Ask Momma Bare: How To Deal With A Non-Pregnant Pregnant Belly

You can work your butt off and still be left with a tummy. Bummer.

Dear Momma Bare,

I'm not sucking it in after five live births and six pregnancies total in nine years. I'm not pregnant now; I'm 3.5 years postpartum. I'm still breastfeeding, and have been crossfitting 2.5 months now. But there's been no improvement in my gut at all.

My diastasis has narrowed. I have a six-pack under all that loose skin and flab.

It's disproportionate to the rest of my body and makes it very hard to get clothes to fit. Honestly, if clothes fit, I'd be happier with my shape and size at any shape or size. I also wear a 34G proper fit bra, which is ridiculous.

I'm 5'4" and approximately 159 pounds now. I've gained four or more pounds Crossfitting. Gaining muscle messes with your mind; you have to fight off stupid fears.

-Sarah

Oh Sarah,

Let me start of by telling our readers that I've Internet-known you for many years. And you are a kind and beautiful soul.

Secondly, let me quickly explain diastasis recti. In the most uncomplicated manner, this is the separation of the abdominal muscles—which can be caused by many things, but is often caused by pregnancy (another fun thing they don't tell you when you sign up). This separation creates a bulging that can leave you looking sort of pregnant, even if you aren't.

Bummer. Big pregnant-looking-belly bummer.

From Sarah's photos, you can see what her diastasis recti means for her physique. There are a lot of suggestions/theories/interventions to resolve it. Everything from wearing an abdominal binder to surgery. The bottom line, as we can see from Sarah's story, is that you can work your butt off and still be left with a tummy.

To reiterate: Bummer.

I can't offer a cure, sadly, but this website has some really useful suggestions for exercises and ways to move your body to help close the gap. But even they might not work. So what are you left with? The constant employ of shaper undergarments (which actually make me look more pregnant, BASTARDS) or surgery. Or live in a constant state of contracted abdominal muscles, which is both impractical and uncomfortable.

I'm strongly in the No Surgery camp (unless medically necessary, or course) for a couple of reasons. 1) If I was going to spend $5,000 on boobs or belly, I'd rather go to Hawaii. 2) I really really want to impart to my kids that our physical body, assuming it is properly functioning, is okay how it currently is, however it currently is.

That doesn't mean I don't get discouraged.

My stomach is basically a curtain for my pubic hair. Do I LOVE it? No. Not really. I'd love to say I adore it, but the truth is I find it to be A) In the way and B) Unsightly.

Am I going to "fix" it? No. And here's why. 1) It's not broken. 2) In the absence of a "fix," of which there is rarely an easy one, I feel really strongly that I have to love what I've got.

Presently "what I've got" is: breasts that have an intimate relationship with gravity, varicose veins that bear a striking resemblance to a map of the Rhine (only less European), wrinkles that tell the story of way too much squinting, age spots that make me look like someone punched me several times, and the aforementioned pubic hair curtain. All of which are exactly as glamorous as you'd imagine.

The moral of my story here (which I acknowledge may be of literally no help) is: love yourself more. It's really hard to live in a space where there aren't clear answers, but the truth is, you are more than your tummy.

You are more.

in love and cake,

Momma Bare

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