While your baby is growing inside of you it starts to separate your abdominal muscles. After you have your baby only a lucky few will escape without a "mummy tummy", that little pooch that won't go away is because your muscles are still separated. So, short of a tummy tuck what do you do? Here's what did and didn't work for me.
Sit-ups and Crunches:
You shouldn't be doing crunches if you have abdominal muscle separation (called a diastisis) because it makes the pooch worse. Instead, you need some kind of support that will hold your transverse muscles in and help to strengthen them, while the muscles heal back into place where they belong.
How to check if you have a diastisis:
Lie on the floor on your back. Place your fingers across your belly button horizontally or right below or right above. The size of the gap will vary from place to place on your tummy. Push them in there good and lift your head. Just your head. You will feel the muscles tighten up and kinda grab hold of your fingers. If you are more than 1 finger width you definitely have a diastisis. Most women have 4 or more fingers' width right after having a baby (check 3 days after you had your baby).
So here's what worked for me:
The minute I had a chance after having my baby I used an abdominal wrap. I started out with a thick Ace Bandage, but it didn't stay put. So then I tried using my Belly Bra backwards and upside down. This worked fairly well for quite a while. It was bulky under clothes though. So I wore that as much as I could for about 2 months.
Then my husband suggested I try his back brace. I would recommend one of those Belly Bandits, or something similar. I'm just cheap and tried to use what I had. The brace worked really well. It stayed put and was just the right motion of pulling the sides of the abdominals in together. By 3 months I started wearing it just at night. It was really working!
Now at 4 months my belly is flatter than it ever was after my first baby, even when I weighed less than I do now. Now that it has healed back together I have started doing abdominal exercises again. I try to stay away from exercises that require me to lift my shoulders off the ground though. I do planks, standing exercises like the ones in Turbo Jam, and head lifts. I'll post later how to do these exercises. Closing my diastisis has solved my lower back pain and flattened my tummy (as much as it will flatten with my weight).
I think improving your posture is also important to looking slim after a baby. Standing up straight will make you look like you lost 10 lbs. Exercise your posture muscles and you will stand up straight without even thinking about it. I will also do a post on posture later.
If you have a diastisis and you had your baby long ago it is still possible to close it up. Just do the same things recommended for just having a baby. It's never too late to lose that pooch!
guest post by Valerie of Healthy Life Crusaders
Photo by Bortonia