Before & After: Started with an 8-finger separation
One of the most amazing and beautiful realities for a woman is the ability to create life. A woman’s womb is the place that gives us, as parents, the most beautiful of gifts. Unfortunately, this gift can come at a price, as a woman’s body undergoes many changes, some of which leave us with healing to do — physically, mentally, and often both.
For one, the belly expands during pregnancy to allow room for the baby to grow.
After birth, the belly and body attempt to return to a somewhat pre-pregnancy state. Sometimes, however, this doesn’t happen and we are left with a ‘Mommy pooch’.
Although this appears to be solely a cosmetic ‘flaw’, it’s actually a lot more than that. The saggy skin and stomach bulge
can indicate that Diastasis Recti (or abdominal separation) is present, which is something at least 60% of American moms will experience.
Many women are told by their doctors that surgery is the only way to get rid of a mommy pooch, but this is not true. Not only is it possible to heal — but it’s possible to heal without resorting to surgery. Read on to find out how…
What exactly is Mommy Pooch A.K.A Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti — also known as rectus abdominis diastasis — occurs when a significant gap forms in the rectus abdominis muscle (the main muscle that runs down the center of the stomach).
The gap usually occurs when a high level of pressure is placed on the linea alba (or fascia) in the stomach, which occurs during pregnancy. This pressure causes stretching or tearing of the linea alba and ultimately creates an abdominal separation, or gap.
A gap of 2-fingers or more generally qualifies as Diastasis Recti and will result in a ‘mommy pooch’, but can cause a variety of other uncomfortable symptoms — back pain, GI issues, pelvic floor issues (such as heaviness or bulging in the vagina), a hernia, and the inability to engage your core and return to a normal exercise routine.
After sharing some background on the origin of a mommy pooch, we think it’s important to also note that the body is always striving towards homeostasis, and works hard to support the body in healing.
This means the gap is not meant to stay for long. However, it doesn’t close on its own for every woman. In fact, it’s more common than not for the gap to remain until proactive effort is made to heal and close the separation.
And it’s probably the last thing you want to think about or worry about when caring for a new baby or toddler. We understand the frustration, overwhelm, and sadness this can cause you as a mom. Even more, you might not have support from your partner or family and friends during this time, which of course, is a major travesty.
Given all the potential symptoms and emotional distress that can accompany a Diastasis Recti, women may feel drawn to have a surgery. But this is not the safest option, nor is it guaranteed to work.
To illustrate this point, one review looked at 7 studies performed on patient satisfaction following a Diastasis Recti surgery.
Women reported that “the most common complication seen was the development of a seroma. Other common complications included haematomas, minor skin necrosis, wound infections, dehiscence, post-operative pain, nerve damage and recurrence – the rate of which may be as high as 40%.”
In addition to these health risks, side effects, and the high rate of occurrence, there is also an emotional burden. While 6 weeks of rehab lying on your back doing nothing might sound like a dream to busy moms, the reality is this is a stressful and emotionally difficult time for loved ones because you are not able to help or be there for them like you are used to! Then of course, there’s the physical pain associated with any big surgery.
Fortunately, there ARE safe and effective alternatives.
Healing Mommy Pooch Naturally with MoonRise
6-finger separation after 2 pregnancies, age 34
MoonRise works with Caroline Johnson; THE leading health practitioner in the US helping women heal abdominal separation without surgery. Our ‘No Surgery System’ program delivers results in as little as 12 weeks — even for women with an 8-10 finger separation — check out our before and after pictures here.
Working with Caroline and our Diastasis Recti Program, you will learn to heal yourself naturally. We teach you mind, body, and lifestyle-based practices to get rid of a mommy pooch, as well as give you 1-2-1 access to not only Caroline, but the opportunity to connect with other MoonRise customers on their Diastasis Recti Healing journey. Let’s look at some of those practices in detail.
1. Proper Nourishment
What you consume has an important role to play in eliminating the stomach bulge and flattening and toning your belly.
As mentioned above, the linea alba, (or fascia), becomes over-stretched and damaged as the stomach expands when you are pregnant. One very critical way to repair this damage is by consuming collagen — which is essential in rebuilding connective tissue in the body. When you consume collagen by drinking bone broth, or use collagen powder, it strengthens the linea alba and helps close the abdominal separation.
How you nourish yourself, however, is more than just consuming the right foods — it’s also about breathing consciously, moving your body consciously, talking to yourself lovingly, getting fresh air and sunlight, minimising screen time, etc.
When you’re able to nourish your mind and spirit, as you do your body, this is where true healing takes place.
2. Mommy Pooch (Safe) Exercises
It is possible to get rid of mommy pooch and alleviate many of the symptoms associated with it through a series of safe exercises. Generally, these exercises, accompanied by eating nourishing foods and beverages, can really help reduce abdominal separation.
And again, it’s not only about looking better without the pooch, it’s about feeling more active and safe in your body!
So, what are these exercises that help to close the abdominal gap? We’ve found that exercises like transverse holds and transverse squeeze & releases, along with learning ways to reduce Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP) in everyday movements can help reduce the separation between the abdominal muscles by strengthening the connective tissue in this area.
The right kinds of breathing exercises can also help you get rid of mommy pooch. These breathing exercises help strengthen the thoracic diaphragm at the top of the abdominal area — the sheet of muscle that expands and contracts the chest during inhalation and exhalation. This can help increase the overall strength of the abdomen and reduce the effects of abdominal separation.
Also, it’s important to note that some favorite mommy pooch exercises like planks, sit ups, and strength training exercises can potentially create more pressure or discomfort in the abdominals. However, if you love these exercises and feel good when doing them, then do what feels best and right for your body.
On the other hand, if you ever have questions about these exercises or want to explore other ones while healing DR, we recommend speaking and/or working with a Diastasis Recti Specialist.
3. Mind-Based Practices
You may have heard of the mind-body connection. There’s been a ton of research in this area and in short, this concept proves that the mind and body are inextricably linked. So if you are feeling stress, have limiting beliefs or lots of negative thoughts, this impacts the physical health and well-being of your physical body.
Given this understanding, we know how important the mind is in the healing process. Which is why using mind-based practices and exercise are a great way to heal Diastasis Recti.
Some of these practices and exercises fall within the methods of yoga, meditation, visualisations, emotional release, affirmations, and more. And you can apply one or several of these methods during times of anxiety, stress, or symptom flare-up.
Get rid of Mommy Pooch for Good!
Whilst living with a mommy pooch or opting to get surgery may be the best options for some women living with Diastasis Recti, a personalized program led by expert professionals is one of the most sustainable, safe, and effective choices available today.
A program designed for you and your specific needs can get to the root cause of the mommy pouch, which again, is damaged or scarred linea alba (a.k.a. the fascia specifically in your abdomen).
To heal naturally, it’s important to work with someone who understands this first and foremost. And for that professional to teach you DR-safe exercises and guide you in what exercises to avoid while working on closing the abdominal gap.
So, although there is no quick fix — no magic way to get rid of mommy pooch fast — there are real, tangible steps you can take. All you need is the right support and guidance and you’ll get there.