Healing the mommy pooch is a challenge most new mothers feel overwhelmed with. I know after my first, I wondered if the mommy pooch was something I just had to get used to. The deal is, that the mommy pooch is more complicated than just losing weight. Now that I’ve had four babies, I understand what the mommy pooch is, and exactly how to heal the pooch, so you can see your abs again.
If you are a new mom wanting to give up on ever seeing your abs again, don’t give up yet! I have learned what works and what doesn’t work. Especially after my 4th baby. Being pregnant during a pandemic, and giving birth at the end of the pandemic with a more significant challenge than in my previous three pregnancies. Still, I figured it out, and I am now 1 year postpartum with my abs back and feeling really good. I am able to run, do jumping jacks, and box jumps without any incontinence. I am also able to jump rope lightly and hope to be able to fully jump rope with no issues soon (for some reason this is the hardest for me!).
I also really want you to understand what is going on behind the mommy tummy. What are the hormones, chemicals, and factors that cause the fat to stick to the stomach?
What is going on behind the scenes of the mommy tummy?
The mommy tummy is a combination of factors that cause extra skin, fat, and ab separation to create a pooch in the midsection. Let’s get into these factors quickly, to help you understand how my healing process works, and why it works for me!
Hormones and the mommy tummy:
Pregnancy and postpartum cause a rush and drop of various hormones. In pregnancy, estrogen is very high. Once the baby arrives, estrogen drops quickly along with progesterone. Prolactin for breastfeeding kicks into high gear when estrogen and progesterone drop. During these fluctuations, your body can want to cling to extra fat and nutrients in the midsection particularly.
Chemicals and mommy tummy:
In addition to hormones balancing out, your body is also adjusting to a surge of oxytocin after birth. Oxytocin is important to lactation, but the extra boost can also throw other chemicals like cortisol out of wack. It is really difficult to know exactly how your body is going to react to the surges and drops in chemicals and pheromones, BUT a typical response is to hold on to belly fat.
Sleep loss and mommy tummy:
The loss of sleep is a major cause for belly fat to stick after birth. When we lose sleep, our bodies go into survival mode, increase cortisol, and also crave carbs. The additional carbohydrate intake to help your brain function on low sleep is a process that definitely doesn’t help with losing the mommy tummy.
Diastasis Recti post-birth:
Diastasis recti is where the abdominal muscles separate to allow for the baby to grow and the uterus to expand. It is a normal process for the abs to be separated right after birth. In an ideal case, the abdominals will close back together in a few months, but oftentimes the abdominals stay separated longer than they should. This is a large portion of the mommy tummy. The core is no longer tight, and the fascia connectors between the muscles are stretched out. These poses are a larger challenge to getting the abs to come back together (especially after multiple babies!).
Nutrition and mommy tummy:
Nutrition is a HUGE factor in mommy tummy! The increased carbs, lack of activity, and overall postnatal depletion can contribute to imbalances all around. Most breastfeeding mamas are eating more carbohydrates than they need, so the extra energy is stored in the abdominals. Usually, there is extra fat there from pregnancy, which is then encouraged to stay with increased carbohydrates and blood sugar (which is why I made Milk Dust!! a DELICIOUS protein powder specifically for breastfeeding mamas low in sugar and carbs and high in protein!).
I am finishing up my new Baby Got Abs program, and it is a diet-based program to help you get rid of that belly fat once and for all! Sign up for the waitlist to get 50% off when it is launched! Or, just buy my current program, The Postpartum Cure at 40% off for the holiday season!
Let’s get into what works and what doesn’t work when healing your mommy tummy postpartum, so you can get on track immediately to seeing your abs again.
You might also like: My Favorite Tips for Flat Tummy After Pregnancy
Healing The Mommy Tummy – What Doesn’t Work
There are some things that really don’t work when it comes to healing the mommy tummy. I want to list these quickly first to get to what really works.
Lot’s of Cardio to Lose Fat:
If you think the mommy pooch is going to shred away by just hitting the elliptical or running a lot, that won’t work. Exercise is an important step to getting healthy and fit again after the baby, BUT it is not your first choice to heal the mommy tummy.
Crunches, Planks and Sit Up:
These will not heal the inner stretching and trauma that has happened during pregnancy. The only accomplishment of your ab workout is to strengthen your outer abdominals. To heal the mommy pooch, you need to work in the inner core and pelvic floor.
Low-calorie diet to lose fat:
Do not start reducing calories to try and get rid of the extra fat. Calories are essential for breastfeeding and hormonal function. Part of the mommy tummy is an issue with hormones changing and balancing, so reducing calories is NOT the way to eliminate the belly fat that sticks after pregnancy. Part of the reason The Postpartum Cure breastfeeding diet plan is so successful is that we don’t focus on calories at all. The focus is on nutrients and eating the most nutrient-dense foods to satisfaction.
Wearing a postpartum belly wrap:
Wearing a postpartum belly wrap is very helpful in fixing posture, and supporting your uterus. The belly wraps can not make your ab separation less, nor can it reduce fat on the abdominals. Fixing posture is really important to healing your core overall, so there is a benefit to wrapping postpartum, BUT it will not completely eliminate the pooch.
What works when healing the mommy tummy:
After 4 babies, I’ve figured out what works to heal the mommy tummy and finally start seeing your abs again. I also know the frustration when what has worked before, isn’t working anymore! I found this to be the case with my 4th. It took just a bit more effort this time and tweaking my diet routine (probably because I’m older too!)
Healing your core with specific exercises consistently:
There are very specific exercises you can do to heal your core. Most of these exercises are Pilates-based, with breath movements. I also do pelvic floor work as well, to connect and re-activate the pelvic floor muscles. Finding a program that you can consistently stick to is really the key. There are a lot of resources out there, my Ab Rehab is what works for me, but the most important part is to consistently challenge your abs to heal properly. A good core program builds strength back in the inner abdominals and corrects posture after pregnancy.
Lowering processed carbohydrates:
Processed carbohydrates can do a number on your hormone levels, as well as increase belly fat. Especially after birth. Often times we become more sedentary once a baby is born, yet we increase our carb intake due to cravings and lack of sleep. This combination will keep your belly fat lingering, and can even increase belly fat, so you are left with a mommy pooch once your uterus shrinks back to normal size.
I am a big proponent of intermittent fasting, and I have been doing it for a long time. I have found it to work well for me when losing the baby weight altogether, but I am careful to pair it with lots of nutrient-dense foods, protein, and clean eating to ensure my milk supply isn’t affected. I’ve been intermittent fasting since birth with my 4th, and I am still nursing him 14 months later (though I plan to wean him soon!). There are also a lot of great doctors who support intermittent fasting and even say it can help reduce extra skin (yay!!). I personally have found this to be TRUE! While breastfeeding, you can shorten your fasting window until your supply is where you want, then increase the fasting window as you are able!
Staying active helps your body heal and get back to normal. Walking is very therapeutic for the body, and if you are able to jog after 6 weeks postpartum, that will help burn some of the belly fat faster! Walking helps your abdominals get back to working normally when you are in an upright position, which pulls them in. When sitting, your abdominals naturally pooch out, and that isn’t conducive to coming back together. Staying active and engaging your core, which is involuntary and effective while walking, is really helpful to pull those abs back in naturally.
Building strength also helps engage your core and build the inner strength back. Squatting, lunges, chest press, glute work, and more will build supporting muscles for your posture. I was fortunate to find Burn Bootcamp, which is the same exercise style in my program, and I LOVED it! I think building strength through their workouts, which are HIIT style with strength days, really helped my core heal again after the 4th pregnancy.
Your diet plan is KEY to shredding the fat and loose skin that is 80% of the mommy tummy:
Yes, you need to heal the abdominals, but many would rather blame their pooch on Diastasis Recti. The reality is that 80% of your mommy tummy is your diet. Your diet has to be tweaked and fine-tuned to really reduce the extra fat lingering there.
I’m almost done creating my new program, Baby Got Abs, which is a diet-focused program that isn’t as loose as The Postpartum Cure. This program involves macro counting without measuring or weighing food, intermittent fasting, and some cardio. This is the program to do if you are ready for the next level in your fitness game, and you are ready to see your abs again.
Keeping both you and your baby healthy while breastfeeding requires a proper meal plan, effort, and guidance. Your step-by-step program to losing weight safely is waiting.
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