This question comes up a lot for mums, and not just in the postnatal period. A pregnant looking stomach 9 months + or years postpartum is not uncommon. We are so used to seeing women in the media ‘bounce back’ quickly after having babies, constant messaging telling us that we should “look” a certain way post-baby, which can make it even more frustrating or confusing when we don’t.
You might be sick of people asking when you’re due, long after you’ve had your baby.
You may have a condition called diastasis recti. But there could be other reasons why you may have a pregnant looking stomach long after having your baby.
Alignment causing a pregnant looking stomach
Your posture, or, your alignment could be contributing to the way your tummy looks. Good posture during pregnancy and motherhood is challenged every day. Bending, feeding, carrying babies, or wrangling squirming toddlers… All of the things we NEED to do to get through the day aren’t great for alignment or posture.
Imagine your pelvis is a bowl of water which you have to keep upright to avoid spilling any of the water.
If you’re over-arching your back or tucking your tailbone underneath you, then your pelvis is not optimally aligned.
This leads to the outward pressure on the rectus muscle (core), as well as the downward pressure on your pelvic floor, to be increased.
It also further weakens your transverse muscle, this is the important one to strengthen if you want to get a flat tummy.
You can address and correct your alignment to help lose a pregnant looking stomach. It will also help make your bum perkier AND strengthen your pelvic floor! If you have lower back, knee or hip pain, correcting your alignment can help to reduce this too. A strong pelvic floor, a flatter tummy, no more back pain AND a perkier bum?
We’ll give you all the alignment knowledge and tools you need in the MUTU System programme, but here’s a little taster to get you started.
- When you are standing your weight should be through your heels, not the balls of your feet. You should be able to lift your toes and your bum should curve out.
- Don’t tuck your tailbone!
- Draw your belly button through to the spine, but do this without moving your pelvis.
- How much better does that feel?
If your belly gets bigger throughout the day, or if you feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating, there could be excess sugar in your diet, or you may have developed an intolerance to certain foods. These issues can lead to undigested food in your intestine pushing your stomach out – this is the swelling and bloating that you are so familiar with, and may be why you still look pregnant
So, what can you do to help minimise this?
Firstly, try cutting right down on processed foods (especially sugar).
You can also try cutting out wheat and dairy for a few weeks. You can continue to have a healthy diet without them, so don’t worry about removing them for a while
Keep a log of what you have been eating and how you feel… If you are feeling bloated at different points during the day – then it is likely not your muscles to blame. It is a food and / or digestive issue.
Whenever possible make sure you’re eating fresh, nutritious and unprocessed food.
Eating to minimise bloating
- Firstly cut out sugar – this is likely to be key
- Drink lots of water and herbal teas to keep hydrated and encourage digestion
- Eat lots of fibre – all the fruits and veggies!
- Include proteins with every meal
- Make swaps for healthier carbohydrates – whole grain rice, quinoa, rye, oats and spelt.
- Making some easy and simple changes to what you eat could stop you from feeling low, being bloated and tackle a pregnant looking stomach. It might also help you sleep better 🙂
You might already be working your core muscles, but it is possible that you could be doing exercises that aren’t working for a pregnant looking stomach, especially if you have diastasis recti. Or you might not be connecting with or engaging those muscles quite correctly.
Think of it like this: the way your abs look when you’re exercising them, is the way you’re exercising them to look.
So look at your what your stomach is doing when you do certain exercises when you sit up from lying down, or lift your little one. Is your abdomen bulging out? You might be increasing intra-abdominal pressure which leads to your stomach pushing even further out. The opposite of what you are trying to achieve. When you are engaging your transverse muscles correctly your lower abdomen should hollow gently inwards as the muscle contracts. If they’re gong the other way, check your technique.
Diastasis recti can cause you to still look pregnant.
A diastasis is the widening of the gap between the two sections of your rectus abdominus (or 6 pack) muscle that runs down the centre of your abs.
It is natural for these muscles to separate during in pregnancy, this is to make room for the baby. But the problems can occur when they don’t go back together afterwards.
Traditional exercises like sit-ups and planks can make your diastasis recti worse – which won’t help with an already pregnant looking stomach.
It is important to do foundation core exercises that are specifically designed for a mother’s body.
94% of women with diastasis recti / separation of the stomach muscles reported an improvement after using MUTU System.
MUTU System can help you heal, reconnect and realign your body, lose weight (if you want to), feel supported, strong and confident.
It will allow you to get fit, healthy and strong, safely and with the confidence and reassurance to know you’re getting it right.
Over 80,000 women worldwide have joined the MUTU family and are enjoying control and confidence in how their body looks, works, and feels.