I am 10 weeks postpartum which I can’t believe. I look back at pregnancy pictures and can’t believe my belly was that big! Crazy!
Now here I am writing this post that honestly took me a long time to write. Overall my recovery after labor has gone great! Madison is doing amazing. She is sleeping longer and longer each night! Yay! Just like with my acne pictures, the pictures in today’s post are very embarrassing for me to be sharing. But I wanted to be honest and real. These photos are not edited in any way, this is the real-life me. My body after baby and I am embracing it (stretch marks and all)!! I love my body!!
One reason why this post took some thought was I’m sharing a new personal struggle for me. Why am I sharing this? Because you are family and I wanted to be completely real with you. I know some of you may be suffering from this too and it’s nice knowing that you are not alone.
I have diastasis recti (also known as ab gap or ab separation) and I’m sharing how I have been exercising to reconnect my ab muscles.
As you can see in the video I am keeping my spirits up about having stretch marks and dealing with diastastis recti (which I have a hard time pronouncing).
What is diastastis recti?
Basically, when the left and right sides of your rectus abdominis (your abs) separate and don’t go back together. You have this little “mummy tummy” that doesn’t seem to go away. Also known as abdominal separation.
I lost all my pregnancy weight very quickly but still had this pouch around belly button. I realized that this is called mummy tummy, a sign of diastasis recti. That is how I knew I had it besides checking myself. Yes, you measure yourself by sticking your fingers in the gap, just another pleasant motherhood side effect!. And I admit this was gross. Seeing and feeling the gap is not fun.
Diastastis recti (DR) is actually very common with pregnancies. Although, not all pregnant women will get it. Over 1/3 of women will have a gap of two fingers or more after their first baby (and guess that was me).
Remember everyone has some ab separation immediately after labor and it heals on its own. For others, the journey to get their ‘abs’ back takes a longer due to DR. There are specific exercises like I mentioned in the video, that can help you heal. DR is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. DR is the result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading, & is common in the later stages of pregnancy, particularly second or subsequent pregnancies.
It is still hard for me to look at these pictures. But I see small improvements. I still have a gap, but I am staying positive during this healing journey of mine.
My healing journey to close my abdominal separation (ab gap as I like to call it).
I started with about a good 3 1/2 finger width. But really that is just an estimate. It really is hard to measure DR exactly because we all have different size fingers. So I am trying not to stress too much about the width (harder said than done) and just focus on strengthening my entire core and fixing my alignment.
I feel over these past 5 weeks of focusing on doing a lot of core re-conditioning exercises (along with walking, good diet, and little strength training) my gap is now a good 3 fingers maybe 2 1/2 finger width. Again just an estimate. I only measure my gap every few weeks, not every week as I learned that can make it worse!
It is a very SLOW healing process. I can make up excuses to why this happened to me… but I decided to stop the excuses and it is what it is.
I am determined to overcome this. I know it is going to be hard. Well it is hard I can tell you that. All day long I am thinking about my core and posture. Am I sitting correctly, am I walking correctly, is that movement going to make my gap worse? These are the thoughts I think about all day long!!
I am not sure how celebrities always have such amazing abs so quickly after labor… that was not me. And that is not reality. So if you are wondering why your body didn’t jump back quickly after pregnancy… you’re not alone.
How can you heal or treat your diastasis recti?
Work on strengthening your core and pelvic floor muscles. Diastasis recti in some cases can be corrected and/or mitigated by physiotherapy.
It’s important to focus on building the strength in your pelvic floor and transverse abdominus by making sure to engage the entire abdominal area as you pull in towards the spine. And working on your glute (butt) muscles are important too.
And having better posture and alignment are very important in healing DR. This is the area I struggle most with.
Each week I am feeling stronger in my core but still have the gap. And some days my ‘mummy tummy’ looks better (all depends on how I stand and if it is at the end of the day or not). It looks better standing up compared to when I’m lying down on back.
What am I doing?
Focusing on staying positive. Realizing that I have DR hasn’t been easy. But I have read success stories so I know if I keep working hard it will happen. I’m taking it one day at a time.
I did purchase a belly band to help bring my abs back together. I got the belly bandit. Like I said in the video, I was a little late in doing this. Now I am wearing mother tucker and liking it. It helps me to stand and sit upright more and makes me be more aware of my movements. I don’t think wearing just a belly band will fix the gap, but I think they can help aid in the process. Also, I feel they are great for making you stand up straight.
For the past 5 weeks, I have been doing a group of different core and pelvic floor exercises twice (sometimes once) a day. I have shared a few workouts and tips in our purely fit life program. I also have been walking just about every day. And after my 6 weeks postpartum, I started doing a few full body strength training workouts once or twice a week. One day I did do some jump rope for cardio and hope to do more!
I know I have a long journey ahead of me.
I admit it is tough as I want to work out like I did pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy, but I can’t.
I am taking the time now to fully recover from having ab separation.
I still have a lot to learn about DR.
Do you have any questions for me?
Did you have ab separation after labor? How did you heal yours?
How do you embrace your body after baby?
Will you join me in loving our bodies even with stretch marks and all?