Real Life: After I had a baby I had stretch marks on my stomach & chest, loose skin & extra fat on my low tummy, and Diastasis Recti ( the separation of your abdominals). It’s not like my body immediately snaps back to my pre-pregnancy bod. In fact, it takes 6-12 weeks for your uterus to shrink back down (faster if you breastfeed) and a year for your body to get its organs back in the right spots (they move out of the way so baby and grow). That means recovery is a long path, and I’m an impatient person lol. Not a great combination.
Today’s post is twofold. First, I want to be honest with my readers and by doing so hopefully help some other mamas out there who are dealing with the frustration of a slow recovery. Even with being in good shape before & during pregnancy, eating well, breastfeeding, and doing small workouts I am still nowhere near where I would like to be fitness/strength/tone-wise. I can still grab and twist my “bubblegum tummy” as a fellow blogger would call it.
I have friends who six weeks after they had a baby they look even better than they did before kids. They say breastfeeding and eating clean is the secret to their success and they look amazing. Not the case for me. Breastfeeding makes me retain water (and my boobs huge which of course makes me look 3 sizes bigger in about half of my tops). So despite being a great calorie burner and way to shrink my Uterus down, I don’t really get to enjoy the benefits until I stop. If you’re out there in the universe thinking “LIES! Breastfeeding is the worst and I don’t look/feel skinnier.” you’re not alone. It happens. If you expected to come home form the hospital in our smallest pair of pre-pregnancy jeans and its not happening the way you expected, don’t worry. Take your time and be patient (as patient as you can be) and make sure your getting back in shape in a healthy way.
Which brings me to part two of my post. I want to talk about getting back in shape in a healthy way post-baby and how to heal Diastasis Recti. If you’re not sure if you have Diastasis Recti, lay flat on the ground and curl your head and shoulders up as if you were doing a crunch. If your stomach cones or presses up higher in the middle and when you press on it with your fingers it is soft to the touch with no resistance – you have it. We’ll start with how to heal it.
DO NOT jump back in to a serious core routine. That will undoubtedly make it worse. This separation can get bad enough to require surgery if you’re not careful. Instead work primarily on core stabilization exercises (standing Marching high knees, bird dogs, side planks, glute bridges). There are a few good YouTube videos on some HERE, HERE, and HERE. Definitely avoid crunches, sit-ups, and any “twisting” where you are wringing your core out side to side (such as russian twists).
Additional ways to start getting back in shape include:
- Wearing a Post-Partum girdle 1-3 hours per day during the first 6 weeks. This helps press your uterus back in place faster.
- Eating healthy: While you can’t exercise in the first 6 weeks you can eat clean. Don’t use this time as an excuse for cookie dough and pizza (Like I did after my first pregnancy). Instead eat lots of veggies, whole grains, and protein.
- Mini-workouts: While you should listen to your doctor and not workout without approval, my doc was fine with me doing upper body routines with 3 lb weights, going on long walks, doing my core stabilization workouts, and even doing some light jogging. It helped me get back to feeling like me faster.
Hopefully this helps some Mamas out there recovering from their wonderful childbirth.