“Why can’t I get rid of this belly?”
Hi Is This Normal,
I have been working out like a maniac since I had my baby 7 months ago and my pooch is not going away. I swear, I still look like I’m pregnant, and it’s so disheartening to think this could be my forever. Is my stomach ever going to come down? Am I doing something wrong here? I see all these moms on insta that have had their baby in the last like, 8 weeks, and look better than me.
Is there any hope for me? HELP!
Dear Mom Bod,
I have so many feelings about this! Especially the comparing our bodies to other bodies thing. It’s such an awful trap we fall into, and we’re all a victim of the trap at one time or another. I left the hospital after delivering my youngest in the same clothes I wore TO the hospital when I was still pregnant, and they fit … exactly the same. Meanwhile other women were walking out in their pre-pregnancy skinnies (how do you even hide those glorious mesh mama panties in those pants?!).
Just as no two pregnancies or babies are the same, no two postpartum bodies are the same. But some postpartum bodies need a little extra help, and not because you’re not trying hard enough. Pregnancy does a real number on our bodies, and can actually do some internal damage that we can’t see and might not even know is there. Leah Keller is a certified personal trainer, and creator of the EMbody Program™ by Every Mother (formerly known as The Dia Method). Leah is here to help explain what the muscles in your tummy went through when you were carrying your babe, and also give us all some tips on how to repair those muscles and (hopefully!) say goodbye to that pooch.
Take heart! Many, many mothers can relate to your experience, and it is most likely due to a medical condition that affects a majority of women postnatally: diastasis recti, or abdominal separation. During pregnancy, the growing uterus exerts pressure on the abdominal wall, bulging it forward. This pressure often causes the abdominal muscles to separate along the midline of the body. Diastasis recti is not a tear, but a sideways stretch of the connective tissue that runs up and down the center of the abdomen. After the baby is born, this tissue does not always return to normal, leaving women with deflated, over-stretched abdominal muscles. In addition to the cosmetic frustration you’ve expressed, diastasis recti also increases the likelihood of back pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.
So why aren’t your workouts improving the condition? Sadly, most of the exercises we turn to in an effort to strengthen the abs: crunches, sit-ups, bicycle crunches and more… will actually make abdominal separation worse! Any exercise that forcefully bulges the abs forward mimics the mechanical stress of a pregnancy. Even planks can be counterproductive, depending on how they are performed. Is surgery the only answer?! Absolutely not. It is possible to close the separation without surgery and restore core strength and function through exercise. In fact, Weill Cornell Medical School conducted a study of 63 women following my exercise program and found that 100% of subjects fully resolved diastasis recti within an average of 12 weeks. What’s the secret sauce? A revolutionary approach to core training that efficiently and effectively recruits the deepest core muscles: the transverse abdominis (your natural corset) and pelvic floor, along with proper coordination of the diaphragm (always exhale on exertion). Every Mother’s EMbody Reclaim program harnesses the therapeutic power of this deep muscle coordination through daily core exercises and full body workouts. Our streaming videos and mobile app walk you through the subtleties of exactly what to do each day to resolve diastasis recti and strengthen your core while improving overall fitness, and we have a very engaged online community of mothers who are supporting each other as they achieve their goals.