Vowed to get rid of it this year?

Many moms of twins battle the floppy flap that hangs over the jeans long after the births of their babies. The “twin skin” club is exclusive and members love to share their strategies in toning the tummy. So keep talking and start crunching. Either way, misery loves company and you’ve got lots of it.

If there’s one thing any mother of multiples can testify to, it’s this: Your body is never the same after carrying more than one baby in the same pregnancy. Many complain about “twin skin;” some learn to love it, but most want to leave it behind.

Here are some of the remarks moms have made. (No one, however, was willing to have her name mentioned.)

• “I’m going to wrap it around my middle and use it as belt.”

• “I am back to a size 6… but the ‘twin skin’ just won’t shrink.”

• “I’m having a tummy tuck.”

• “Losing the 72 pounds I gained was a piece of cake—OK, a piece of carrot—but this ‘twin skin’ is impossible to budge.”

• “I have lost all my weight and no one would ever guess what my tummy looks like, but what do I do when I want to put on a bathing suit?”

• “My husband says he doesn’t even notice it. He’s the best.”

• “If you have ‘twin skin’ you have to have a sense of humor.”

• “When I lie down, it’s me and my ‘twin skin’; when I roll over, it follows me.”

Is there a solution?

Dr. Roger Goldberg, author of Ever Since I Had My Baby and researcher into the postpartum changes a woman’s body undergoes, cautions women to give themselves some time after their babies are born. “The general rule is, don’t judge from the immediate postpartum appearance,” Dr. Goldberg counseled. “Watch and wait for at least three to six months.” Dr. Goldberg explained that estrogen levels plummet during breastfeeding. When estrogen rebounds, the skin may regain some elasticity. While he says there is not any specific supporting scientific research, he bases his advice on what happens to the pelvic floor postpartum during breastfeeding: The vaginal skin becomes thinner and drier.

In moms of multiples, the ‘six-pack’ muscles can separate and spread. Only rarely, in the more extreme cases, do the muscles never fully return to midline. If you are considering a tummy tuck, Dr. Goldberg offers some very simple and practical advice about this extreme surgery: “Wait until you’ve had your last baby.” Many “twin skin” veterans swear by Pilates because it strengthens the body’s core. You will find a wide choice of Pilates videos online or on DVDs at your favorite store. Other moms say their “twin skin” tightened by simply doing crunches and modified sit-ups at home. (Avoid two-leg raises and full sit-ups; they place too much strain on your back.)

In her books Having Twins and Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Years, Elizabeth Noble offers detailed information and illustrations on prenatal and postpartum exercises—and assurance that “twin skin” need not be permanent.

She recommends that when you are expecting, you should avoid strenuous exercise, but try stretching, walking, swimming, low impact aerobics and calisthenics.

Postpartum, resume your prenatal program gradually and include isometrics and pelvic floor exercises. Noble writes: First you shorten your abdominal muscles, then you strengthen them.

Also, Noble suggests that you try hacking—a quick light chopping with the outer border of your hand—to tighten stretched skin.

Regardless of how you get your reps in, take comfort in the T’s: Tummy toning after twins is tough and tiring.

Pre-pregnancy and prenatal exercises can help you stay in shape if you don’t experience complications. Although it sometimes seems that nothing helps, a pound of prevention is often worth several pounds of “twin skin.”

Sharon Withers