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Hanging Belly After Pregnancy: What Causes It and What to Do About It

Hanging Belly After Pregnancy: What Causes It and What to Do About It

Right after giving birth, it’s not uncommon for mothers to have gained some weight. However, some mothers also experience having a “hanging belly” after pregnancy. Why does this happen, and what can mothers do to get their tummy back to the way it was?

What Causes a Hanging Belly After Pregnancy?

Right after pregnancy, most women might notice that they still have a post-baby belly. This results from the changes that the woman’s body goes through in order to make space for the growing baby.

Over time, the post-baby belly goes back to the way it was before. It might take some exercise and dieting, but for the most part, mothers can expect their tummies to “retract.”

However, some moms might notice that even if they’ve lost weight and exercised, they still have a bulge on their stomach. This hanging belly after pregnancy is called diastasis recti, and is the result of overstretched muscles in the abdomen.

This happens because the muscles running vertically in the abdomen have started to separate from each other. This happens because the connective tissues are stretched during pregnancy, causing them to become thinner and pull away from each other.

Diastasis recti usually happens if a mother has given birth more than once, if she has twins, or if she has strained her abdominal muscles.

8 Skin Changes During Pregnancy

What problems does diastasis recti cause?

Having a hanging belly after pregnancy is more than just a cosmetic problem. Because the muscles have been stretched, they are not as strong as they used to be.

This can cause problems such as back pain because the abdomen is having a hard time supporting the upper body. It can also affect the stability of the trunk, as well as change the mother’s posture.

There’s also an increased risk of abdominal hernia in extreme cases, or it can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.

It’s impossible for diastasis recti to go away on its own. However, there are ways to improve the abdominal muscles. Short of having surgical repair, there are some conservative methods mothers can try beforehand.

What can you do about a hanging belly after pregnancy?

Here are some things that mothers can do in order to help with a hanging belly after pregnancy:

Exercise

One of the more effective ways to deal with diastasis recti is to exercise. Since the muscles have become weak, exercise is the best way to improve their strength and get them back to normal.

The previous belief was that doing any abdominal exercise only made diastasis recti worse. However, if done properly, some abdominal exercises can be very effective in strengthening and toning the abdomen to address the diastasis recti. Note that it is important to be cautious of just any program to strengthen the abdominal muscles as some may even make it worse.Some examples of recognized programs are MUTU System or Tupler Technique.

When doing abdominal exercises, make sure to activate your deep abdominal muscles, and not your back. It is important to avoid intense core abdominal exercises such as abdominal crunches and heavy resistance exercises. It’s also important to avoid lifting heavy weights. Modifying daily activities to prevent additional strain is encouraged.Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing exercises can also help strengthen your abdomen. This is because deep breathing uses your abdominal muscles and your diaphragm.

By practicing deep breathing, you are strengthening your core muscles, and this can help with diastasis recti.

Use compression garments

You can also use compression garments, or clothing designed to compress your abdomen. These garments are worn under your clothing, and help give support to your abdomen.

This helps keep your abdomen in the proper position, and improves the chances that your muscles will heal properly and go back to the way it was.

Key Takeaways

Having a hanging belly after pregnancy can be annoying to deal with. But if you follow the tips above, you can help your abdominal muscles recover after giving birth.

The important thing to remember is that it’s more than a cosmetic concern. Working out your core muscles improves your posture, stability, and also helps prevent problems such as back pain.

Learn more about Mother Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti (with Crunches), https://blog.nasm.org/womens-fitness/how-to-prevent-diastasis-recti-with-crunches, Accessed March 1, 2021

Your post-baby belly: why it’s changed and how to tone it – BabyCentre UK, https://northwestphysio.com.au/abdominal-separation-what-is-diastasis-recti/, Accessed March 1, 2021

Abdominal Separation: What is Diastasis Recti? – Physiotherapist Brisbane City, Physio Therapy, https://northwestphysio.com.au/abdominal-separation-what-is-diastasis-recti/, Accessed March 1, 2021

Diastasis Recti Abdominis (Abdominal Separation Post Pregnancy), https://www.coreconcepts.com.sg/condition/diastasis-recti-abdominis/, Accessed March 1, 2021

Diastasis Recti Abdominis (Abdominal Separation Post Pregnancy), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29512814/, Accessed March 1, 2021

Abdominal separation (diastasis recti) | Pregnancy Birth and Baby, https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/abdominal-separation, Accessed March 1, 2021

 

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 28
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D.