I admit I am lucky when it comes to birthing babies. I have no problem coasting through labor (with an epidural) and delivery for me is about 15 minutes of pushing. I also am one of the lucky ones to have few problems nursing an infant. My milk supply is good and my babies have naturally figured it out. Recovery from childbirth, however, is something I am not good at.
My son and daughter were both nearly 9 pounds so it should be no surprise that a 9-pound baby being delivered in less than 15 minutes does some damage. Due to some of my immune system disorders, I do not heal quickly but once I do I finally start to drop the baby weight. After my first child in 2014 and even after my second in July of this year I lost my baby weight (all 45 pounds with each kiddo) very quickly. Breastfeeding helps a lot with that but I'll be honest, I use breastfeeding as a great excuse to eat more of everything. Despite my large appetite I still drop weight at a rapid pace.
In 2015, less than a year after my son was born, my spleen had to be removed through a vertical 10-inch incision down the middle of my abdomen. I recovered and a little over a year later became pregnant with my daughter. I soon learned two words that would haunt me, diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is the separation of your abdominal muscles and it usually occurs after childbirth. The degree of separation varies but the larger the separation the larger the post-pregnancy pooch or the body that still looks pregnant.
Looking back I had a mild version of diastasis recti after my first child but nothing like what I have now. My abdominal muscles had been weakened by both my first child and my splenectomy so once I was pregnant with my second child the muscles separated more and more each week. A mild separation is about two finger widths apart but mine was nearly five finger widths.
I was fortunate that I did not have any health scares because of it. Other than a faulty gallbladder I am unscathed. Except, I still look four months pregnant. There are exercises to help and most of them are pilates based. The best exercises, I have found, have been through a UK based exercise program called MuTu System. I have also been trying thirty days of yoga. So far I've gotten my diastasis recti down to a three finger width separation and my clothes are starting to fit a bit better. Here are some do's and don'ts I have learned from my experience.
~Exercise every day or at least start to add exercise into your week.
~Eat healthier, just doing exercises alone is not going to help much.
~Find exercises targeted for diastasis recti and do them every day.
~Talk to a medical professional about the severity of your diastasis recti and see what options are available to fix it
~Particpate in exercises like crunches, situps, and planking; they put too much strain on your muscles and actually make the diastasis recti worse (I skip planks during yoga)
~ Give up! This takes time!
I'm still on my journey and I'm not quite ready to post before and after pictures yet. What started out as a bit of a vanity concern (because people were asking if I were pregnant) has now turned into something I enjoy doing as it makes me feel so good to focus on myself for a change. I can't be mommy, wife, teacher, friend, sister, daughter if I'm not taking care of myself too. Good luck on your journey!
If you have any additional tips about diastasis recti please share in the comments!