The theme for international Women’s day #iwd2022 is break the bias. Oh hi, I know it’s been a while but I cannot be silent on the only day in the year that celebrates my gender. I shall get back to the reason of my silence but for today’s #iwd2022 can we talk about Mummy pooch? Mummy pooch or mummy tummy is that soft stubborn belly fat below the belly button postpartum. Do you know that it is an actual medical condition? It is a very common condition and 50% of pregnant women end up with it. Admittedly I didn’t know that until about a month ago, during a conversation with an old acquaintance, I stated that I have been in the gym for six whole weeks and my entire body has seen a drastic improvement except my waist line which seem quite determined to remain at 34inches no matter how many laps of abs workout I did. I raised up my dress to show her the loose skin around my stomach (this is quite common for sierra Leonean women who are comfortable with each other. I need to state this before my readers start giving me the side eyes) and her response was “oh it’s diasastsis recti, I have that condition too”. Wait what?? Is it a medical condition? How did I not know this?
Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominal muscles in the midline, more commonly known as your “abs.” Your abs are made up of two parallel bands of muscles on the left and right sides of your torso. They run in the center of your abdomen from the bottom of your ribcage down to your pubic bone. These muscles are joined to each other by a strip of tissue called the linea alba.
Diastasis recti” means your belly sticks out because the space between your left and right belly muscles has widened. In an even simpler term, it means one belly muscle has now been seperated into two.
Boy o boy, pregnancy can be demanding and when you feel like you are finally done with it, you are left with souvenirs or badges of honour and except for the precious little bundle of joy most of these souvenirs are unwanted. Constipation, humbled breast(I dont refer to them as saggy), stretch marks in the wrong places are all souvenirs from pregnancy and so is a fairly harmless but undesired condition called diastasis recti. When you are pregnant especially during the third trimester, the abdomen need to make space for your growing baby, the pregnacy hormones help relaxe these muscles on both sides of your belly stretching them outwards for that to happen. Diasastsis recti occur when linea alba(the strip in the middle of your belly that joins both sides together)is overstretched and doesn’t join back together. May I quickly state that this condition can also affect men and children especially premature children.
To preven this condition, Fitness experts recommend that women perfom daily exercises that help to build core strength and pelvic floor muscles both before and during pregnancy. So before you get pregnant hit the gym to build those muscles and never stop until the baby is born, it reduces your chances drastically of having mummy pooch.
What are the risk factors for developing diastasis recti?
Several factors can increase your risk for developing diastasis recti:
• Having multiple pregnancies (especially back-to-back).
• Being over 35 years old.
• Having multiples (such as twins or triplets).
• Having a heavy or big baby.(this might be it for me, when I gave birth to my son he was 4.1kg)
• Being extremely petite.
• Vaginal delivery. Pushing can increase abdominal pressure.
How to Self Diagnose Diasastsis recti
• Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.
• Place one hand on the midline of your core with your fingers flat on your midline.
• Place your other hand under your head and neck for support.Lift your head slowly and begin adding pressure through the pads of your fingers.
• With no diastasis recti, there is the sensation of a toned wall as you lift your direct. If you feel a space, or your fingers sink into your core, you likely have diastasis recti.
• Repeat the procedure for the areas directly above your belly button down to the pubis to determine whether the diastasis recti is isolated or in your core as a whole
researching for this article, I realised that certain exercises that I have been doing actually have the tendencies to worsen the condition. For people with mild to moderate diasastsis recti, specific exercises can be done to help rectify the condition. But in severe case, surgery is recommended.
Diastasis Recti Exercises to Avoid
Skip any movement or exercise that places strain on the midline or causes the belly to bulge outward, like sit-ups and planks. I didn’t know this though and these were my favourite workout the last eight weeks
Also avoid heavy lifting, other forbidden exercises include most traditional ab work such as crunches, oblique curls, reverse curls, and roll-ups.
MostTraditional exercises to get a six-pack are not going to give you the benefit you are looking for.
The Best Exercises for Diastasis Recti
pelvic tilts, toe taps, heel slides, single-leg stretches, and bridges with belly scooping. Always keep the belly pulled in, rather than doing any movement that pushes it out (and causes the telltale bulge on the midline).
“Think of your abs as a corset that goes from the hip bones up the ribs, and think of the action that you would do to tighten the corset: Both hands pull towards the center from the sides, like the obliques do.”
It’s also important to know the correct breathing techniques. “To avoid creating a compression in the abdominal cavity, it is fundamental to exhale during moments of effort
If you have been struggling with belly fat that doesn’t care about how many abs workout you do, Dont just rely on my article. Read extensively on this topic, every tool we need is now available on google. Or visit a physical therapist for help.
Happy International women’s day readers. With love and gratitude from Freetown