Why a mom pooch is not normal: Five steps to heal your abs after baby naturally
By: Monica Burrell
After you have a baby you will have a mom pooch. Your body will never be the same. These were things I heard during my pregnancy. And let’s be honest, I was not thrilled about either of these.
Surely I wouldn’t suffer from the “mom pooch.” I’ve always been an active person, and I maintained a healthy, active pregnancy. I was certain I would have no problem jumping back into my old workout routine after delivery.
But it wasn’t so easy. Recovering from delivery and taking care of a brand new baby was hard. I figured I just needed more time. Although I quickly returned to my pre-baby weight (yeah breastfeeding!) my stomach pooched out like I was still pregnant—textbook mom pooch!
But there was more to it than just the way I looked. Because of my weak core, I couldn’t work out the way I wanted to, and even getting out of bed was hard. I had trouble doing simple exercises like push ups—and any sort of crunch was totally out of the question. I just could not connect to my core the way I used to.
So I started looking online for answers. Was I destined to have a mom pooch with a weak core forever?
I soon found the answer. I was suffering from a common postpartum condition: “diastasis recti.” Diastasis recti is the term for abdominal separation that often occurs during pregnancy. It happens when the tissue that connects the abdominal muscles tears in half to accommodate a growing baby. Although very few women talk about it, over 60% of postpartum women experience diastasis recti!
Many women silently accept that diastasis recti and a weak midsection is their new normal after baby. They think having a mom pooch is a normal part of motherhood. Although it may be common, it is not normal because it demonstrates a weakness that can heal. The proper postpartum core strengthening program can strengthen your core and help you have flat healthy abs.
Now, almost a year later, I can say I am so glad that I took the time to commit to a program and heal my abs after baby. My goal was to get back into my favorite workout routines without damaging my core. Now, not only am I healed, but I honestly feel stronger than ever!
Although it is common to have diastasis recti after baby, it does not mean you will have weak abs and a mom pooch forever! Wherever you are on your postpartum journey—six days or six years—you CAN have strong, healthy abs after baby. If I can do it, I know you can, too!
Here are five things I learned from my diastasis recti journey:
Think of it as a sprained ankle—If LeBron James sprained his ankle, would doctors tell him he will limp for the rest of his life? Of course not! So why do moms feel like we will have a mummy tummy and stomach pooch for the rest of our lives? Just like a sprained ankle, there are exercises for a diastasis that make you stronger and promote healing. It is a slow process but you can rehab your diastasis recti just as you would a sprained ankle.
Find other moms—I felt like I was the only one in the world with diastasis! I didn’t know anyone who had healed their abs after baby, so I felt very isolated and hopeless. However, once I started my journey to heal, I started meeting moms with diastasis recti everywhere—at the park, school, work. Now I have a whole community of moms that support each other on their journey to get strong and healthy after baby.
Find a resource you trust and commit—There is a lot of information out there for moms after baby. All this conflicting information led me to feel paralyzed and kept me from taking action for several weeks. Our Abs After Baby program worked for me–but do your research and find a program that is right for you. Then commit to it.
You don’t need crunches for flat abs—Before I learned about diastasis recti, I thought the path to flat abs was through crunches. The more the better! However, I have since learned this is not the case! Crunching increases intra-abdominal pressure—stressing the tissue connecting your abdominal muscles. In fact, this stress can actually make abdominal separation WORSE! There are so many abdominal exercises that strengthen your deep abdominal muscles and promote a healthier core. In fact, I don’t even do crunches anymore!
Taking time for yourself is good for your family—I truly believe that bringing my healthiest, happiest self to my family is the best thing I can do. If that means taking time away from them to better myself, I consider it not only an investment in me, but an investment in a stronger, healthier family. I felt a lot of guilt about taking time away from my baby to work on healing my core. But looking back, I know I am stronger and more confident than every before—traits I want my son to develop in himself!
About the Author:
Monica Burrell is the mother of a joyful toddler, a registered nurse, and a passionate advocate for women to feel strong and confident in their postpartum bodies. She runs Abs After Baby, an online program for postpartum core health at abs-after-baby.com where she empowers women to heal their postpartum core.