First let me say that if you opened this hoping to see a picture of me and my post baby abs you’re going to be disappointed. Ha! (However, I appreciate and admire the women who are brave enough to be that real.)
But I did want to open the discussion about our core and abs, especially after pregnancy.
Pregnancy changes our bodies and some women give up on ever seeing their abs again. Personally, my belly is never pancake flat- partly due to appendectomy surgery and scar and partly genetics. In my family we all have skinny legs but if we gain weight it goes right to our belly. (Thanks, mom!)
So although I don’t expect to see a six pack anytime soon, baby J is 3 months old today and I am ready to at least see my old belly again!
Often it’s the lower abdomen that is most challenging and I wanted to share a few things that may be helpful if you had a baby 3 months or 3 years ago:
1) Start with the basics
Many times belly fat is linked to all the reasons I listed in this post on why runners can’t lose weight- sleep, stress, poor diet, too much of the same exercise, no strength training or toning.
For postpartum moms, diasatsis recti is not often talked about but relatively common (2 out of 3 moms who have had two babies have it!). It’s basically the separation of the ab muscles. This article talks about how to test for it and simple ab exercises to help close the gap.
It’s important to avoid more intense ab exercises until the gap is closed- otherwise you can make it worse.
3) Hip/ pelvic tightness
Melissa at Fit N Well Mommy shared her discovery that tight hip flexors can cause anterior pelvic tilt. It makes your hips tilt forward and can push out the lower belly.
This one is true for me! I’m never all that flexible to begin with but it definitely got worse through my pregnancy. And anyone with a desk job is likely to have tight hip flexors as well. I liked the stretches outlined in this article and have been incorporating them (almost) daily.
To be honest, if I had to name a trouble spot my abs would be it. But over the years I’ve worked a lot on loving the body I have. Carrying, delivering and feeding a baby is a great way to gain renewed respect for what our body can do! (As can a good workout.)
It’s okay to want to take care of our bodies and look good. But it’s not okay to think and say negative things to ourself because our body isn’t what we wished it was.
It’s not easy but ultimately I think we each need to find that balance between striving for a healthy body (weight goals or flat belly) and loving the body we are in.
Moms, did you have diastasis recti?
How do you find that balance and practice loving the body you have?