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Doming – what is doming of the tummy?

It can be very alarming when you see your stomach suddenly appear pointed but it is pretty common and nothing to seriously worry about however your want to avoid it happening where possible. In this blog I will dive into what doming is, what causes it and how to prevent it.

Jump to each section bullet points

What does abdominal doming look like?

This image was kindly given to me by a Mama in one of my fellow mum FB groups.

It can be like this, or more pointed. As with everything related to pregnancy and bodies, each one is individual and different!

What is doming in pregnancy and is it bad?

Doming occurs when excessive pressure is exerted on your abdominal muscles during certain movements, resulting in a pronounced, pointed appearance of the stomach and it should be avoided where possible. There are a number of things you can do to to prevent it.

Not only can you see it but you can sometimes feel it pulling or tugging as you sit up or lie down. While it can happen at any point in your life, you are more prone to it during pregnancy and in the postnatal period. As your baby grows bigger it pushes your abs apart causing Diastasis Recti and when you do anything that applies too much pressure, your tummy appears to dome.

What causes doming in your abs?

As your baby grows bigger it pushes your abs apart causing the linea alba (the connective tissue between rectus abdominis) to stretch causing diastasis recti. Once stretched it can cause a bulging/doming appearance of the tummy when too much pressure is exerted.

If you see this there is nothing to be alarmed by but you want to avoid anything that causes doming because it puts more stress on the linea alba and increase the diastasis (where the abs are coming apart).

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the linea alba stretches causing the left and right sides of the rectus abdominis to separate. It can happen at any time but is far more likely to happen when you are pregnant due to the growing size of the baby.

Signs of doming

How do you know if you’re experiencing doming? Look out for these signs of doming:

  • Pulling or tugging feeling in your abs as you lie down or sit up.
  • Your stomach taking on a ‘pointy’ appearance.
  • When you engage your abs by making a ‘ssss’ sound and there is no tension in the linea alba.

The importance of addressing doming

Addressing doming, is crucial, first and foremost, neglecting to address it can lead to potential complications and discomfort. Diastasis recti can contribute to back pain, pelvic floor issues, incontinence and compromised core strength, affecting overall physical well-being. Beyond the physical aspects, the emotional and psychological toll of dealing with doming should not be overlooked. Many individuals experience frustration and a sense of disconnect with their bodies, affecting self-esteem and confidence. Addressing doming goes beyond cosmetic concerns; it’s about promoting holistic well-being, ensuring both physical and mental health during the postnatal period.

How to prevent doming during pregnancy

To prevent doming during pregnancy, it’s crucial to prioritise core strength and pelvic floor stability. Engaging in gentle exercises specifically designed for pregnant women, such as the Pre-Mama Plan and pregnancy yoga classes, can help strengthen the abdominal muscles without putting excessive strain on the linea alba – the connective tissue that runs down the centre of the abdomen. Focus on exercises that promote overall stability and proper posture. Additionally, being mindful of body mechanics during daily activities is key; avoid heavy lifting and instead use proper body mechanics, such as bending at the knees and keeping the back straight.

Exercises to prevent doming

Let’s make this fun, jump up and lets get moving! I’ve rounded up some pregnancy-safe exercises to help you build a strong core. Exercises that you can do in your pjs or that would fit right in at the gym, I’ve got you covered. The best type of exercise is the exercise that you actually do and that applies to when you are pregnant too. Who said exercise can’t be enjoyable?

Quick heads-up before we dive in: remember to activate your core – it’s key! Take a deep breath in, exhale and engage your core by making a ‘ssss’ sound, and then do the exercise. All set? Awesome, let’s get moving!

1. Pelvic tilts in box

How to

  1. Get into box position on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, gently tilt your pelvis downwards, Imagine you’re trying to flatten your lower back. This movement should feel like you’re rocking your pelvis forward.
  3. Hold the tilted position for a few seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back. Then, release and return to the starting position.

2. Standing crunches

How to

  1. Place your hands lightly behind your head, with your elbows pointing outwards.
  2. Lift your right knee while simultaneously bringing your right elbow towards it, aiming to touch or come close to it.
  3. As you do this, keep your chest lifted, and avoid rounding your back.
  4. Lower your right foot back to the ground and switch to your left knee and left elbow.
  5. Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner to avoid jerky movements.

3. Fire hydrants (alternate sides)

How to

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Gently engage your core muscles to support your back and stabilize your spine.
  3. Keeping your knee bent, lift one knee off the floor aiming for a 90-degree angle.
  4. Hold the lifted position for a second or two. Lower your knee back down to the starting position.

4. Kegels

How to

  1. The first step is to identify your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way to do this is imagine you are stopping the flow of urine midstream. The muscles you use to do this are your pelvic floor muscles.
  2. To do a kegel, contract your pelvic floor muscles. You should feel a lifting sensation in your pelvic area.
  3. Hold the contraction for about 5 seconds (or as long as you can comfortably) and then release. Rest for about 5 seconds between contractions.
  4. Aim to do 10 kegels, 3 times a day if you are pregnant. The best way to remember is to link it to a habit you are already doing e.g., once after you workout, then when you brush your teeth morning and evening.

Lifestyle changes for preventing doming

Let’s talk about your day-to-day activities. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, working from home, or running about on toddler duty, paying attention to your posture is key – keeping our heads held high, chin in, shoulders back and core engaged while we are living normal life will work wonders. We can do all the exercises we want but there are a lot of hours in any given day when we are not officially exercising so it makes such a difference to be aware of your posture in these hours. One thing I find really helpful to remind me to keep my core engaged is to wear a crop top and leggings around the house. When your stomach is out its much easier to remember to keep it engaged compared to when it is covered up and hidden away!

We all know that lifting heavy objects during pregnancy isn’t ideal, but let’s face it – life happens. When you do need to lift something, use your legs rather than your back. Bend your knees, keep the object close to your body, and engage your core before lifting. This technique takes the strain off your abdominal muscles, preventing unnecessary pressure and reducing the risk of doming.

Finally, let’s talk about the importance of being in tune with your body. Pregnancy is a unique journey for every woman and each baby, and what works for one may not work for another. Pay attention to how your body responds to different activities. If you feel discomfort or notice any signs of doming, it’s crucial to address them promptly.

Remember, it’s the small, mindful changes in your daily routine that can make a significant impact. By incorporating these exercises, proper lifting techniques, and tuning in to your body, you’re taking proactive steps to prevent doming and have a stronger body and a more comfortable pregnancy.

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