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Doctor discovers realistic exercise to help moms lose their post-baby belly


August 13, 2017

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When a doctor and a fitness coach claimed to discover an exercise that shrinks the motherhood pooch in three weeks with 100 percent success, NPR writer Michaeleen Doucleff thought she might as well try it.

What made it even more promising was that the exercise was only 10 minutes everyday. Super doable.

So Doucleff, who wrote, “I've tried to convince myself that the pooch is a valiant badge of motherhood, but who am I kidding? The pooch bothers me.” checked out the exercise to see if it’s all that it promised to be.

This is what she discovered.

You can’t get rid of the pooch without understanding what it is

The mommy-pooch is more officially known as diastasis recti, and the purpose of the exercise is to fix this post-pregnancy belly that happens to at least one third of moms. That little belly happens when your abdominal muscles split during pregnancy and don’t come back together.

Without your abdominal muscles holding back your bowels, uterus and all your other organs in there, it’s no wonder you get a little bulge. If you don’t get it with your first child, it becomes even more common with each baby you have, according to WebMD.

And not only do most women not love the way it looks — it gives you back pain as well.

So, fitness coach Leah Keller and doctor Geeta Sharma’s researched what exercise would help those abdominal muscles come back together properly. Their goal was to see if this specific exercise would help both prenatal women prevent diastasis recti and postnatal women eliminate it.

The results?

Both groups had significant improvement

Although the study was small, every single woman who was part of the study fixed their diastasis recti in 12 weeks, according to Sharma and Keller.

"We had patients that were even one year out from giving birth, and they still had such great benefit from the exercises," Sharma told NPR.

And for Michaeleen Doucleff who tried out this practice, she had similar results. After four weeks of class, they pull out the measuring tape to see if anything has changed. One woman next to her lost four inches. Doucleff herself dropped more than an inch.

“I am quite happy with the results,” she wrote. “My abs are definitely firmer. And regularly doing this exercise brought a bonus benefit: My lower back pain has almost completely gone away.”

How to get rid of your baby belly

So what exactly is this magical exercise?

Doctors approve the Tupler Technique or Keller’s Dia Method (you can pay to be trained online), but this is how the exercise was described by writer Michaeleen Doucleff, who went to a training class from Keller:

Sitting on the floor cross-legged, with our hands on our bellies, we all take a big breath. "Let the belly fully expand," Keller says.

And then as we exhale, we suck in our belly muscles — as far back as they'll go, toward the spine. "Now we're going to stay here near the spine. Hold this position," she says.

Then we take tiny breaths. With each exhale, we push our stomachs back further and further.

This exercise must be done 10 minutes everyday.

Make sure your exercise is not making it worse

Keller also warns that there are certain exercises that women do to attempt to lose that belly that are actually damaging their chances.

"You have to be very careful," she told NPR. "For example, please don't ever again in your life do crossover crunches or bicycle crunches. They splay your abs apart in so many ways."

Have you had diastasis recti? What did you do to get rid of it? Or if you’re chosing to keep it, why?

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