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What is 'Mummy Tummy'?

Without a celebrity mom's army of nannies and personal trainers, you may find it tough to get your pre-baby body back. Lisa Wilkinson wants to let you in on a little secret.

Unless you have super-human genetics, your body will never be the same. It will bear the look of the wonder of being a mother. And we should all learn to love our marks, loose skin and increased girth because of the baby gift we got in return.

So after stating that, there is a caveat. There is one postnatal physical condition which can affect the look, feel and function of your belly.

Abdominal Separation

Known as rectus diastasis in medical terms, sometimes the abdominal muscles in your belly just don’t come back together correctly after having a child. This may not only make getting a firm belly impossible, but also, in more serious cases, increase the possibility of a herniation (where internal structures push though the stomach muscles).

Whilst your baby (or babies) grew inside you, the muscles at the front of your belly were pushed out and pulled apart. About three months after the birth of your baby, the muscles should have returned back together.

This is not a new phenomenon. One study shows 39 percent of women’s abdomens will typically not recover fully, with other studies indicating up to 65 percent of women will suffer from diastasis after giving birth.

What happens if my muscles don't return to normal?

If you find that your muscles aren't returning to normal, it can lead to some of the following issues:

  • 'Mummy tummy': the appearance of a belt of soft, wobbly flesh around your midriff. Not dangerous but can make you feel self-conscious.

  • Lower back pain: As the muscles of your abdomen have weakened, they are unable to support your back effectively. Often this results in persistent and worsening lower back pain.

  • Herniation: The most serious condition is when the gap is quite wide, and the digestive tract starts to push through, creating a hernia.

    How can I check my muscles?

    After six weeks you should only be able to fit in one finger. Anything more and your muscles may not be coming back together. Book in with a physical or physiotherapist specialising in women’s health to get it checked out.

    What increases the risk of diastasis?

    Certain conditions predispose women to having a separation. These include: multiple births, untoned abdominal muscles, large babies, being overweight and having more than one child.

    How can I get my muscles back together?

    Firstly, you must stop making them worse. The action of doing a sit up, known as supine flexion, must be avoided as this can tighten the muscles and cause them to separate even further. So contrary to your beliefs, no more stomach crunches.

    Instead you will need to start focusing on drawing the muscles together and back on your out breath, whilst engaging your pelvic floor at the same time. Also doing some basic Pilates moves where your head remains on the floor may help.

    Undoubtedly, the best advice is to speak to a clinical therapist who specializes in abdominal separation, such as a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health.

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Put one finger over your belly button and press lightly down
  • Do a sit up movement and feel the sides of your rectus muscle on either side of your finger.
  • If you don’t feel it, put two fingers in one to the left and one to the right across ways.
  • If you need more fingers, use them.
Undoubtedly, the best advice is to speak to a clinical therapist who specializes in abdominal separation, such as a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health.

For more support, visit the-elbowroom.com


About the Author

A birthing educator helping parents, midwives and other healthcare professionals in their journey into parenthood. www.the-elbowroom.com

Comments

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Maria Melez
I'm currently pregnant and I'm worried about this. My sister (mommy of 2) recommended me to aply deermalmd stretch mark serum, to prevent getting stretch marks and to help my skin to regenrate after giving bith.
24/10/2017 02:56:07

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