Postpartum Abdominal Shape

The Post-Partum Body
Some women experience trouble bringing their abdomen back to its original tone and size after childbirth. For most, a combination of time and abdominal exercises will work. The change in a most women's bodies is due to the laxity of the abdominal muscle wall. It is important to remember that your body has simply changed, and not necessarily for the worse. Some exercises can help your abdomen return to its original size. If your abdomen still does not seem to be returning to its original size and shape after you've give these exercises a try, you may wish to look into an actual physical reason for this.

The Exercises
If a woman is worried about abdominal stretching for cosmetic reasons and either doesn't have the financial means or the desire to have cosmetic surgery there are some exercises she can do to make her stomach smaller. A combination of deep breathing exercises, pelvic tilts, and small sit-ups or head lifts can be a big help. These should be done regularly and started as soon after childbirth as is comfortable. All of these exercises should be done slowly and smoothly. This will put the muscle to use most effectively and decrease the risk of pulling a muscle. Regular abdominal exercises such as sit-ups and crossover sit-ups, which target the sides of your abdomen, should not be done until a few weeks after delivery. A woman must also allow her abdominal muscles to heal before putting more strain on them. Any weight loss should be gradual and any exercise should only be done if it makes you feel better, not worse.

Abdominal Hernia
Women who have given birth to large babies, had multiple births, or had several children, may have actual tearing of the abdominal wall. This is called an abdominal hernia. Apart from the cosmetic reasons for choosing surgery, a woman might choose or actually need to repair the hernia if she is also experiencing pain, entrapment, or protrusion of the intestines through the opening the hernia creates. Usually a woman can feel or see an abdominal hernia as a lump in their abdomen that gets bigger when she bears down (like pushing during labor). This lump is often what is called reducible, meaning by gently applying pressure with the palm of the hand, the lump will be pushed back inside the abdomen. It is sometimes accompanied by a dull aching feeling. Abdominal hernias can become dangerous if any part of a person's intestines become trapped in the tears of the abdominal muscle. However, many people live years with abdominal hernias and experience no complications.

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