Getting rid of your ‘mummy tummy’
Chances are that your new wobbly tummy is one of the things you are most shocked about in terms of changes to your body. Fear not! It is perfectly normal to still look pregnant for a while after you have had your baby, and be able to grab a handful of marshmallow-like belly! The first thing you need to think about post-birth is how your tummy has responded to pregnancy and birth.
You may have some separation of the abdominal muscles during and after pregnancy (the technical term is ‘diastasis’, which sounds scarier than it is). Around a third of women experience this. This is obvious when you think of how much your tummy needs to expand to accommodate your little babe.
When you have had your baby, you will be able to feel whether you have this separation, or not, with your fingers. Lie on your back, with your feet on the floor, knees bent and head and shoulders lifted. Feel above and below your belly button to see if you can find a gully between your tummy muscles. You should avoid sit-up type exercises until this gap has closed to less than two fingers width, until then you can focus on strengthening your core. Start gently and build up.
Focus on your core strength to begin with
What are my ‘core’ muscles? The TVA (transversus abdominis) is your deepest abdominal muscle and the body’s ‘internal corset’. You can activate it simply by breathing in deeply and letting your chest expand, then as you exhale, pulling in your tummy all the way around and holding it in for a couple of seconds, then releasing.
Gaining control over your TVA and working it as often as possible is key to having a flat tum after you have had your baby. Once your tummy is stronger and your diastasis has closed you can begin a wider variety of more intense abdominal exercises like those in the 3-Plan, which has exercises for each stage of your postnatal recovery. Until them focus on core and pelvic floor strengthening.
Flat tummy in a nutshell!
In summary there are three things you need to do to get a flat tummy:
1. Get rid of the fat over your tummy by doing cardiovascular exercise.
2. Work the deep ‘core’ muscles (your TVA) to strengthen and tone your tummy and back (these ‘partner’ muscles need to work together)
3. Tone the surface abdominals once your tummy is stronger
For your saggy lower tummy number 2 is absolutely crucial. Sit-up type exercises will help later on, but do not target the lower abdominal area that you are trying to target. Focus on getting your core strength back and losing any excess fat you may be carrying. A healthy diet is crucial too. Remember that unfortunately you can’t target one specific area of your body to tone up that easily; a much better approach is to try and get your whole body fit and toned and this will give you much more body confidence and much better results.
Everyone’s different and it will take some people longer than others to get their figures back; the key is to stick with your ab workout and make exercise part of your routine. You are the one in charge of how you change your body and it will take effort and time
If you want a taste of the 3-plan and a simple tummy plan to do at home every day, which uses no equipment click here for my postnatal flat tummy plan.