Although it might be hard to believe that any woman can have visible abdominal muscles after giving birth, it does happen and it isn't by magic or luck.
I am always so impressed when I meet a fit woman who has had one or multiple children. The human body is so amazing and the changes the body undergoes during pregnancy are even more fascinating. The degree to which organs are squished and/or stretched is incredible.
Skin and tissues (including muscle) in the body are elastic. We can think of these tissues as rubber bands. When the integrity of a rubber band is solid and strong, it can be stretched for a period of time but will return back to its resting length once the tension is no longer applied. If the rubber band is really old or has been kept in a stretched position for too long, the elasticity has been compromised and it will often remain stretched even after there is no longer any tension being applied.
Often, when one loses a lot of weight after years of being overweight there will be a lot of loose skin dangling. Similarly, some women experience loose abdominals that seemingly sag, giving her the appearance of still being pregnant, after she has delivered.
Having a baby is challenging enough without the fear of losing your pre-baby body. Your hormones are elevated, physiologically your body is experiencing major changes, and lastly, your whole lifestyle changes once this new life emerges.
Women who exercise regularly, more specifically who lift weights regularly, before, during, and after pregnancy are significantly more likely to return quickly to their pre-pregnancy body. Why? Because women who lift weights are strong so their muscles and connective tissue are naturally pulled back to their original resting length with ease. Those muscles have essentially been encouraged before, throughout, and after pregnancy to return and remain strong. Women who make regular exercise a priority before conceiving and continue throughout their entire pregnancy will bounce back faster than those who do not.
My favorite part of this super fit pregnancy story is that my friend was 35 when she delivered her daughter. It is my favorite part because it could easily be argued that a 25 year old would have visible abs after delivering, and this shows that age doesn't necessarily dictate your experience of pregnancy. She lifted weights regularly long before she became pregnant and continued that practice throughout her pregnancy. 6 weeks postpartum, she returned to regular weight lifting and has since continued.
She has always been a fit person so it didn't surprise me that she looked amazing as soon as she delivered, but the fact that her abdominal muscles were visible only 4 months after delivering really illustrates the impact exercise has on the body in a way that other examples don't. The body is pushed to extreme limits during pregnancy, so knowing that you do have some control over what can happen physically is very exciting and encouraging for all women who know they want to become mothers in the future.
The absolute best advice I can give any woman who knows she wants a family some day or who is currently pregnant, is begin exercising as soon as you can! Do not put it off and if you have trouble motivating yourself or need guidance concerning appropriate exercise selection, invest in yourself and work with a coach who you feel connected to because it will change your whole life in many ways, including ways you never expected.
Julia Broome is passionate about health and exercise but is most excited about educating women concerning the short and long term impact of exercise on pregnant women and their baby.