The mummy tummy. It’s something that every woman who gives birth must face. Some wear it as a badge of honour, while others can’t wait to get back into pre-pregnancy shape. If you’re keen to ditch yours, never fear, there are plenty of things you can do post-birth to help minimise the MT. But remember, take things slowly and don’t stress about getting into your skinny jeans before the month is up.
Buy a belly band
It’s a technique steeped in history, as belly binding has been practised for centuries in different cultures around the world. The western world has finally caught up, with the birth of the Belly Bandit, a stretchy tummy band worn immediately after childbirth, flattening your tummy and supporting your back. Loved by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani and Halle Berry, it also cleverly hones your figure, making you look mummy tum-free in your clothes.
Not only is breastfeeding best for your baby, but it also helps you get rid of your mummy tummy, too! It’s all thanks to a hormone known as oxytocin, which is released every time you breastfeed. Oxytocin (often referred to as the ‘love hormone’), causes the muscle cells in your uterus to shrink, helping your stomach get back to its usual size.
Practice pilates and yoga
While regular sit-ups won’t help you regain your flat tummy, exercises that work your core, or deep abdominal muscles, definitely will. Once your doctor has given you the OK to start exercising again, sign up for a pilates or yoga class (remembering to mention to the instructor that you’ve recently had a baby). “You need to strengthen your deepest muscles before addressing the outer layer,” says Francine St George, sports scientist, physiotherapist and author of Bodyworks.
Improve your posture
Learning how to access your core muscles means you’ll be able to help flatten your tummy when you’re pushing a pram, walking the dog or talking on the phone. “Just pushing a wobbly trolley around the supermarket will give your core muscles a workout. Your core gives you strength in everyday life. That’s why it’s so important,” says Michelle Bridges, personal trainer on The Biggest Loser and author of Cut The Fat (Penguin).
Nap around your baby
While lack of sleep goes hand in hand with having a new baby, it also causes hormonal imbalance, which has been proven to bloat your stomach rather than flatten it. Fight this by trying to rest when your baby does, along with keeping your stress levels in check. “A lack of sleep caused by stress is a double whammy. Basically, when you’re not happy, your gut isn’t happy,” says Andrew Cate, author of the H Factor Diet (ABC Books).