Delivering a baby is no easy feat at all and on top of that there are some physical changes that often appear during or after pregnancy. One common change that individuals can feel self-conscious about is a stomach pooch, sometimes referred to as a ‘mom pooch’.
Jelly belly or mom pooch sounds funny, but this term describes a bulge or pouch in the abdominal area that can appear after giving birth to a child. That said, it’s impossible to predict whether you will develop it or not.
A mom pooch depends on your anatomy. One thing for sure is that it’s a common change that can occur due to giving birth.
In this article, you can learn about the mommy pooch workout, i.e. get your body back in shape in a healthy way. Plus, you’ll learn the main causes of a saggy belly, its symptoms, preventions, and effective exercises to heal your mummy tummy.
Can mommy pooch go away with exercise?
Mommy pooch has a medical term for it – diastasis recti. This happens when the six-pack ab muscles separate during pregnancy, as a result of being stretched. This separation can leave the belly sticking out months or even years postpartum (3).
If this sounds familiar, understand that you’re not alone here. A 2016 British Journal of Sports Medicine paper notified that out of 300 women, a third still had diastasis recti condition a year after giving birth (4).
Here comes the main question: can you fix it with a mom belly workout? In fact, yes you can. But there are a few essentials you will have to follow:
- You need to include specific exercises that target the deep core muscles
- You need to focus on proper form and technique, to ensure correct engagement of your core muscles and avoid movements that could potentially strain or even worsen it.
Please note that doing it on your own could be harmful. Your best decision is to relax and contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
Is exercising really helpful? That’s hard to say because more research still needs to be done on this issue. However, there was a pilot study on 63 women who participated in prenatal and postnatal exercises, to prevent or correct diastasis recti. They found that all women who participated in the workout based on the Dia Method showed significant improvements in reducing muscle separation. (5).
Unfamiliar with the Dia Method? No worries, look for information about the Dia method in an upcoming segment.
Overall, with the right nutrition and appropriate mommy pooch exercises, you’ll gradually get back in shape and feel better.
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What exercises get rid of mommy overhang?
Losing belly fat anytime is challenging, not to mention losing baby fat after pregnancy. Starting regular exercise after giving birth is good for overall health and can help with the reduction of postpartum depression.
Before we move to the efficient exercises to get rid of mommy overhang, it’s good to understand the concept of “overhang” itself.
An overhang is a result of excess skin on your belly after pregnancy. In the case of a cesarean, it could be from scar tissue.
The effective ways to reduce the overhang are:
- by losing extra fat gained during pregnancy
- by focusing on whole foods, protein, and fiber
- by leading an active lifestyle (walking, breathing with abdominal contractions), and engaging in belly overhang training
Of course, every pregnancy and delivery is different. That’s why it’s recommended to check with your doctor before engaging in any workout program. If you’re facing any heavy bleeding, headaches, excessive soreness, or other symptoms during or right after exercising, stop immediately and contact your doctor for advice.
Check out the key 7 exercises to repair mommy overhang.
- Kneeling pelvic tilt
- Deep belly breathing
- Banded hip abductions
- Single-leg marching
- The bent knee dead bug
- Glute bridges
- The side plank
Kneeling pelvic tilt
This exercise may tone your tummy and strengthen your abs, which can also help relieve back pain.
How it’s done:
- Get on all fours, with toes and palms touching the floor and arms straight down from your shoulder line.
- Keep your back relaxed and straight, not curved or arched.
- Pull your buttocks forward as you inhale, tilting your pelvis and rotating your pubic bone upward.
- Hold for a count of three, and release (1).
Deep belly breathing
It is an easy exercise you can do even after one hour of giving birth to your baby. It helps relax muscles and starts the process of strengthening your abs and belly.
How it’s done:
- Sit upright and breathe deeply
- Contract and hold your abs tight while inhaling and relax while exhaling
- Gradually increase the amount of time to contract and hold your abs (1).
Banded hip abductions
The band hip abduction is good for training your outer legs and glute muscles while activating your core. To perform this exercise you will need a resistance band.
How it’s done:
- Place the band around your knees and lie flat on your back
- Spread your knees apart and hold this position for a three-count
- Relax and repeat nine more repetitions
How it’s done:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor
- Bring one knee up toward your chest and slowly lower it back down. Repeat with your opposite leg.
- Ensure your lower back is flat against the floor throughout the entire exercise.
The bent knee dead-bug
How it’s done:
- Lie on your back, bend your knees up to 90 degrees, and lift your hands up in the air.
- Extend both arms overhead while bringing one leg down towards the floor.
- Keep both knees bent the entire time. Hold this position for one count and return back to the starting position.
How it’s done:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Keep your arms at your side.
- Initiate the movement by driving your heels into the ground and lift your hips off the ground until your hips, knees, and shoulders create a straight line
- Hold in this position for a few seconds and ease back down
- Repeat 5 times
The side plank
How it’s done:
- Lie on your left side keeping your legs straight and feet stacked on top of each other
- Breathe out and brace your core with a neutral neck
- Lift the hips off your mat to support your weight on your elbow and the side of your left foot
- Hold in this position for a few seconds and change sides
How do I get rid of my mom’s belly pooch?
Flabby abs after pregnancy can potentially contribute to back pain in some individuals, and this is one of the main reasons why losing belly pooch can help alleviate discomfort. Getting rid of mommy belly pooch is a difficult process and if you stick to all the tips you may get your body back to the desired shape.
First, pay attention to what and how much you eat. Your goal is to lower your fat body percentage by maintaining a calorie deficit, eating healthy foods, and engaging in physical activity.
Your basic sources of essential nutrients are:
- Protein foods: meat (including lean cuts of beef, pork, poultry), fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Grains: whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-grain pasta.
- Vegetables: Leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), root vegetables (carrots, potatoes).
- fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits.
- Milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
Limit saturated and trans fats in your diet, and incorporate healthy fats from sources such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
The second tip is to eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large ones. When you consume big meals you may become bloated which can make the bulge appear to be more obvious. Overeating can also be another common reason for bloating (2).
Consuming Smaller, more frequent portions instead, can help prevent overeating, support improved digestion and therefore, reduce the likelihood of bloating and discomfort.
Another thing: notice how fast you’re eating. You might be one of those people who can’t take another bite without a funny TV show background or your phone in the hand with Insta Reels turned on. If you’re distracted by something you tend to eat faster, consume more food and not chew your food properly which may cause bloating.
Engaging in tummy jelly workouts is the second crucial way to fix the mommy belly pooch. Yet, you can’t spot-reduce fat, which is especially true for the abdominal area. You need to focus on the whole-body movements.
The best exercises for a mom belly pooch, or diastasis recti are those that engage the deep abdominals. The Dia Method was already mentioned in this article as part of the research (5).
This method encompasses a system of techniques that incorporates breathing as well as nutritional strategies. These exercises target abs in unexpected ways. For example, instead of a full plank, the Dia Method recommends doing a modified plank at a kitchen counter or side planks.
It offers a crucial movement for you do for 10 minutes in various positions daily:
put your fingers on your belly, take a deep breath, and then exhale, pushing your ab muscles back toward your spine.
Does postpartum saggy belly go away?
Giving life to a human being brings with it so many changes including new responsibilities, moments, and a new body. Yes, it’s hard to process your body transformation, especially at the beginning. This is why you’ll be tempted to strive as hard as you can to look as before you were pregnant.
A postpartum saggy belly is a normal thing after delivering a child. It is possible for your postpartum belly to go away but it won’t happen quickly.
So, here’s what happens: you give birth to a child and lose around 13 pounds due to fluid loss, the placenta, and your child’s weight.
After the first week postpartum, you may lose even more weight. Interestingly, your belly might still look like it did when you were pregnant. No worries, it’s very common .
When you give birth, both your stomach and your uterus will contract to their pre-pregnancy sizes. It takes around six weeks for your uterus to fully contract. During this six-week period, you may lose the weight you gained during pregnancy (6).
This especially applies to breastfeeding mothers who spend around 500 calories per day for this. Your body uses all the stored calories from pregnancy to produce milk and feed your baby (6).
It’s all right to have a postpartum belly a year out. It’s challenging to adjust to being a mother and losing a postpartum belly takes time. Moreover, some women have less elastic skin than others, which might take longer for your stomach to return to its pre-pregnancy shape.
Women who have more than one child, or deliver a larger baby will have abdominal separation, or diastasis recti. Your stomach muscles separate, making your belly stick out.
The best ways to improve your postpartum belly include:
- Exercise. Over time, the saggy belly will lessen on its own but active physical activities, such as running and specific core exercises can help speed up this process. Still, you need to check with the doctor first.
- Eat well. A balanced diet is crucial to feel good and provide essential nutrients for your baby if breastfeeding.
Lastly, remember that giving birth to a child is an incredible thing that squeezes a lot of strength out of you. You don’t really need to rush to regain the pre-pregnancy shapes. You should restore your powers through relaxation and enjoyable activities. Don’t fall for fast body improvements from internet blogger-moms who boast ideal bodies after giving birth to their third child.
We have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes. Besides, most of them desire to showcase their lives in the most idealistic ways. Be patient, stick to the aforementioned tips and your body will thank you for that.
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Can you prevent mommy tummy?
Even though abdominal separation is normal, there are some things to reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti:
- Exercise and eat healthy foods to keep weight gain within a healthy range.
- Keep a good posture by standing up straight with your shoulders back.
- Do safe core exercises. Avoid crunches and sit-ups because they put pressure on your abdominals after 12 weeks of pregnancy and postpartum.
- Don’t strain when lifting things as they can put undue strain on your abdominals.
- Get out of bed by log rolling: If you’re pregnant or postpartum, roll to one side and push yourself up out of bed using your arms (3).
What movements should be avoided with diastasis recti?
Any kind of movement bulging your abdominal wall can cause damage to diastasis recti: it could be something simple like getting out of bed or your chair. But there are specific activities that impair your mommy tummy improvement. Avoid the following exercise movements if you don’t want to worsen your abdominal separation:
- Crunches or all kinds of sit-ups
- Planks or push-ups (unless using modifications)
- Boat pose, a downward dog, and other yoga poses
- Scissors, double leg lifts, and other Pilates moves
- Any other exercise that may cause your abdominals to bulge, dome, or cone.
It’s essential to take this situation seriously because diastasis recti may lead to the following complications: back pain, pelvic and hip pain, umbilical hernia, pain during sex, and urinary incontinence (3).
That’s why asking for professional support will not only help you look and feel better but decrease the risk of other potential conditions.
How can I tighten my saggy mom belly?
Effective strategies to loosen your saggy mom belly involve safe core exercises, eating a healthy diet, and drinking enough water. It’s important to check with your doctor before engaging in any exercise routine.
How long does mom pooch last?
It depends on the person. On average, it takes six to eight weeks for your uterus to get back to its initial size. Still, for some moms, this process may take much longer. This is why switching to healthier dieting choices and safe physical activities can help with this process.
Why am I getting a mom pooch?
Your abs are made up of left and right ab muscles and alinea alba (a thin band of connective tissue) in between. These muscles are pushed outward and stretched to make room for the growing baby. Once the baby is delivered, the muscles can come back together. However, sometimes they become overstretched and do not fully return together. This leads to abdominal separation: when the left and right sides of the abdominals are separated.
Can mommy pooch disappear?
Mommy pooch can disappear on its own. Of course, it depends on the anatomy of every mother. The amount of time it takes to heal the saggy belly relies on the amount of ab separation and how consistent you are with strengthening exercises. Usually, after several weeks of postpartum, this gap will start to close because your muscles become stronger. With a healthier lifestyle and performing exercises, you will notice progress faster.
The Bottom Line
Mommy pooch is a normal condition, occurring when a woman gives birth to a child. It’s characterized by the belly sticking out or bulging months or years postpartum.
The key ways to reduce the saggy postpartum belly are to eat better food and engage in safe core exercises.
There are good ways to prevent diastasis recti. These involve: exercising, a nutritious diet, good posture, getting out of bed properly, and avoiding heavy weights.
Note that certain exercises, like crunches, sit-ups, or Pilates movements may worsen the situation.
You should contact a doctor if you want to try out the mommy pooch workout.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 6 Get-Your-Body-Back Moves for New Moms (2022, webmd.com)
- Bloating 101: Why You Feel Bloated (2022, webmd.com)
- Diastasis Recti (2022, clevelandclinic.org)
- Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain (2009, bmj.com)
- Postnatal Exercise Can Reverse Diastasis Recti (2014, lww.com)
- When Does Postpartum Belly Go Away? (2023, webmd.com)