A sensitive topic. Mummy tummies and post baby bellies are something that I deal with on a regular basis. I know how much pressure mums can feel to lose the baby weight and get back into their skinny jeans. I felt it myself after my second baby especially. Social media and the media shows us how some celebs look like they’ve never had a baby just a few weeks after giving birth. There are posts of mums doing all kinds of crazy in order to lose weight and tone up. Whereas actually if your body has just had a baby doesn’t it need to rest and isn’t it perfectly natural and normal for your body to not ping back to normal after 9 months of stretching and carrying an extra person around inside it?
I’ve had 2 babies. I’m a Pilates teacher and a dietitian. So I eat well, I exercise and I didn’t put on too much weight with either pregnancy. Yet I still took 6 months to lose the baby weight. Here I am 4 weeks after baby with a definite bump still there.
Pilates with Priya: Post Natal Tummy Week 4
Reasons to embrace the mummy tummy:
1. If you are breastfeeding then your body needs to have some reserves to make milk. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight but your body may not let you lose it all too soon. It’s a pretty sensible system really isn’t it. There is some built in protection for baby in those early months.
2. It’s taken 9 months or so to create a baby, you’ve done a stunning job of carrying baby around and feeding baby. All of that takes a toll on your body, it uses your nutritional stores. Now your body needs to recover. 9 months on, 9 months off is the commonly said phrase and I agree with it. It may feel like a long time but it really isn’t in the grand scheme of life.
3. Obviously you don’t want your weight to stay higher than normal for ever, but initially it’s a rite of passage and a sign of mummyhood. Try to savour those early days. Spending time with your baby and looking after yourself is the most important thing.
4. Getting back into high intensity exercise too soon can be damaging. Your pelvic floor needs to be strong enough and any abdominal separation fixed before you start running, jumping or high impact workouts. Stick to swimming, postnatal classes or specialist pilates.
Look out for my next post for top tips on how to lose that mummy tummy.
The past 4 weeks has on the one hand flown past and on the other hand it feels like its been forever that this little boy has been around. Life has calmed down with visitors being less frequent, more of a natural routine appearing and sleep deprivation properly setting in as the adrenaline wears off!
I’ve just gone back to post natal Pilates, very cautiously. It’s great to be back in my studio exercising with other mums but I’m pacing myself and only doing short bursts of gentle core work. My tummy muscles separated a little in this second pregnancy, a condition known as diastasis recti, and I have a 1cm gap at present. This is nothing to worry about but I’m keen to close this gap completely before attempting any exercises that involve curling up.
For more on diastasis recti see here and here.
Here is my post natal mummy tummy. I’m keen to dispel the perfect tummy, air brushed celeb look and would love pics of your post baby tummies, at at any stage after baby for a blog post. Names optional! Please send them through to me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pilates with Priya: Post Natal Tummy Week 4
I’m also trying to fit in a daily walk, the fresh air and cardiovascular exercise is great for me and baby. Plus having a toddler have to get out and about. It’s all about pacing yourself and planning I think. What are your thoughts?
This week has been mainly spent in hospital as baby Judah lost a little too much weight. Now most babies tend to lose some weight post-birth and they are allowed to lose up to 10% of their birthweight with no concerns. Little Judah ended up losing 15% of his birthweight so we were admitted for tests and monitoring.
Now hospital is not a fun place to be and with all the tests, feeding and being in a hospital room it became 5 days of mainly sitting and lying down with occasional sleeping 😉 So all the gentle walks I had been planning didn’t happen.
On of the questions the medical team had was over my milk supply and quality, so I focused a lot on feeding, expressing milk and eating well. You need an extra 3-500kcals per day when breastfeeding. The best thing is to ensure your meals are all balanced and then to eat according to appetite. I find I’m often hungriest last thing at night and at the night feeds.
All that feeding and expressing seems to be doing the trick as I’ve definitely lost weight this week and I’m back in my “slightly large, extra comfy” jeans – you know the type I mean. I’ve done a couple of very basic pilates exercises on occasions including single knee folds, pelvic tilts and standing heel floats. Don’t rush to get back into exercise at this point, just settle into getting to know your baby but do think about your posture when feeding and carrying baby. Stand/Sit tall, imagine you are lifted by the crown of your head towards the ceiling, slide your shoulder blades down in your back, have your weight balanced evenly over both feet and try to keep your lower back in a neutral position.
Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 14 post-birth
- Make sure you eat extra to enable your body to provide enough milk and good quality milk needed for baby.
- Keep a snack box handy filled with healthy items you can munch on as you feed. For example healthy flapjack, nuts, raw veggies and hummous, oatcakes and peanut butter, dried fruit and cereal bars all feature in mine.
- Keep going with your pelvic floor exercises, try to do these each time you feed baby.
- If you can build in a couple of short, gentle walks.
- Remember your posture.
- Look out now for post-natal exercise classes and pilates classes.
It’s day 7 post birth and slowly my body feels like it is returning to normal. My mummy tummy is shrinking gradually and the after birth pains are definitely diminishing. For me these after birth pains have been the worst thing. I didn’t have them with baby number 1, but everytime I feed it feels like another contractions. This is due to my uterus contracting and everything shrinking back to normal so it’s a good thing, but I’m not enjoying it!
Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 2 Post-Birth
Having a toddler means little time to rest so I’m quite active around the house. I’ve already learnt that I can’t lift my toddler, it’s too much for my back and lifting her led to some twinges (yikes) so I’m steering clear of heavy lifting for a while.
So what exercises have I been doing?
Pelvic floor exercises or kegels. I’ve been trying to do these everytime I feed the baby. If you aren’t sure where these are they are the muscles that now don’t work very well 😉 Imagine you are doing a wee and try to stop the flow of urine, it’s those muscles. Try doing some fast contractions where you squeeze the muscles all the way up and then release – imagine a lift going up inside you. Then also do some slow contractions where you slowly take the lift up, hold at the top for 5 seconds and slowly release. You really want to strengthen these muscle as otherwise there will be problems when you cough, laugh, sneeze, jump…. you get the picture!
TVA or core activation. Think about drawing in the muscles below your belly button. There is a belt-like muscle that comes all the way around your body like a corset. Try not to scoop in all your tummy but just tighten up the lower tummy muscles. It may help to place your fingers just inside your hip bones, then cough. Did you feel something tighten? That’s the muscle.
Rest time is also essential though personally this is the bit I find hardest to fit in as I seem to have babies that require a lot of feeding! Try to rest when the baby is napping and remember you don’t have to be superwoman at this point in life. If you have a slightly “messy round the edges house” no-one will mind 😉 Plus if you do too much you can affect your milk supply, so be kind to yourself.