Joanna Helcke Video


Post pregnancy tummy

Spotlight on:

Sit ups and the post pregnancy tummy

Abdominal separation and the post pregnancy tummy

Why is my post pregnancy tummy squidgy?

What about the stretch marks? 

How do I get rid of my post pregnancy tummy?


For most of us, the abdominals look very different after giving birth - soft, squishy and a little distended. Where has the washbooard tummy gone? My online postnatal Pilates and wellbeing programme is designed to get your tummy flat again, building you up safely, effectively and progressively over the weeks.

Try it for FREE and you'll see the difference!



Your bundle of joy has arrived, you are now a fully-fledged member of motherhood, and your badge of honour would appear to be….. a post pregnancy paunch. Apart from the lucky few who seem to spring back into shape, most of us notice that the one bit of our body which has most changed is the tummy. It’s the post pregnancy tummy: soft and squidgy, it has little or no muscle tone and a new layer of fat seems to have accumulated on top of what had been a washboard stomach. Well, sort of.  To make matters worse, some of us even end up with stretch marks producing a streaky, purple marbled effect across the abdomen. I did!

But fear not, it really is possible to get rid of the post pregnancy tummy. Start off by taking a read through this page, and then make sure you grab a copy of your FREE Mummy Tummy Guide in the top right hand corner of this page.


Download your FREE guide in the top right hand corner


Sit ups and the post pregnancy tummy

Faced with this newly acquired, and unwelcome post pregnancy tummy, I know exactly what most mums do, and it is the following: they rummage around in their mental store of exercises  and come up with the one abdominal exercise that appears to rule the roost: sit-ups, also known as crunches or curl-ups. Go on, admit it, that’s exactly what you did, isn’t it? But now I’d like you to really listen to me and take my advice: for the majority of postnatal women, sit ups are inappropriate and can actually make your mummy tummy worse. Indeed, many of you will actually be better off doing no abdominal exercise at all than doing sit ups. Why, I hear you ask?


Sit ups

Sit ups are not right for the post natal mummy tummy

Abdominal separation and the post pregnancy tummy

Post pregnancy tummy with abdmominal separationYou may not have heard of abdominal separation but more than 60% of women have it during and after pregnancy, and it is this separation which a) is partially responsible for the post pregnancy paunch and b) means that you should NOT be doing sit ups. So what exactly is abdominal separation? I don’t want to bog you down in masses of technical information when you are trying to squeeze in a quick look at my website whilst your little one is snoozing, so here’s a brief explanation. Your abdominals are made up of 4 layers of muscle, going from the deepest layer to the outermost layer, the famous “six pack” which we all see on the cover of men’s magazines. During pregnancy this outer layer frequently separates so as to allow room for expansion as your baby grows. During pregnancy, you may have noticed that if you were lying in the bath and then got yourself out by sitting up, your abdominals pushed upwards into a very strange looking peak, like an upside down V-shape:  Ʌ. Does that ring a bell? If so, it is an indication that your outer abdominals – the six pack – separated out during your pregnancy.

This separation will still be present postnatally and you need to avoid exercises which will actively pull the separation apart and stop the outer abdominals from realigning. My FREE Mummy Tummy Guide gives you step-by-step photographed instructions for checking whether or not you have abdominal separation, as well as highlighting exercises to be avoided. 


Download your FREE guide in the top right hand corner

Why is my post pregnancy tummy squidgy?

I know that the word “squidgy” isn’t exactly very technical but I’ve had three children and I’ve also checked hundreds of women’s tummies for  abdominal separation, and I think that most of us would agree that after having had a baby the tummy feels very soft and squidgy, as if one could lose a hand in it! So the question is, why does the tummy feel like this and – even more importantly – will it ever go back to how it was? Let me start off by reassuring you that, dealt with in the correct way, the post pregnancy tummy can be got rid of. In answer to why the post pregnancy tummy feels soft, here are some contributing factors:


  • Significant abdominal separation (known as diastasis recti): if the outer layer of abdominals has separated by about 2cm or more (we usually measure in fingers, as explained in my FREE Mummy Tummy Guide) then the gap usually feels very soft and lacking in tone.
  • All the layers of abdominal muscle, as well as the surrounding connective tissue, have been stretched and weakened by pregnancy and your growing bump. Now that you have given birth, the abdominals need tightening and strengthening, using the correct sort of deep abdominal exercises for the postnatal period.
  • During pregnancy your body stores a certain amount of maternal fat to help with the production of breast milk. These maternal fat stores have to go somewhere… and the tummy, hips and bottom frequently seem to bear the brunt. When the time is right, you will be able to get rid of the belly fat but there is no rush and you shouldn’t pile on the pressure. 
  • Are you an apple or a pear? I am referring to your shape and to where you naturally store fat. Apples store fat in the upper body: round the middle, the arms and the breasts. Pears, on the other hand, accumulate fat round the hips and bottom. So depending on your body shape, you may well find yourself more or less affected by the post pregnancy tummy.

Don’t forget to get your FREE Mummy Tummy Guide in the top right hand corner of this page so that you can check for abdominal separation and make sure that you know what tummy exercises are safe and which ones to avoid.


Did you know that ,y online postnatal Pilates and wellbeing programme is specifically designed to get your tummy flat again after you've had a baby?

Try it for FREE and you'll notice the difference!


What about the stretch marks? 

For many new mums, stretch marks are part of the post pregnancy tummy package, and are caused by the sheer speed at which the bump grows in pregnancy. The skin has to stretch to accommodate this growth and sometimes tearing occurs in the dermis of the skin, leading to what look like scars – the stretch marks. They seem to be linked to collagen levels, as well as being hereditary. Once you have them, you cannot actually get rid of them but as the red colour fades and is replaced by silvery white marks, they become far less noticeable.

How do I get rid of my post pregnancy tummy?

This is, of course, the million dollar question and the answer is three-pronged:


  • You need to make sure that you are doing the correct sort of postnatal deep abdominal exercises, like the ones in my week-by-week online membership programme.

    Post natal Pilates
  • Eating the right way is absolutely key, especially when you are a busy mum who doesn’t have hours to spend whipping up complicated health-giving meals incorporating unusual, hard-to-get ingredients. My online membership has got food plans and recipes designed to be completely manageable. In the meantime, how about signing up for my FREE weekly Newsletters in the top right hand corner of this page? You'll receive all sorts of quick and easy ideas and healthy shortcuts.
  • You also need to fit in some regular cardiovascular interval training. Does that sound scarily unmanageable? I promise that it isn’t. Here’s all you need to do: go for regular power walks (2-3 times a week) with your baby in a buggy and with a couple of friends so that you can have a chat. Make sure that you include intervals where you speed up and then slow down and, if possible, try and include some hill walking. That’s it! Oh, and don't then go and have a hot chocolate afterwards!

    Buggy walking for fitness

My week by week online postnatal fitness programme gives you ev erything you need to lose the mummy tummy: abdominal-tightening weekly workouts, cardio and resistance workouts, food planning, recipes and much more...

Try it for FREE to see for yourself!



Back to top

Mummy tummy!
Here's your FREE step by step guide to checking your postnatal abdominals for separation, so that you can get rid of that mummy tummy safely

You are: