A pannus, commonly referred to as an apron belly or mother’s apron, is a flap of excess skin, tissue and fat that hangs at the bottom of the abdomen. It’s not uncommon for people who are very plus size, have rapidly lost a lot of weight, or have had many babies to have an apron belly. It also isn’t something that a woman should be ashamed about but it often causes more emotional than physical distress. So we’re going to talk about it and if you have an apron belly, please know that you are not alone!
When you Google “apron belly” you mainly get tips on how to change your body – from weight loss (that often makes an apron belly hang lower but look more deflated) to surgery (that’s not an option for many due to insurance or financial limitations). This article isn’t about changing your body. It’s about how to live with an apron belly and feel more comfortable on a daily basis!
Like a B Belly, an apron belly can be emotionally difficult for plus size women to have. Yet, unlike a B Belly, an apron belly can be a great source of discomfort.
Anytime there is skin-to-skin contact, like underneath large breasts for example, you need to be cautious with any build up of moisture and sweat because the skin there can become easily irritated. It’s really important to keep an apron belly clean because heat rashes, skin ulcers, and skin tags can occur due to the constant dampness in that area.
One of the best ways to keep an apron belly clean is during your usual shower routine. The use of a shower brush or hand-held showerhead can be very helpful to thoroughly clean under the fold. Following a shower, use extra time and care to make sure you get your skin completely dry. Using a hair dryer on cool can help an apron belly to get fully dry.
Then, depending upon the size of the apron, you might use pads or powders (anti-fungal powders are best) to keep the area dry for the duration of your day. Coconut oil is anti-fungal and can be soothing under an apron belly. Please note that cornstarch powder shouldn’t be used because it can cause yeast infections. Some women have shared that a plus size maternity support belt or band can help to alleviate discomfort.
Most importantly I think it’s important to know that you’re not alone!
Below you’ll read quotes from community members in our Plus Size Mommy Memoirs private forum sharing their tips for hygiene, clothing options, intimacy, and more! Many suggestions will have links provided to products and images you can click on. Please note that it’s a good idea to check with your care provider before using any products you’re unfamiliar with.
It’s a change I bear that reminds me of the daughter I bore. Unfortunately, it means I can’t wear what I wore. – Beth
This group finally gave me a name to my apron belly never thought of it technically, just have had it for years due to being pleasantly plump! – Janice
I just always called it my FUPA lol – Heather
My personal experience with this started after having my first daughter. I had always been big but my skin was tight not a hanging flap until after I gave birth. Then my body changed and I hated the way it looked now. I would wash under it every time I used the bathroom at home because sweat collected there. I began to no longer love myself.
Then I joined a moms group in our area and there were only 3 bigger moms there. I felt so out of place until one day one of smaller moms started complaining about her hanging skin and about 5 other smaller moms chimed in saying they had the same issue. That day I realized it wasn’t from me being fat that I had the hanging skin it was from me bringing this beautiful life into this world and that I wasn’t something that I suffered through alone. That day I began to love myself again. I don’t chose to hide my body anymore, its the only one I have got and I’m going to be proud of it. I even rocked a “fatkini” at the beach on summer vacation this year. – Trista
Helpful Hygiene Products & Suggestions
I’ve had an apron belly as far back as I can remember. It got worse after my first c-section. I started having problems with chaffing. I started using an unscented invisible solid stick deodorant under every day. – Rebecca
Hibiclens: this is a soap surgeons use to scrub up before surgery. It kills EVERYTHING and it stays active on the skin for hours and hours. I wash my apron belly with this (and under my boobies and my armpits and groin area) and I do not get anymore boils or stink or itchy. After I wash and dry the area I sprinkle on an anti-fungal powder made for feet. It keeps the area dry. This same powder goes under the boobies, too. I am a 44 J. – Lori
Monostat puts out an anti-chafing gel cream that is a lifesaver under the apron! – Candice
Coconut oil is your friend! – Jessica
Got a nasty rash? Get diaper rash cream! Helps so much!!! – Lori
Maxi pads not just for periods, perfect for keeping post c-section wounds dry and infection free. I just folded a maxi pad in half and stuck that sucker under my belly and healed perfect! – Daniella
Goldbond is a lifesaver! – Audra
No jeans for this girl, my belly enjoys stretchy pants that kind of keeps my belly tight and I need them to be high wasted – Trudy
I wear Capri leggings, looser in the leg and have the tall waistband. Cowcow dresses, skater style and full skirt. – Olivia
Sizing up a 1-2 sizes of Spanx or similar support garments has offered me both support and shaping. It’s uncomfortable to have my apron swing around when I walk even when I am not pregnant and this stops that. – Sarah
I had an apron belly before I got pregnant so gaining all the weight that I did really took a toll on me. The belly band was definitely great towards the end of my pregnancy and first few weeks after my C-section. – Daniella
I’ve started wearing more plus size tunics and waist-less dresses or empire dresses. I don’t like the look of me in jeans or shorts any more. Plus size leggings that squish me down are ok, but only if the shirt is long enough to cover the strange shape – Beth
I continue to wear maternity pants, just to keep it tucked in some… – Camille
I’ve had an apron literally since I was 4 years old, and right now I’ve been through two pregnancies and lots of weight fluctuations. The two things I hate the most are the way it claps against the tops of my thighs if I run or just move too quickly. It’s a very strange noise that is very noticeable! Compression workout pants help with that, but I don’t really want my waist compressed as much as my lower belly. – Sarah
I wear my underwear under my belly and my pants over. I’m extremely particular about this. My underwear ALWAYS bunch up in the back because of all the extra fabric, or they fall down because they are too loose. – Ann
Lane Bryant full cotton brief. Comes up over my belly and doesn’t give me wedgies. The fit of these is first rate. I told my mom and now she won’t wear any other kind of panties. They are life changing. – Lori
I gave up underwear mostly. I wear something like sleep shorts instead unless it’s that time… Then it’s plus size briefs. – Elizabeth
I’m totally about to embarrass the crap outta myself, but here goes: As I’ve lost weight and the belly hang is worst, I’ve noticed my butt is smaller and I’m in desperate need of new undies…. My solution? I bought the new size and wear the backwards …. The hi cut ‘front’ cuts across my cheeks flatteringly and the fuller ‘back’ holds the belly hang in. Totally has helped me (for now) until this hang pulls up/in, which I’m hoping it will do – Soon! Anyway, hopefully that might help someone else?! – Yvonne
Pillows! Use under your hips especially. – Jessica
I wear a baby doll top that puts a lot of emphasis on my boobs, straighten my hair, and full on makeup so eyes are fixated on my upper half – Samantha
I have 3 kids…the clothes just come off. No time for special lingerie, lol! I have occasionally done no panties under a skirt if I have time to think ahead. Ha! The older I get I’ve learned to just embrace it, it’s my body…if you don’t like it then that’s on you. There are plenty of guys that don’t mind it. – Rebecca
Additional Obstacles & Solutions
Omg and seat belts!! The seatbelt is supposed to lay “flat across the hips”. Yeah right. It sits right on top of my belly. – Breanna
Try a seatbelt extender if you’re having this struggle. Safety is important and there’s also no shame in asking for an extender when you’re on a plane.
Shaving is the worst… You want to be trimmed and sexy but to get that way you have to either master a belly hold and razor shave or plan some alone time so that you can lay on the bed and do this in privacy. – Natalie
I found Nair works a lot easier than razors! Not a perfect smooth but enough that if you don’t feel like razoring, you can at least feel clean! They have a cream you can use in the shower now so a bit easier. – Becky
As a plus size mom with an apron belly (thanks kids!) using the standard peri bottle from the hospital and midwives was never easy but I made it work each time with 4 babies and 4 vaginal deliveries. Someone gave me the Fridababy Fridet, The MomWasher this pregnancy and it’s amazing. It is easier to use because of the bent nozzle and the shape fits better in my hand.
The travel bag is also handy so it stays in my purse or diaper bag with a pad I can easily pull out and clean up while out and about too. So when I use the bathroom I don’t have to maneuver my belly as much on the toilet to get a straight shot to my crotch while I pee and after. I will save this for future babies and it will be in my new mom gift repertoire. – Sarah
I got a panniculectomy. I haven’t had a c-section and my apron was from weight loss. My insurance covered 100% – if you have documentation of rashes it can be covered to be removed. I had a great plastic surgeon. – Anna
My surgery with a tummy tuck, muscle repair and lower body lift will be around $14,000. – Sue
As we shared above, for many women surgery isn’t a possibility due to insurance and/or financial limitations. However, you can always talk to your care provider about options you may have.
Once again, please know that you’re NOT alone if you have an apron belly!
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