The Mummy Tummy Syndrome

by dani hemmat

Baby fat. The pooch. Mummy tummy. Middle-age spread. Different names for one thing—that belly that remains after baby. Even the slim and trim contend with that bulge that many think is the unwanted souvenir of carrying children. And the thoughts that go with it? If I could just lose that last 5 pounds…if only I did more crunches or attended more Pilates classes…then the pooch would finally leave and those flat belly days would return, right?

Wrong. That tummy that most women get after they have had kids isn’t what it seems.

It’s called a diastasis recti, and it’s an injury to the connective tissue that connects your abdominal muscles—the abdominus recti. These are the two long muscles that extend from the sternum to the pelvis and provide support for the internal organs and back. Think 6-pack abs to envision their location. These muscles have a layer of connective tissue between them that stretches to make room for baby as the growing uterus pushes the recti muscles apart. The problem? After delivery, the muscles and that tissue remain stretched out. So there’s no more support, which means that that poochy tummy is actually—gulp—your organs coming out, being held in only by that stretched out tissue. Like a plastic wrap hammock holding a cantaloupe and some oranges. Ugh.

Most abdominal work, such as crunches or many Pilates’ exercises, only makes it worse, and can even create a diastasis. That’s why getting rid of that mummy tummy feels like a long and losing battle—you sweat and work and still have that pooch.

Enter the solution—Sara Hatfield and Maternal Fitness Montana in Billings. Hatfield, a personal trainer specializing in pre-and post-natal fitness, is Montana’s only provider trained and certified in the Tupler Technique—the only non-surgical way to close that gap and heal the connective tissue.

Hatfield grew up in Billings and attended University of Montana, but has spent the last ten years in New York City, working as a personal trainer and fitness coach. Hatfield got engaged just as she was getting certified in the Tupler Technique, so she and her fiancé—also from Billings—decided to move back to their hometown to start a family, and to use her certification to help Montanans lose their bulging bellies for good. Maternal Fitness Montana helps women prepare for labor and delivery and get back into shape afterward, safely and effectively. But Hatfield says the Tupler Technique is not just for pre- and post-natal women. Hatfield also provides Say Goodbye to Your Gut Guys seminars and training for men.

“Tupler Technique is for everyone. I gave myself an exercise-induced gap, and the Tupler work has helped me to heal my own abs. Men get them too, from the constant forward forceful pressure of a beer belly or from doing ab work incorrectly. All babies are born with a diastasis, which usually closes early on, but kids who are colicky or have asthma and allergies can keep their diastasis with all that crying, coughing and sneezing. There’s no limit to who can be helped by this work.”

Hatfield, who hasn’t had children yet, learned of the Tupler Technique while she was working with her personal training clients in New York.

“I was training a lot of expectant and new moms. They always want to lose the baby weight, especially the New York moms, being surrounded by perfect, tiny models and actresses who are just infuriatingly gorgeous. The pressure to look perfect is really overwhelming there. I found that a lot of my students and clients were making their diastases worse with conventional ab work, so I implemented Julie Tupler’s work to help them.”

Wait—a personal trainer and kickboxing instructor who has not yet had children had a mummy tummy pooch?

“Yes. Little did I know that I had given myself a diastasis with my own ab work. Teaching class 6 days a week for 6 years was enough to ruin my waistline. I thought my waist was just thickening with age, but it turns out my 6-pack muscles were spreading apart because of the way I was working out. I researched Tupler’s methods, used them on myself and had amazing results, so I became licensed to provide the Maternal Fitness Seminars in Montana.”

Maternal Fitness Montana doesn’t just help people fix their mummy tummy, Hatfield says.

“Maternal Fitness is much more than that. I teach my clients better methods for pushing in labor. We work together to get strong and prepared for the marathon of labor. Kegels are important. But you have to learn how to release the pelvic floor, not just tighten it. A strong, pliable pelvic floor that has been trained properly will pop that baby out, no problem.”

Not having a baby and not concerned about your pooch or beer belly?

“My clients don’t just do this work for aesthetic reasons. A diastasis can cause severe back pain for men and women. I worked with a woman who had twins and a large diastasis. She could only hold her babies for a couple of minutes before her back would go out. She spent more time in traction than bonding with her kids. Once we put a Tupler splint on her and began the work, she dissolved into tears because her back pain disappeared. She knew that her quality of life had improved forever.”

The Tupler Technique can work for anyone at anytime, whether it’s been one day or fifty years since you’ve had babies. And for men that are tired of lower back pain and their protruding bellies, Hatfield’s training can help you close that gap and get the flat stomach and unbelievably strong core you’ve always wanted.

And the best part? You’ll never have to do another crunch. Ever again.

Contact Maternal Fitness Montana at 406.850.2858 or maternalfitnessmontana@gmail.com. Seminars will begin in October of 2010. SFM

Dani Hemmat is a writer, hula hoop fitness instructor and owner of Restore Your Core Fitness. She lives with her husband and two children, and does her Tupler Technique exercises every day. For more info, visit www.danihemmat.com