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Desperate for Advise re Protruding "MAMA" Belly

(11 Posts)
Gugubuyaha Sat 25-Apr-09 20:18:03

Hi everyone on Mumsnet!

I have read your notes in a breath and have felt both relieved and saddened at the same time seeing there are so many women out there who share my prob!

I am 40 and have 2 kids of 10 years & 2 years of age.

My prob is also a "protruding belly" which I call a "divine heritage" after the 2nd baby that came with an unplanned c-sec opposed to the natural birth I had had with the 1st baby...

I had had no prob going back into my usual slim self and flat-tummy after the 1st baby... but this one cmae with a high price in my mid section... I am sick of looking still pregnant almost 2 years after the delivery...

My tummy is not too bad in the mornings (I can pull it in and fit into my jeans okey..) but it gets bloated feeling as if I have swallowed a basketball and it gets and feels hard as soon as I eat something and will stay so afterwards all day long making me look 4-5 months pregnant... Once my tummy gets bloated, NO strength of pulling in will help... I just need to go around looking bloated and pregnant... This has been so ever since the c-section day... in fact, the few days following the birth, the nurses at the hospital thought may be another baby was still in there looking at my still-7-month-pregnant-looking stomach... It has gone down substantially since, but absolutely not down to where I can say "yes, I'm back"... Not even close...

NO, I am not back... I am still looking 5 months pregnant majority of the day... And I feel depressed and desparate... Especially since I have always been a very slim person who never knew what it means to restrict herself from wearing what she just likes without worrying about any part of her body to pop out...

The strange thing is that I do not have abdominal seperation (I have tested it several times... it is less than 2 fingers width) so what is the reason of my protruding bloated pot belly?

Could anyone answer whether my case could be "extremely weak stomach muscles" which means as soon as I eat someting, there is no strength in the abdominal wall to push the full stomach inwards causing a protruding stomach... ? Such extrememly weak stomach muscles perhaps mean I need to get them strengthened with very dedicated and very long-term specific exercise?

I have also read about bowel adhesion stories, IBS stories, etc. but not sure what...

I have been doing pilates (1-to-1) for the last 5-6 weeks but cannot see any improvement yet... I know I am doing the exercises correctly and I know which movements to avoid in order to focus only on the TAs for now...

Any ideas, suggestions, comments...?

Desparate Mom of 2...

OP’s posts: |
doulalc Sat 25-Apr-09 21:09:47

Most likely a part of it is weak stomach muscles....could also be a bit of age...unfortunately. Which means you will have to work harder to get to where you want to be than if you were in your 20's. Think months instead of weeks.

What you eat and drink can play a role as well. Fizzy drinks/sodas can be notorious for causing some bloating for example.
IBS can be an issue, but do you have any symptoms? Dairy intolerance can sometimes have the same effect leading people to believe they have IBS. Cut out processed foods as much as possible, switch to whole grains instead of white.

Be consistent..it will pay off in time. Remember too that it often takes a few months of doing something different before it becomes habit so the first few months of making changes will sometimes be really hard. You might find any excuse you can to avoid working out, but you simply have to keep going. If you have a friend or family member that you can workout with that may help. You can keep each other on target. Do something, anything, every single day. Join a class if you think that will help. Take the kids for a walk. Go for bike rides. If you slip up...and you likely will....just get back on track.

MrsMattie Sat 25-Apr-09 21:12:35

Could have written your post@OP. Will watch with interest.

Chellesgirl Sat 25-Apr-09 23:56:25

*Abdominal Separation/Diastasis Recti* I think youll find you do have. As there is only a 1/2 finger width between having and not having this. And everyones fingers are a different width!iyswim. Everything you say point towards this.

The test is here for anyone who wants to use it...Do this test GuGu...if you havent already.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline—parallel with your waistline— at the level of your belly button.
3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your Rectus Abdominis muscle.

Make sure you do the test properly, so that your rib cage gets closer to your pelvis. If you just pull your head up (the lazy way) then you may be getting a false measurement.

Signs:

A small amount of separation of midline—one to two fingers’ width—is common after most pregnancies, and is not a problem. But if the gap at your midline is:
• more than 2 1/2 finger widths
• does not shrink as you deepen the work of your abdominals or
• you can see a small mound protruding at your midline.

You Can^ Recover from Abdominal Separation/Diastasis Recti GuGu, but it will take alot of work and courage been as its been 2 years since the birth of your last child. Ideally reconditioning should be started before baby is 6 months old. So if you dont see changes yet, like you say keep going.

*COMMON MYTHS* (which if anyone tells you the following, ignore)

- It causes permanent damage to your midline.
- Abdominal muscles will never flatten
- It requires surgical repair.
- The abdominal muscles will always be weaker after childbirth.
None of these statements are true!

^Abdominal Separation/Diastasis Recti:^
*What it is, and what to do about it.*

For some women, pregnancy can cause abdominal separation.Its a condition where the two right and left sides of the Rectus Abdominis—the “six-pack” muscle—spreads apart at the body’s midline.
Separation occurs in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, and pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue. Separation can occur anytime in the last half of pregnancy but is most problematic after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is weak.
Abdominal separation/diastasis recti reduces the integrity and functional strength of the abdominal wall and can aggravate lower back pain and pelvic instability. Separation in a previous pregnancy significantly increases the probability, and severity, of the condition in subsequent pregnancies.

GuGu you need to take a few special precautions during exercise and other activities.

Avoid all activities that place stress on the midline, that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall through everyday activities, exercise or inhalation techniques. Some yoga techniques can be damaging.

Some Types of Movement to Avoid (especially after a c-section)

• Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side reaches backward, such as during a tennis serve.
• Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
• Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.”
• Most traditional abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, such as crunches and oblique curls.
• All exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
• Rising from a supine position by rolling up and twisting at the same time. Instead, roll first onto your side, and then use your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position.
• Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
• Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported.

Most postnatal fitness programs advise women to 'manually splint' (tense and hold) their midlines together while performing exercises like head lifts, crunches and curls. However, reliance on external forces only will not adequately close the gap in your midline. Manual splinting can actually be inaffective if the Transverse abdominal muscle is not strengthened. Because external splinting performs the function that your deep abdominals should do, they don’t have to work, and so stay weak. If the Transverse Abdominis does not have enough strength, then the abdominal wall will bulge out(like your tummy) upon exertion, which stretches the midline and can make abdominal separation worse.

"Ideally, in all abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine, movement should be initiated in the thorax, which will pull the rib cage closer to the pelvis. The head and shoulders should stay fairly relaxed, and basically “go along for the ride.” In Pilate’s exercises, this is aptly called the “head-float position.” "
Its good to hear you have started pilates. You may find the above helpful.

After two yrs you may find that the gap between your muscles will not shrink very much but here are some exercises you can do to help:

*The No-Crunch Crunch*

To do this exercise, start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor.
Lightly place your hands just below and to the sides of your belly button. Firmly press two fingers from each hand into your lower abdomen.
Gently begin to draw your lower abdomen down towards the floor (picture a string pulling your navel towards the floor) but do not move your pelvis, raise your chest or hold your breath.
Stop drawing in your stomach as soon as you feel your muscles get tight. The muscles underneath your fingers should feel taut but the movement does not require a lot of effort. *If you move too far, you will in fact stop working your transverse abs* Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, breathing normally(in through the nose, out through the mouth) the entire time.
Do ten repetitions.

*Scissor Kicks*

To do this abdominal exercise, start by lying on the floor. Place your hands under your buttocks and keep your back pressed against the floor.
Raise one leg about 10 inches off the ground and slowly lower it back down. As you lower the one leg, raise the other.
Do three sets of ten repetitions.

*Pelvic Tilts*

Lying on the floor with your back pressed against the floor, bend your knees keeping your feet on the ground.
Slowly lift your pelvis up and hold briefly before lowering slowly back down to the ground. Your upper body should remain on the floor throughout the movement.
Do three sets of 15 repetitions.
Lifted-leg Push-up
If you’re feeling very strong in your upper body, or if you just feel like multi-tasking during your workout, then give this challenging exercise a whirl.

*Push ups*
Get into push-up position but keep your feet hip-width apart.
Raise one leg as high as you can and then do a regular push-up. Switch legs and repeat.
This is a pretty tough one, especially if you don’t have much upper-body strength, so just do as many as you can.
For an easier variation of this exercise, try this:

(the female push up, as my gym instructor used to call it)
Get down on all fours with your hands positioned about shoulder-width apart, elbows slightly bent. Your knees should be together and positioned underneath your hips. Then do the push up. Keep your back straight and dont stick your bum in the air!

Gugubuyaha Wed 29-Apr-09 12:35:50

Dear Doulalc & Dear Chellesgirl,

Thank you SO much for your great messages. Both are very informative and encouraging...
Looking at both of your messages I gather I might have both a case of IBS and some level of Diastasis Recti...

Because my stomach starts protruding outwards as soon as I eat something and I canNOT pull my hard and protruding belly in with any kind of strength then I start and remain looking pregnant for the rest of the day... Guess this might be due to both reasons...

Let me start with one more info... I carried really outward and very low with #2. He was pushing me inside so hard that it turned out to be a torture to have the baby inside in the last few months of my pregnancy.. I also put on about 20kgs which doesnt help overall.. then the baby came about 4 weeks early with an unplanned c-section. The baby couldn't suckle well after birth and I had a huge battle with breastfeeding etc. which all left me in a pretty bad case of postpartum depression as I may call it... It wasn't till after the baby was 9-10 months old that I started feeling well and normal again... I also put on about 10kgs during my struggles of breastfeeding (SO incredibly stupidly eating lots and lots of milky desserts for enhancing milk production!!! hmm.)

At the end of all, I started realising desparetely how pregnant I still look once my baby was already turning 1...

DOULAC, I do have symptoms of IBS. Firstly I have always had a condition of irritable bowels all my adult life whereby I would rush to the loo with diareutic bowels as soon as I would get seriously worried about something. And lately my condition has worsened. Irregular and disturbed bowel movements as well as probs with urinating sometimes and sense of bloating as soon as I eat something. You are SO right re frizzy drinks... I have been taking Benefiber (Novartis product) over the last 2 weeks and that has been helping greatly but I do not wish to live with such support products but want to fix myself naturally and for good...
Lately I have been quite worried about work and I am now therapying myself about stuff and try to remain calm inside in general... I think that is a major issue to manage in dealing with this prob.

And, thanks for reminding me that I need to think in "months" and not in "weeks" at the age of 40 and NO real exercise yet with a toddler! shock!!!!

CHELLESGIRL! All your technical notes are well-noted and appreciated... Indeed everyone's finger size is different and it is only about 1/2 width of finger between having DR or not... So, do you know what is the standard for finger measurement then?

I measured myself again carefully after reading your message. Indeed the gap is less than MY 2 fingers' width... One finger is in and the other one doesn't fit in completely and stays half out.

And one thing for sure I am just at the beginning of my battle with my pregnant looking tummy... I have the desire and urge to do whatever work out is necessary to get it back into shape. However though I understand I need to make sure I am avoiding the wrong movements as Chellesgirl is pointing out...

What do you think CHELLESGIRL? Is there hope that I can get my mid-section into a proper shape; without it protruding so much that I look pregnant; given my age of 40 and how late postpartum I am (so funny to call it "postpartum" with a toddler around! )

How nice that you two wrote back. Great support. Thanks so much indeed.

Gugu...

OP’s posts: |
Chellesgirl Wed 29-Apr-09 18:23:36

Hey Gugu. Yes with hard work I think it will be, but I also think you may need a postnatal trainer. If you can get a free membership for a month with one at your local gym (dont sign any papers) and get thier view in the first month then you can work from there. (a free and easy way to find out if its indeed possible)

I know how you feel about the bloated feeling , anxious feeling running to the loo [smile} ditto!

Its so annoying. Im only 21 and shouldnt be worrying so much it makes me want to S* myself! Sorry for being so technical, I used to be a dancer (which I think really helped to get back to near pre preggo body) so know all technical terms hehe.

I suffered PnD/birth trauma too but I seemed to use the exercise to get my body back -sometimes I over did it! Guess it was my dance career that did it!

Is your belly 'hard' or really squashy and wobbly when it gets bloated?

Gugubuyaha Wed 29-Apr-09 21:49:22

Hi Chellesgirl!

Thank you for your reply again!

You are almost half my age... how nice such platforms as these websites can bring such a variety of people together. If I had had my wisdom of today 20 years ago (actually even just before getting pregnant a 2nd time 3 years ago) I would have prep'ed my body with enough exercise... oh well sad...

My belly is "hard" when it gets bloated... actually... it gets quite hard when it simply gets full or full-ish... I do have some akount of fat there and some stretched tummy skin too... but you get to see that when my tummy is empty... as soon as it starts getting full, it gets hard...

There is NO post-natal trainer or such a concept where I live... I may be the first though if I can first get myself in shape and after putting together all the stuff I have been learning about shaping up your tummy after births... And NO luck with a trial membership at a gym here... sorry

I may already have some interesting news though... Since I wrote my first message over the weekend, I have come across the "plank" exercise on the internet (Vicky Warr or someone like that) and tried it in a different version, I guess called "Hover" or something like that, instead of the classical plank you lift your body on your elbows on the ground... anyway I tried this at the pilates studio with my instructor's supervision and I have been doing it everyday over the last 3-4 days
and am so impressed seeing what a superb tummy strengthening exercise... it is my favourite so far... much more effective compared to any other pilates exercise I have been doing... Since doing half planks/hovers, I can already feel my midsection feeling stronger when I pull my tummy in...

Oh, shall I see again the days when my stomach is flat naturally without the effort to make it so by pulling it in and see it protrude out again when I let go...?

To summarise the story here... apart from the possibilities of whether I have IBS, or who knows perhaps bowel adhesion or adbominal seperation of some level... I gotta get my muscles strengthened where it doesnot protrude out when I eat & drink... then I gotta lose the bit of fat there (once I lost the extra 5-6 kgs it should go away)... and then don't know what to do with the extra skin... which I don't know of how much there is... as I will see that when the tummy muscles are strong and after the fat is gone...

How lucky those who knew about keeping their tummy muscles strong before making babies...

And Chellesgirl, you are only 21 and already have a baby? How old is yours?

Cheers from Desperate Gugu Mama...

OP’s posts: |
Chellesgirl Thu 30-Apr-09 13:19:24

shes 14 months Gugu. I had her when I was 20, pregnant when 19. Cant say she was planned, on the pill (took antibiotics stupidly) changed pill numerous amounts of time and so didnt work for me smile but I have a beautiful little girl to prove for it!

The flabby skin is not easy to get rid of, and yes your right your need to start with the inner muscles first before you do anything. But once you have done at least 6 - 8 weeks of some good exercises you will notice a difference.

Again watch what you eat, and try taking some pre-biotic/pro-biotics like activia. Cut out the crap food like cake, choccie (just for now) and sweets etc... choose wholemeal instead of white carbs, and eat lots of fish/chicken for protein and lots of fresh fruit!

Drink plenty of water but dont exceed 2 litres a day, it can actually be harmful and 'drown' you.

The extra lose skin at the end may need looking at by your GP. Fat can be turned into muscle by working out and eating right, but loose skin isnt as easily fixed.
if your happy after getting some muscle tone back and still have loose skin, buy the pantyhose that hold your body together (look like cycling shorts). No one will notice. grin

hope this helps again, and good luck with the start of a brand new tummy!

Gugubuyaha Sun 03-May-09 20:33:42

hi dear! (chellesgirl)
your suggestions are all common-sense... thank-you... I am pretty conscious about what I eat but can surely perfect... I have a very strong belief that my problem is mainly extremely weak stomach muscles... I am okay that it may take months to get it fixed instead of weeks as long as I can indeed fix it... and I am about 5-6 kgs over my usual weight.. so hopefully the bit of fat on my tummy can partly go with some weight loss and the remainder I can convert into muscle and the bit of loose skin... we see when we are down to that... enjoy your baby girl... I know she is the sunshine of your life... I don't know how life was before my kiddies showed up in it!
cheers
Gugu.

OP’s posts: |
Chellesgirl Mon 04-May-09 13:34:43

Have fun Gugu, losing that 'babybelly'. Dont give up and work hard...but have some fun too dont forget. Try not to stress about it too much, your a woman at ther end of the day, and allowed to have some what of a babybelly...Take care, and best wishes...if you are finding it hard to lose the weight...more to do with the self esteem side and will power...give us a shout, ill be right here smile
x

Sawaapple Sat 24-Feb-18 04:43:10

Hello GuGu,
I know it's been a few years from your post, but I've experienced the same thing. I am also 40 and had a c-section. My upper stomach seems fine in the morning and hard towards the evening. I am not drinking sodas or having any foods that could cause bloating. It's not like anything I've experienced until now.
Any suggestions or advice are greatly appreciated!

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