How To Lose the Mommy Tummy Overhang: 5 Proven Tips

Are you struggling with a stubborn mommy tummy overhang? 

As both an OBGYN and fitness specialist, I have seen hundreds of moms frustrated with their postpartum bellies.

In this article, I will teach you:

  • What a mommy tummy overhang is,
  • How is it different from the mommy pooch,
  •  And 5 lifestyle-based tips for losing belly fat and getting your pre-baby body back.

Quick Answer

  • Getting rid of a mommy tummy overhang requires that you lower your body fat percentage. There are no special ab exercises that will help you get rid of the apron-like flap. 
  • To lower your body fat percentage, you must burn more calories than you consume. NEAT (or daily movement) helps burn calories, while resistance training increases metabolism.
  • By increasing protein and fiber, you can reduce cravings and excess calorie consumption.
  • A mommy pooch and an overhang are different. A pooch results from abdominal muscle separation and requires specialized strengthening exercises.
mommy-tummy-overhang cover image

What Is The Mommy Tummy Overhang?

The mommy tummy overhang refers to the subcutaneous fat in your abdomen that drapes over your waistline.

The mommy tummy overhang also goes by other names like:

  • Apron belly
  •  Pannus stomach
  •  Hanging belly after pregnancy
  •  Mommy overhang

How Do I Get Rid Of My Mommy Overhang?

Getting rid of the overhang belly without surgery is possible, but it takes work.

Doing hundreds of sit-ups won’t help tighten your mommy tummy. You have to take a multi-channel approach to be successful.

The only guaranteed way to lose extra fat anywhere in your body is to decrease your overall body fat percentage.

The most effective way to lose fat is through a calorie deficit.

You can create a calorie deficit by burning extra calories (i.e., increasing your physical activity) or consuming fewer calories in your diet.

At the end of the day, the belly overhang is due to excess fat and weight gain, and it just so happens that these fat cells concentrate in your belly.

5 Tips To Get Rid of The Mommy Tummy

Okay, let’s review five strategies to reduce the belly overhang.

They are:

  1. Determine if you have diastasis recti (this is a separate issue)
  2. Maximize non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)
  3. Improve nutrition by consuming more protein and fiber
  4. Reduce unnecessary calories
  5. Increase lean muscle mass with strength training

Let’s go over these in more detail.

Step #1: You Need To Determine If You Have Diastasis Recti

The first thing you need to do is determine if you have diastasis recti (DR).

Research shows that up to 60% of women will have abdominal muscle separation postpartum. You could also get diastasis recti after a c-section.

Finding out if you have DR is critical because certain abdominal exercises can make it worse. 

Exercises like sit-ups can weaken the connective tissue in the abdomen and widen the abdominal separation.

To learn more, check out How To Tell If You Have Diastasis Recti.

brittany showing how to check for diastasis recti by pressing her fingers into her abdomen

If you determine that you have DR, you should focus on closing your abdominal gap and strengthening your core muscles as soon as possible.

But in the meantime, you can also work on Steps 2 and 3 below.

Step #2: You Need To Maximize NEAT

Remember when I mentioned that reducing belly fat requires you to burn more calories than you currently burn?

You may think exercise is the only way to burn additional calories. But what if I told you that there is an easier way?

And it doesn’t involve cardio.

The best way to burn extra calories is by decreasing your sedentary time while increasing your daily activity.

If you think about it, most of us can only exercise for one hour a day (at best). Even if you exercise for 1 hour daily, you still have 23 sedentary hours.

You can only burn so many calories in that one hour of exercise.

You miss a great opportunity if you sit around doing nothing for the remaining 23 hours. (Not counting the 6-8 hours of sleep you should be getting, of course.)

That’s why you should focus on increasing your daily moving first if you live a sedentary lifestyle.

a woman with a flat-stomach-after-pregnancy with the words: 1 hour spent in the gym can be undone by 23 hours of inactivity

Five simple ways to maximize NEAT

  • Walk to as many places as you can
    • park farther away from your destination
    • take one additional flight of stairs every day
    • take a 10-minute walk every day after lunch
  • Drink a lot of water throughout the day to force you to go to the bathroom more often.
  • Set a timer and do five squats every hour that you are sitting.
  • Instead of driving everywhere, try biking to nearby destinations.
  • Try sitting on the floor for part of the day. It causes you to fidget.

Do not underestimate the power of everyday movement.

Studies show that the calories burned from this type of movement can really add up throughout the day.

This type of movement is known as NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is a fancy way of saying that your body burns calories doing everyday activities.

So, even if you don’t exercise regularly, the best thing for you to do is to take advantage of NEAT!

Step #3: Eat More Of These Two Important Nutrients

The third thing you need to do to lose body fat is to address your nutrition. While movement and exercise are important, that’s only the icing on the cake.

The number of calories you eat will always be the prime target.

The good news is that two nutrients can help improve your nutrition, control your hunger, and decrease the calories you consume.

The first nutrient is


Protein is one of the three major macronutrients you get from your diet. It is composed of amino acids that build all of the tissues in your body.

But that’s not all. Protein has a host of benefits that are beneficial to helping you lose weight.

#1 Protein has the highest thermogenic activity

  • Did you know that your body has to burn calories to digest the calories you are eating? Protein has the highest energy demand for all the nutrients you can consume.

#2 Protein helps keep you full

#3 Protein helps build lean muscle tissue

  • Lastly, protein is the critical nutrient involved in muscle protein synthesis. If you didn’t already know, lean muscle tissue is essential to fat loss. More on that later.

So, which foods are high in protein?

Protein has the highest thermogenic activity, keeps you full, and builds lean muscle tissue

Here are some healthy foods containing the best protein sources you can find.

  • Meat (poultry, beef, etc.)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
  • Dairy & Eggs
  • Soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame)
  • Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans)

And if you want to learn about Protein powder supplements, check out my post on Protein in Pregnancy.

Okay, now let’s move on to the next nutrient you should focus on, which is


Fiber needs no introduction. It is well known as a significant nutrient for health and fat loss.

Fiber is an insoluble carbohydrate. In other words, your body cannot digest fiber, so it passes through your digestive system and helps regulate your bowel movements.

Even though you don’t absorb it, fiber can:

  • slow down the rate of food absorption,
  • keep your blood sugar levels normalized,
  • help decrease hunger,
  • and regulate your bowel movements

As such, consuming fiber-rich foods can play a significant role in helping you eat fewer calories and lose fat.

So, which foods are highest in fiber?

  • Most Fruits
  • Most Vegetables
  • Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans)
  • Seeds

With that, let’s move on to step #4.

Step #4: Decrease Unnecessary Calories

Excess calorie consumption can and will erase your hard-earned efforts from steps 1-3.

It is crucial to identify where you might be consuming any extra unnecessary calories.

Once you identify them, then you can work on minimizing them.

Here are a few common examples of where you might be adding unnecessary calories.

  • Snacking throughout the day
  • Drinking juice with any meal
  • Drinking soda with any meal
  • Adding milk and creamer to coffee
  • Adding extra sauce to your meals
  • Adding extra dressing to a salad

All of these little caloric additions will add up throughout the day.

Step #5: Build Lean Muscle

The last step in the battle against a sagging lower belly is resistance training exercises.

Not just any type of exercise – I am referring to exercising to build strength and lean muscle.

To do that, you need to perform exercises that challenge you physically and mentally.

brittany performing a bent over dumbbell-row

Resistance training is the only way to build lean muscle tissue, which is SUPER IMPORTANT for health, fat loss, and overall postpartum recovery!

Lean muscle tissue is your body’s secret weapon to fat loss!

The best part?

It’s easy to get started!

All you have to do is learn the basic compound exercises. Compound exercises are movements that train multiple muscle groups at the same time. That way, you will develop more muscle and strength while burning more calories.

These exercises include:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • deadlifts
  • shoulder pressing
  • rows

These are the only exercises you need to focus on.

To get started, check out my article on postpartum strength training for new moms.

It will guide you with a week-to-week exercise routine you could follow.

But Aren’t There Special Stomach Overhang Exercises?

Unfortunately, there are no special stomach exercises to help get rid of your mommy tummy.

Studies have confirmed that you cannot spot reduce fat in the abdominal area. In other words, doing hundreds of sit-ups, crunches, or other abdominal exercises won’t help you get a flat belly.

The only way to eliminate the tummy fat is to lose fat from your entire body overall.

Also, you may or may not lose fat from your belly first. For most people, the lower belly tends to be one of the last places to lose fat.

I’m telling you this because I want to set your expectations.

Losing the postpartum tummy is not a quick or easy fix.

What Is The Difference Between The Stomach Overhang And The Mommy Pooch?

The mommy pooch refers to a bulge in the middle of your abdomen.

Unlike the overhang, the mom pooch is due to a separation of your rectus abdominal muscles, aka diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti may or may not be related to excess subcutaneous fat.

image of a woman with a mommy pooch vs a mommy tummy overhang

Why Getting Rid Of Belly Fat Is Of High Importance

I want to finish this section by discussing why you must take the mommy tummy seriously.

First of all, there are two types of belly fat.

  • Subcutaneous fat: This type of fat is right underneath your skin. It’s the fat most of us can see.
  •  Visceral fat: Visceral belly fat is deeper. This type of fat deposits itself inside your abdomen and surrounds internal organs. The fat often accumulates on the omentum, an apron-like flap in front of your intestines.

If you have a lot of lower belly fat, you may also have a lot of visceral fat.

Why is this an issue?

Visceral fat is associated with a host of serious medical co-morbidities, including:

Surgeries like liposuction or a panniculectomy (aka abdominoplasty or tummy tuck) won’t lower these health risks.

So, getting a flat stomach is not only aesthetic; it will improve your health dramatically!

Related Questions

Will my mummy tummy ever go away?

Mommy tummy does not go away on its own. You must actively work to get rid of any excess weight gain through a combination of diet and exercise.

There are also benefits beyond aesthetics. Excess abdominal fat is linked to major illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

With that said, the mommy tummy may never go away entirely, even if you lose significant weight.

What about the mommy pooch?

The mommy pooch is different from the tummy overhang. The pooch is due to an abdominal wall separation, known as diastasis recti.

But similar to the mommy tummy, the mommy pooch may not go away on its own.

You may have to follow a dedicated diastasis recti training program to strengthen your stomach muscles.

How long does it take to get rid of mommy pooch?

It depends on how severe your separation is, but you may see noticeable improvements in your mommy pooch in as little as 6 weeks.

Others might take 12+ weeks to see noticeable changes.

Do belly bands work?

Unfortunately, belly bands will not help you eliminate your stomach fat.

How can I improve discomfort from my mommy tummy?

Often, hanging belly fat can chafe and irritate the underside of your abdomen.

To help with the discomfort, you can try:

  • anti-chafing creams,
  • wearing soft and comfortable clothing, and
  • keeping the area clean and dry to prevent moisture build-up in the area.

Any tips on how to get rid of a hanging belly after c-section?

Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, there is nothing different in the approach you need to take to lose belly fat.

It is still important for you to eat fewer calories than your body burns, and for you to burn more calories than usual on a daily basis.

I cover getting rid of a hanging belly after a c-section in more detail here.

I also have 17 tips on how to lose weight, specifically for c-section mothers!

What about loose skin?

It’s not uncommon to develop loose skin and stretch marks when dealing with significant weight loss.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many great conservative / non-surgical options for extra skin.

If you decide to pursue any surgical procedures, remember that this isn’t a substitute for healthy eating!

Final Words On The Mommy Tummy Overhang

Having guided countless moms struggling with the same mommy tummy woes, I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact targeted lifestyle changes can make.

Getting rid of tummy fat takes a combination of a

  • healthy diet,
  • lower calorie intake,
  • lean muscle tissue
  • and regular movement.

If you work hard and are patient, your postpartum belly can improve over time.

Good luck!

Now I want to hear from you.

What have you tried to get rid of your sagging lower belly? Have you seen any success?

Related Posts On Losing Weight Postpartum

Written by Dr. Brittany Robles, OBGYN, certified personal trainer, and prenatal / postnatal fitness specialist.

Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!


Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.

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24 thoughts on “How To Lose the Mommy Tummy Overhang: 5 Proven Tips”

  1. Hi Brittany ,thank you for such an insightful article .it’s one of those few articles that covers both the topics so well ..well I woke up 6 years post partum enrolled in a fat loss pgm.and I’ve seen a diff in the overhang ..I just wanted to know can an overhang exist without DR too in a post partum case ? I have no separation in my muscles .. I do weight training ,stay on a calorie deficit and try and get my 10k steps each day ,take my protein ,vitamins etc too ..hope I am on the right track…

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Mohita!
      Thank you so much for the comment! You have made some amazing changes! Incorporating weight training, consuming a healthy varied diet, and getting in your 10,000 steps are keys to success. You are definitely on the right track! The most important thing to do is to stay consistent. It is perfectly okay if things go perfect 100% of the time, just pick right back up where you left off. Regarding the overhang- it definitely can exist without diastasis recti!
      Hope this helps, good luck with everything!

  2. Hi Brittany. Wonderful article which cleared a lot of misconceptions about post partum belly for me. I had a question- can I do pilates after a C-section (more than 6 months back) and will it help lose my belly ?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Hibba,

      Thank you so much for the comment! Yes, you should be able to do pilates 6 months after your c-section as long as you were given clearance by your doctor. Pilates can certainly help build a strong core in addition to consuming a healthy, nutrient dense diet!

  3. Hello Brittany,

    Your article explained so much that I did not know. I’ve had three c-sections. The last one being almost five years ago. I’m concerned that the overhang is permanent lol. Any advice? Would I ever be able to get a flat tommy?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Robin,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you found the article helpful!
      The overhang does not have to be permanent and you can certainly get a flat tummy! It will be hard work but you can do it! The most important thing is to decrease your caloric intake and burn more calories through physical activity. Resistance training can also be a great addition which will help to build lean muscle tissue, and increase your metabolism. Check out my article on How To Get Rid of Baby Fat for more information!

  4. Hi,

    Amazing article!!!! Thank you so much. Is there any meal plan you recommend – I am 5’5
    165 – I’m happy with everything except my mommy overhang belly which is basically the last to go but I have hit a plateau. Very active used to be 205 pounds but lost the weight after c section on child number 2.

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Steph,

      Thank you so much for your comment and congratulations on losing all 40 pounds!!! That is amazing!

      The meal plan I personally recommend is the nutrition guide I created for postpartum women which could be found here:

      I think of it more as a nutrition guide rather than a diet as it focuses on foods and nutrients you should add to your current meal plan rather than foods and nutrients you should avoid.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Hi…Finally I found something that made sense after searching the internet for 3 yrs. I tried bridge n few exercises for DR, but after my c section 3 yrs back, I have been facing rib pain n shortness of breath. And any kind of exercise that involves the abdomen, makes it difficult. So I gave up. I have both DR n tummy overhang. Will follow the active lifestyle guidelines u have mentioned. Thank you

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Roop,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      I am so glad you are finding the site helpful!

  6. The most helpful article i ever read in my postpartum diastasis journey. Hats off 🙌

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Syeda!

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      I am so glad you have found this article helpful 🙂

  7. Hi brittany!!

    Such helpful articles! Thank you so much!!
    I wanted to ask – I’m 2yrs post partum and I have a mommy overhang; I’m 5’1 and 110lbs – I’m having trouble getting rid of my mommy overhang but I don’t really want to do a calorie deficit since I don’t want to lose too much weight (I was close to underweight my whole life). I started exercising again – mostly running and focusing on ab workout. Is there anything else I can do to get rid of this?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Anna,

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      Getting rid of the mommy overhang can be quite difficult as it can largely be a genetic factor.

      With that said, sometimes the only way to continue lowering belly fat is to continue dropping your body fat percentage. However, it seems like you are at a healthy BMI, so losing additional weight at this point isn’t ideal.

      I would recommend continuing to make small improvements in your diet and keeping up with your exercise routine in an effort to increase your lean muscle mass percentage.

      This is definitely a long journey and patience is key!

      Hope this helps!

  8. Thanks for this article! I had my 2nd (and final) C-section 6 years ago now and my mother’s apron hasn’t budged. Is it too late for me? Just harder? I’ve tried a few times (losing 5-10lbs) and then I quit because it seems like a lost cause 🙁

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Sabrina,

      Thank you so much for the comment.

      It is never too late to improve your appearance.

      The mommy tummy can be difficult to lose as your genetics will determine the location where you gain and lose fat from first.

      With that said it seems that you have had success with weight loss before. The most important thing is that you find a plan that you can be consistent with day in day out. Consistency is everything in fitness :). It helps to start small and slowly build one healthy habit after another.

      Good luck!

  9. Hi,

    This post is really amazing.
    I am still not sure if i have DR. Actually now its been 3.7 years after C-Section. So when i checked with finger for DR I can feel the separation in tummy but I have also heard that DR commonly recover after this much time of C-section automatically. So please suggest could I still have DR ? and could only abs exercise + active all day could reduce tummy? As i have tried abs exercise and have observed bit reduction but seems after some time if i leave exercising it again came back.

    Please share your thoughts.


    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Shweta,

      Thank you so much for your email and I am glad you found the post helpful!

      It is possible you still have diastasis recti and you should have a thorough evaluation by a health care professional to ensure it is not something more serious and that exercise is okay to perform.

      And yes, living an active lifestyle by eating whole, real foods with minimal processing plus exercising will definitely help get rid of excess fat.

      Hope this helps!

  10. You have some good ideas, but I feel like there is a lot missing that hasn’t been considered or realized, and I am worried other moms will just throw up their hands and not reclaim their slim healthy lives, unless we can think about a few more pieces of the puzzle! The protocol you discuss not only sounds really difficult and really impossible for us to be normal people, but that we won’t ever again get to eat yummy food without having to turn our kitchens into a chemistry lab. So may I offer a glimmer or even huge beam of hope for us all to consider? I see that you are very educated, so take it or leave it, but it always behooves us all to consider things that may seem counterintuitive or that come at it from another angle. Ok, so here’s what I have to asd to your ideas of weight loss. I feel like it really sees the bigger picture.
    So our bodies are not machines, like they aren’t straight forward 1+1=2. We are a huge complex, biological system that has new things to discover all the time! It’s NOT just calories in calories out that makes us slim down, or we only burn that one hour we are working out, or eating less than we burn when we are active. What about building lean muscle which adds to that fat loss AND the muscle that burns calories all day and night for us? What about the fact that healthy fats and fiber fill you up quickly and keep us satisfied for longer, and so we end up not only eating less, but then also have longer periods of time between eating so our body can have that much needed longer break in between meals? Next it’s not all about eating tons of protein. That will give us serious constipation and imbalance. Yes, eat a good/appropriate amount of protein, but don’t count it or weigh it. Next, eat plenty of healthy fats. Our brain is like 60% fat. We will become airheads at least if we eat low fat. Of course it is important that the fat filled items are NOT laced with ANY kind of sugar—fructose most specifically (not attached to fiber, meaning whole fruit is excellent because the fiber brings it down to our gut to feed our food bacteria! So essential! Fructose, artificial sweeteners, honey—part fructose, and the 50 other names for sugar), since sugar blocks our LEPTIN, the hormone that tells us we are full. So things with sugar are usually easy to overeat for that very reason. And of course sugar is plain addicting for many who live for the (euphoric) dopamine drip it gives us. So things like juice, sodas, get processed but the liver as a toxin—not to mention the insulin spike, and then get turned into visceral fat, getting stored around our organs. Dr. Lustig, who cares for children with the diseases of alcoholics, says it more clearly and he’s the pro if anyone listening wants more on this. Anyhow, my husband and I solved our weight-gain by eating organic, reading labels, and not purchasing any items that contain sugar—or canola oil (which attacks the cardio system) or soy (avoiding phytoestrogens and heavily GMO and sprayed) on a regular basis. Don’t worry, we still have lots of fun with food. But it’s all made from scratch, which makes the sweets happen much less because of the time it takes to make! We make some less sweet treats—that are still amazingly yummy and satisfying—mainly for celebrations, and never keep ice cream, cookies, and all the junky snacks in the house so there isn’t the temptation. We hated it at first, but would never go back because of how amazing and happy we feel!!! Thanks!!!

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi ACS

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      These are great points and I appreciate you for sharing!

  11. I got the overhang during my first pregnancy over 10 years ago. It’s never gone away, but I don’t really diet or exercise. I might have both conditions actually (DR is probably caused by my recent 2nd pregnancy). I feel like the overhang pulls my core muscles and then I feel sore/uncomfortable in my core area. I’m slowly trying to get into exercising, but it’s been a long mental journey to push myself. Weight and eating have always been an issue since childhood.

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Ashley,

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      You should be so proud of yourself for taking this next step as it is never too late to start exercising/rebuilding your core!

      Go get em!

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