Post-Pregnancy Overhang – Here’s Why Your New Belly Is Beautiful
One Google search about your post-birth body will automatically direct you to articles about stretch marks and other pregnancy-inducing lumps and bumps. Whether it’s about embracing them or getting rid of them, the internet is brimming with tips on how to banish those battle scars that so many feel ashamed of.
But what about all the other little bodily quirks that bearing a baby can cause? The infamous belly ‘overhang’ – or ‘apron belly’ as some call it - seems to have affected most birthing people that we have come across, yet it’s very rarely spoken about. Whether it’s excess skin from having it stretch so much in such a short space of time, or a lack of muscle strength due to a caesarean section – most of the time, it’s there – and we’re here to tell you that it’s absolutely beautiful!
Scientifically, the overhang, or ‘pouch’ of skin that now hangs down and makes you feel like a kangaroo, is caused by a combination of weight gain and muscle separation – two things that naturally happen during pregnancy to nurture and make way for your growing baby. More specifically, the muscles that separate to accommodate your growing uterus during pregnancy are bound together by very thin ‘connectors’ that allow your body to transform and grow. After these connectors and muscles have been stretching constantly for 9 months straight, it’s impossible for them to bounce back to their original strength and position straight away, and they leave the abdominal wall looser as a result.
Research shows that over half of birthing people experience this ‘problem’. It’s even more common in those that have given birth multiple times, and can ‘worsen’ after every baby that you have. After conducting some research on how to ‘get rid’ of it, it seems that the only option is losing extreme amounts of body fat (the last thing you’re thinking about when you are demand feeding, sleep deprived or running around after a toddler), or resorting to a costly tummy tuck. On average, women gain between 10 and 15 kilograms during pregnancy, and while some of this might be made up of baby – the rest hangs around and is a little harder to shift.
But what is so problematic about the visual proof that your body has created a human being? Your body has managed to grow – and morph around – a beautiful child, and surely that should be celebrated? It’s totally OK to feel uncomfortable in your new body. It’s OK to miss your abs, your core strength and indeed – your strong pelvic floor. But those things are reminiscent of your existence without your child, and is a tiny price to pay for what you have gained. It’s OK to feel ‘different’ to before. And despite all of the mummy influencers that you see on Instagram with perfectly toned, stretch mark-free stomachs, it’s also OK to accept it.