Pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous transition. The thought of growing and nurturing a human life inside you is astounding, wondrous, stunning, sublime and almost literally breathtaking. It’s hard to put into words the love and adoration you have for the soft and innocent ball of joy that put you in the most agonizing hours of your life. I was 38 weeks pregnant with my third when my husband brought up the topic of having a fourth! My initial reaction was “let’s get through this pregnancy first.” Two weeks later in the midst of my final few contractions before the big push I vividly remember thinking to myself “there is no way I can do this again.” I was convinced I could never let myself go through childbirth for a fourth time. Fast forward to day two home with new baby and I so sweetly look at my husband while she is snuggled in my arms and say “Okay, I know I can do this again.” Every burden and discomfort leaves our minds when we can bask in the fruits of our labors. I loved my pregnant body! Watching it grow, change and learning what my body was capable of was eye-opening. What I wasn’t in love with was the postpartum mess it brings.
Pinterest was a great guide to finding out the postpartum woes that no one talks about. Some topics you may already know like the contractions, yes I said contractions, you get while breastfeeding. Padiscles, night sweats, postpartum blues, sleep deprivation, and hair loss are all topics that I felt well read on or informed by other mommas before having my first child. It wasn’t until I had my third child did I learn about diastasis recti. During pregnancy your abdomen and connective tissue stretch causing you to grow a beautiful human being that looks just like daddy but inherited all your tude. Through time your abdominal muscles heal and move closer together but not for everyone. Sixty percent of women have diastasis recti six weeks postpartum and thirty percent one year postpartum. It was due to my lack of strength training and exercise that DR was still a problem for me ten months postpartum. The profound moment was when three times in one week someone pointed to my mommy pooch and asked “so when are you due?”. I googled “postpartum mommy pooch” and there she was, Diastasis Recti. How had I not known about this before?! Why wasn’t this in my baby books that I treated like encyclopedias every time a question arose?! Well, you’re welcome ladies! I have arrived to share my struggle and knowledge to you about the mommy pooch that was present at my five year old’s preschool graduation.
Before we conquer diastasis recti we need to check for it. Lay down on a flat firm surface with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Raise your neck and shoulders off the ground so your core muscles are engaged. Gently press your fingers along the center of your abdomen. If you have a two finger width separation then that is a moderate diastasis. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on what is considered normal. There really isn’t extensive research on this topic period. I compared my DR to my husbands. Although an unfair comparison it did give me an idea of how my abdomen should feel and what goals to set in place. When I first did this check in January, I had a three finger width separation in my upper abdomen and almost four finger width separation in my lower. Now I have a one to almost no finger width separation in my upper abdomen and one and a quarter finger width separation in my lower. I’m still very much in the beginning stages of my fitness journey but to see that progress means more to me than hitting my goal weight.
Since there isn’t extensive scientific research on the topic there are tons of contradicting fitness workouts. I’ve read squats accentuate DR while squats engage your lower abdomen. Through my own research (I recommend doing your own. I am not a personal trainer, just a mom with a mom pooch.) I can share with you my knowledge and progress through this subject. Before doing so I want to say mom to mom, it is so important to stay active during and post pregnancy. I regret letting my fitness take a backseat. Enjoy your cravings just don’t forget to pick up a dumbell after. You can tackle DR during your pregnancy. Squats, lunges, bicep curls, tricep dips will not only help you during delivery but get you ready for holding that growing baby through the night. Gentle movements like crunches, diaphragmatic breathing, kegals, tightening and relaxing your core muscles for extended periods of time can be done mere hours or weeks postpartum. It has been a long list of movements that have helped me heal my DR. Burpees, planks, leg raises, bicycles, russian twists(just to name a few) and circuit training have been a huge contributor to my progress. I don’t have a recommended workout to show you but the workouts I do are crossfit workouts. There is no need to rush off and join a gym! Even though I go to a crossfit gym, they offer “fit camp” workouts. It has been a great way to ease back into my routine. The fit camp workouts are high intensity but low weights, exactly what my body needed. Pinterest “home crossfit workouts” and what I do is similar to that! I’ve hit the point in my journey where I do need to use heavier weights to burn more fat so I’ll be crossing over to the dark side this week.
Even with the progress of healing my DR, I still have a protruding belly. That has to do with my poor posture. Anterior pelvic tilt is common in pregnant women but can become a bad habit postpartum. I have to make a conscious effort to tighten my core, quads and glutes while aligning my rib cage with my pelvis. It’s a work in progress. In the meantime I push myself harder than the previous visit to the gym and love my body for what it is, a beautiful vessel that carried three lives with a passion for life and good food. Don’t be so hard on your postpartum body. It has a lot of healing and nurturing to do. I really hope sharing this information can help another momma who is struggling. Remember to love yourself first. Your body will be good to you if you’re good to it. Now, go to the rooftops and share the dets about our nasty friend diastasis recti!