Health and Fitness

How digestive issues contribute to “Mummy Tummy”

How digestive issues contribute to “Mummy Tummy”

There has been so much talk lately about “mummy tummy”, and what people are generally referring to is diastasis recti, also known as abdominal separation. This happens during pregnancy, when your body needs more space for your growing baby, causing your connective tissue down your front midline to stretch.  After the baby comes, this can leave you with what feels like a big gap between your abdominal walls.  At this point you would work with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and a knowledgeable personal trainer to restore function, and possibly even close the gap (although function is the main goal).

What most women worry about is that their tummy will never appear to be “flat” again after a baby.  This is understandable.  We all want to feel and look our best.  As I mentioned above, if you work with the right professionals, you can definitely restore your core, but rehab and exercise are not the only pieces to this puzzle…

As a fitness professional, I have done hundreds if not thousands of body composition assessments over the years.  Usually a large waist circumference connects to body fat in the area, but with one particular client, I was stumped.  I did a fitness assessment on a client who always had the smallest amount of fat in her abdominal region, but her waist circumference would go up and down by up to 4cm at a time!  How could this be???

It wasn’t until I put my holistic nutritionist thinking cap on that I came to realize that what was happening was nothing more than abdominal distention... Bloating! Imagine you have a core that has been stretched out from the midline, and then you have swollen intestines pushing against it.  This will create a rounded tummy look, no matter how much fat you lose or how well you restore your core function! If you push into your tummy and it pushes back at you, it’s not fat, it’s distention.

So what do we do about it? 

We need to find the root cause, which can be a number of things.  Usually the first plan of action is to remove all inflammatory foodsfrom your diet, and foods that always make you feel digestive upset.  These are things like gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy and other legumes, and alcohol!  If something doesn’t agree with your body, remove it! The pain is your body trying to send you signals to make a change!

But what about those who are ALWAYS bloated no matter what they eat?  This sounds more like a stomach acid issue.  To make a long story short, when your stomach acid is low, it has a cascade effect on the rest of your digestive tract leading to a state of constant inflammation and bloating! You can help to stimulate stomach acid production a few different ways.  You can take a diluted shot of apple cider vinegar before meals, or conversely you can take a digestive enzyme or digestive bitters.  Work with a naturopath or holistic nutritionist that can help you figure out what’s best for you!

Finally, we need to think about how well the bowels are eliminating frequently enough.  If your bowels aren’t moving daily, you will have a buildup of fecal matter in your digestive tract causing that rounded look in your tummy.  If you are constipated, try adding 2 freshly ground tablespoons of flax seeds into your diet daily, make sure you’re getting enough water, not too much meat, and tons of cooked veggies for ease of digestion.

Are you dealing with Mummy Tummy? Download this free 5 Step Blueprint to Healing Your Body After Pregnancy and Childbirth here.

Stephanie S Follow

Stephanie is a holistic health coach, working with fitness and nutrition to help new and expecting moms thrive in health, prepare for, and recover from childbirth. Stephanie’s approach is functional and holistic in nature. Her services include private and group personal training in Toronto, nutritional counselling, as well as online courses. To learn more, visit www.stephaniesibbio.com.

You can also find Stephanie's Mom & Baby Fitness Program at fueltrainingclub.ca/fuel-moms. This strength and conditioning program is a safe and effective way to improve your fitness while addressing postpartum conditions.

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