Carrying a child can be one of the greatest experiences of a woman's life. Those nine months can also be tough on her body.
"As the baby is growing, the abdominals stretch, and the stretching can cause the rectus abdominis, or what you think of as your six pack abdominals; there's a tendon in between and it will stretch. Once the baby is born, that pressure to stretch isn't there anymore and it'll usually go back on it's own," said Kate Fether, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Marquette General Therapies.
Sometimes those muscles don't go back after the baby is born.
"The term for that's a Diastasis Recti and that can last even for years, and it's really pretty easy to treat," Dr. Fether added.
As a result, women, like patient Kari Sherry, form an unwanted baby bulge after giving birth.
"That tummy that I had, I looked about four months pregnant when I was about two years post partum," said Sherry.
The mother of two said she had strongly considered getting a tummy tuck but wanted a less invasive route.
Kate Fether, Doctor of Physical Therapy, is also a mother. She uses a program called the Mummy Tummy to target and treat Diastasis Recti.
"You basically use a way to approximate or bring together those muscles, and then you do exercises to target certain abdominal muscles," Fether explained.
Sara Edlebeck, Doctor of Physical Therapy, UP Rehab Services in Iron Mountain, uses the Mummy Tummy method with her patients. She says 30-40 percent of all pregnancies result in Diastasis Recti; however, it's never too late for women to regain muscle strength after giving birth.
"The important thing to remember is they don't have to come to me right away, post partum. A lot women will finish having kids and then they'll come several years later," said Edlebeck.