Unfortunately, some women continue to look pregnant after giving birth, sometimes referred to as having a “Mommy Tummy.” Others may look pregnant regardless of whether or not they’ve even been pregnant! What are the reasons and what can women do to decrease the size and shape of their bellies?
Post-Partum Belly (aka Mommy or Mummy Tummy)
Some lucky women regain their abdominal shape soon after giving birth, and are back to wearing their skinny jeans in a matter of weeks. However, for many women it can take much longer–if ever–to regain their previous shape & size.
Weight – If weight is higher than pre-pregnancy, it may be carried in the abdomen and also more difficult to lose than before pregnancy. Body contouring treatments can possibly help with some inch loss and skin tightening post-partum, however if the reason is from stretched abdominal muscles or bloating issues it may be harder to regain their previous shape and size.
Skin – While all pregnancies stretch abdominal skin, some women’s skin quickly “bounces back” and looks as it did before. For others the skin on their stomachs continues to be loose and sometimes even saggy. Reasons include amount of weight gained and size of baby(ies), genetics and hormones, especially estrogen, are also to blame. Skin tightening treatments may be the only way to improve this loose skin.
Diastasis Recti – I once had a petite client who had delivered 2(!) sets of twins. Her skin wasn’t loose and she had no stretch marks. However, she had a small abdominal bump and appeared to be 2 or 3 months pregnant. The reason was Diastasis Recti, which caused her rectus abdominis (abdominal) muscle to separate during her pregnancies.
Diastasis Recti (DR) can also occur in men and women for other reasons, including large weight gain and excessive weight bearing work or exercises. Fortunately, there are many practitioners who specialize in teaching clients how to regain their abdominal muscles. Keep in mind there are some exercises, including planking, that can make DR worse. It’s best to learn proper strengthening exercises from knowledgeable physiotherapists, personal trainers, and others who have specific training to heal this common concern.
The second most common cause of “pregnancy belly” is abdominal bloating. Some may wake up in the morning with a flat belly and find it gradually increases in size as the day continues. There are many reasons for bloating, including:
- Gas – FODMAP (highly fermentable) foods, carbonated beverages, plus…
- Food Intolerance & Food Sensitivities – wheat, dairy, beans, certain fruits & vegetables, etc.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Celiac Disease
- Ovarian cysts
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
If you feel and look more bloated throughout your day, start keeping a food diary and notice what you’ve eaten that may be the cause. Wheat and dairy are two of the most common foods causing sensitivities and bloating; try cutting one of these two food groups out for a day or two and see if it makes any difference. Beans and lentils, along with certain fruits and veggies, are also common causes.
There are many resources online and in books to learn about food sensitivities and intolerances, of course. Seeing a nutritionist or dietician can also be very helpful.
If bloating issues persist, a visit to your doctor is a recommended next step. Tests and procedures may need to be done to determine if any of the more serious medical causes listed above, or others, are the reason.
When looser skin or extra fat accumulation are of concern, TriLipo Radiofrequency from NuCurves Body Contouring in Calgary can help by shrinking fat cells and tightening skin. For more information or to book a consultation, contact us or call Rhonda at 403-969-4371.
Good luck in your journey to wellness and a flatter belly!