the overhang.
- The incision and trauma to the area from surgery can inhibit the healing process for the skin, so it remains lose.
You can reduce the overhang by reducing overall fat.
- By losing the extra fat gained during pregnancy, you can make HUGE strides in reducing the overhang. Many times, new mamas don’t realize how much of the overhang is extra fat, not skin.
- You can’t spot-reduce fat, but you can lose fat by walking more, eating whole foods, and focusing on protein and fiber to fill your diet (lean protein, veggies and fruit).
What are the best ways to fix the mommy pooch? Here’s 4 Simple Steps
There are three main steps to fixing the mommy pooch, and if you can make these simple changes, you will be surprised at how quickly your pooch will start to flatten!
Burn Fat Through Diet:
You won’t be able to see your mommy pooch reduce unless your fat percentage decreases. Most postpartum mamas don’t have much time for working out, or are still healing from birth, so using your nutrition is the best way to burn fat. We have our free, 10-day plan you can follow to get started, and some great posts to help you! If you are concerned out milk supply, make sure to at least grab a sample pack of our powder, or our Starter Pack to help you jump start your diet and weight loss – without any affect on your milk supply!
Stay active all day (get your steps in):
A newborn can really make it difficult to stay active, which is why we encourage mamas to get around 10k steps in a day. Staying active all day, rather than one workout and sitting the rest of the day, is really beneficial to keeping your metabolism moving. Also, by staying active, you will be sitting for shorter periods of time, which will be helpful in training your muscles to pull back in, rather than pooch out!
Fix your posture (use a belly band to help!):
Going along with moving more through the day, also grab a belly band to help you remember to stand taller. Belly bands don’t really push your abs back in, but they do encourage better posture and support your abs. Posture is one of the easiest ways to help your core come back, so remember to stand taller, roll your shoulders back and pull your belly button in.
Do 5 diastasis recti exercises every day:
By committing to just 5 exercises for your core and pelvic floor every day, you can regain strength and control over your tummy. By building back strength, you are also helping the muscles to stay contracted rather than loose and long. The exercises are meant to rebuild the mind-muscle connection, so you can practice holding your abs tight in various positions. By enforcing daily practice, the abdominal engagement becomes a natural position, rather than something you have to force yourself to remember.
Healing the mommy tummy takes time and attention. Think of the muscles as going through trauma for 9 months. They need gentle exercises, time and care in order to recover from the event of pregnancy.
The more you exercise and challenge your muscles to return to normal strength, the stronger they will become. The better you take care of yourself in terms of diet and activity, the better you will feel inside and out.