Do You Have a Mummy Tummy?

Woman cradling her distended stomach.

The body goes through incredible changes during pregnancy, stretching, and re-shaping. Some of these changes are temporary but some seem to become permanent. One residual affect that may occur after birth is a mummy tummy, with a distended stomach that makes you feel like you look 12 weeks pregnant. It is common to hear mums discussing that they can not get rid of their mummy tummy and that the look like they are 12 weeks pregnant.

This is not normal and may be due to damage to your abdominals.

One condition that occurs in 35-60% of women is the separation of your abdominal muscles (Separation of the recti). The six pack muscles or rectus abdominus is composed of a left side and a right side in between the two sides of muscle is connective tissue termed fasica. During pregnancy this connective tissue stretches and if it stretches too much it may tear, causing a hernia.

In many cases if the tissue is not torn this gap shrinks back to normal once the baby is born. However, in some cases if the stretching is excessive the abdominals do not come back together, leaving what is termed a mummy tummy, or that distended 12 week pregnant look.

When the connective tissue between the two abdominal muscles is excessively stretched it can leave a gap in between these muscles, which causes the muscles to look distended.

Although this may no cause immediate health threats it does weaken your stomach and increase your likelihood to lower back, and give you protruded stomach that often looks as if you are 12 weeks pregnant. Training abdominals correctly can reduce this gap in between the two abdominal muscles.

The second condition that may be causing this problem is a hernia. This is when the connective tissue between the two rectus abdominus muscles tears. If this tear is large enough if can allow the small intestines to protrude out through the stomach wall. Unfortunately if this tear is too large you may require surgery to rectify the problem. (You do need to make sure that this is just a separation and NOT a hernia, so check with your doctor and if you’re not sure then get a scan.)

In developing an exercise program for a person with separated abdominals you need a professional who understands this condition, not just a trainer. The first step in this program is to establish a connection TVA and pelvic floor. The second is to ensure that the TVA works independently and can work in combination with the other abdominals muscles. The essential stage to training people with separated abs is rotational exercises. These exercises integrate the oblique abdominal muscles as well as the rectus abdominus. It is essentials in helping to strengthen the abdominals in reduce this gap.

We look forward to helping you create a healthier life.

Simon Fox BSc (Hons)
Exercise Rehabilitation Specialist