Avoid the post-pregnancy pooch with a few moves

'Mommy belly' exercises you do before the baby comes


Diastasis recti is a condition that may develop during pregnancy. A lot of us know it as "mommy belly" or the "post-pregnancy pooch." It occurs when the abdominal wall separates after the baby is born and the resulting "pooch" cannot be eliminated by weight loss.

Melissa Hendricks, a certified fitness instructor at Cleveland Clinic, says there are ways to battle "mommy belly," but the fight starts long before your little one arrives.

"Making sure we are doing small abdominal exercises that can help us to support our abdominals throughout the entire pregnancy and then after," said Hendricks.

Hendricks says you don't have to do hundreds of crunches or tons of planks to strengthen your abdominals.

She suggests something called "abdominal bracing", which you can do anytime, or anywhere. Hendricks says to breathe normally, tighten your abs, hold it for 15-20 seconds, and then let them go.

You can also lie on your back, lift your heels, and tap them on the ground will also help. Or, lie down and do back raises. lifting your hips off the ground will help to strengthen your abs.

Hendricks says combining these exercises with a little walking can do wonders for your mid-section. The other nice thing is they won't take up a lot of time.

"So, you put the baby down or put the baby down for a nap and you can go do five minutes of exercise. That's all it's going to take," she said.

Hendricks says kegel exercises and yoga may also help. If you're unsure as to how to do the exercises properly, consult a fitness expert. Hendricks also recommends consulting your doctor before starting any exercise regimen, especially when you're pregnant.