I spend a lot of my time working with mums to restore their pelvic health and confidence after they’ve had a baby. Many of them are desperate to have abs. A rock-hard tummy, the six pack they never had before kids. Who doesn’t want one?! Now I’m a big fitness fan – your body was made to move and greatly benefits from exercise. But just focussing on the end result can lead to problems. How you get there is very important.
Let me tell you about a lady I saw a while ago, we’ll call her Katy. Katy was referred to me by her gynaecologist because she’d been having some discomfort down below – she was finding she needed to wee a lot during the day. We had a chat and she told me that sex with her husband was uncomfortable. Talking about private matters can be difficult, and as Katy opened up she told me her story – one I hear often.
She decided to do a January Abs challenge. She was a busy working mum of 3, her youngest daughter was 2 years old and she was desperately embarrassed by her tummy. She felt fat and unfit. Every morning she’d been getting up early to do 100 situ ups, Russian twists and leg lifts. When her tummy didn’t get any less wobbly AND she started leaking urine she just felt worse and did more…
Katy didn’t realise but she had succeeded. She had a six pack. But her abdominals – and her pelvic floor – were so tight all the time that she was leaking urine and it hurt to have sex. It didn’t take long to put this right – and she kept her six pack. All she needed to do was to train clever and follow my advice on releasing her pelvic floor muscles.
The reason she got into this mess was focussing her training on just her tummy muscles. Doing sit ups doesn’t make your tummy flatter – general weight loss is the way to a smaller tummy postnatally. Often after a baby your deep core isn’t strong enough (yet) to do repeated sit ups, it can cause more harm than good. Pilates and Yoga are a great place to start. Then “training your abs” becomes part of your fitness routine, not a focus of it – doing squats, lunges, bridges and balance work all strengthen your abs anyway!
Anyway, new mums, you just made a human! Love your wobbly tummy, you’re a supermum. Remember all the ads are airbrushed and the models probably aren’t new mums. You can get that great flat tummy and strong core – it took 9 months to make a baby, be kind to yourself and give it time. Do it safely. Chat to me if you want to know more.