Many women come into the clinic complaining of a “pooch” below their belly button. This pooch has seemingly appeared after having children and will not go away despite working out and eating well. There can be many reasons for this uncomfortable lower abdominal pooch postpartum.
In this post, we’re going to take you through 3 common reasons why you might have “mom pooch” and what you can do about it.
1) Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti refers to abdominal separation during pregnancy and the thinning of the linea alba tissue, which runs down the center of your belly. Note that diastasis is a normal occurrence in the majority of pregnancies, so do not fear if you are one of the large majority who experiences this. When there is abdominal separation, the abdominal wall can outpouch below the belly button and you are often left with the dreaded “mom pooch.”
Diastasis can persist into the postpartum period and will often require treatment through a gradual and progressive strengthening program (such as The Postnatal Academy), and individualized treatment strategies recommended by your pelvic health therapist.
2) C-Section Scar Adhesions
If you gave birth via c-section, there will likely be scar adhesions along the lower abdominal wall. These adhesions can be between layers of tissue, or in some cases, onto viscera like the bladder. These adhesions or scar tissue restrictions can affect both the look and function of your abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Cosmetically, these deep adhesions will create a shelf like appearance on top of, or below the c section scar.
A pelvic health physiotherapist can help teach you work through your c-section scar to decrease scar tissue, minimize adhesions, and reduce that “mom pooch”. There is no time limit to when you can derive benefits from mobilization of scar tissue. “I see women at 10 years postpartum and we are able to make a vast difference with the aesthetic look of the scar, as well as aches/discomforts that come along with adhered scar tissue” says Marla.
3) Uterus Size
In some women, the uterus remains slightly larger in size and more anteriorly tilted after having a baby. This is common especially after multiple pregnancies, and creates that dreaded outpouching below the belly button. Unfortunately, there is nothing a pelvic floor physiotherapist (or anyone for that matter) can do about this. Exploring body acceptance practices and embracing your new body is so important in this new stage of life. Buy new clothing that makes you feel good. Try positive self talk by looking into the mirror and telling yourself that you are beautiful! If these strategies are brand new to you, connect with a mental health professional who can help you build positive coping skills in the postpartum period.
If you have an outpouching of your stomach that won’t go away and is bothersome for you, your best bet is to meet with a pelvic health therapist for an assessment of your abdominal wall, underlying causes, and treatment options to reduce your “mom pooch.”
Note: This post is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice or treatment from your healthcare provider. Always follow the advice of your primary care provider when making decisions about your health and well-being.