I was inspired to write post this after a day of doing fitness assessments and realizing how hard we are on our bodies and how distorted our view of perfection is.
One day, as I was sitting up from a nap while pregnant, I called my husband into the room. “Husband” I said, “look, when I sit up you can see the baby popping out!” I was – to say the least – excited. Little did I realize that my once perfect six pack (just kidding, never really had one due to my love of food and inherited pectus excavatum) was torn down the center from my 70 POUND WEIGHT GAIN (there I said it) with my first and only child.
Here’s my pre-preggsy face and just before delivery face:
Diastasis recti (from now on referred to lovingly as DR) is the technical name when your rectus abdominus muscle separates – often due to pregnancy. The Mayo clinic lists the following as pregnancy related causes of DR:
- *over age 35;
- *multiple pregnancy;
- *baby with high birth weight;
- *repeated pregnancies.
I feel they left out the “ate two Peanut Buster Parfaits alone in car on a weekly basis” cause, but whatever.
Myself and those close to me were certain my baby was to be at LEAST ten pounds at birth. One lady in IKEA even asked me if I was sure I wasn’t pregnant with twins. Turns out I wasn’t. My girl weighed a healthy 7 pounds, 10 ounces. I retained alot of water weight, but mostly I think it may have been related to my stellar baby growing diet. (Dr. B my wonderful Ob/Gyn told me at one appointment “okay Laura, you can stop gaining now” as he giggled.) If ever asked what I did for a living, I just said that I worked for an insurance company. Ahem.
Me – Pre Preggo, 6 month bliss & days before:
N.B. This is not a pity party. To be honest, I LOVED being preggo. Folks were so very nice to me (other than asking if I’d eaten a horse), I ate with reckless abandon, and I didn’t feel like I needed to “maintain” a specific weight / look like I did before due to my job. I felt amazing – so happy and filled with love. And…wait for it…I LOVED my curves. Bonus: doors were opened, seats given up, feet rubbed, pedicures by the month. People said “don’t work to long / hard, can I get you some food?” I have never felt like such royalty.
Then, my little bundle popped out, no epidural, 24 hours labor & 45 minutes of pushing – not bad at all. Happy, healthy, infused with love as I had wished. Six weeks later, I did my first core workout. Plank – what was that hanging to the ground? Ball crunch – what’s that little tent popping up from my belly? Yup, you guessed it – DR. Off to my Physiotherapist. “No crunches, no planking, no overhead barbell / dumbbell, just pelvic floor” yada yada. What? Really? YES. I did not listen. I still have a small tent.
Although popular literature on the subject recommends TVA contractions (Transversus Abdominis – it holds in your guts or “compresses your abdominal contents”), because that muscle originates partly on the thoracolumbar fascia (back portion of the abdominal weight belt in your low back if you will) contracting it can actually pull the other abs taut – worsening the tear. (True story). I see so many of my clients pushing themselves to “get back their body” as soon as they pop a child out. Sometimes you have to ACCEPT CHANGE and be kind to yourself in the process of SLOW PROGRESS (I’m not yelling, I’m just in an all caps type mood).
What to do if you find yourself in this position? Get a really good belly band (scuba suit as my dear friend refers to it as) and wear it AS SOON AFTER YOU DELIVER as possible (check with your doc). Don’t do planks or any prone (down) facing exercises like pushups – you could herniate through the tear – not cool. Don’t do a ton of crunches / TVA contractions. See an exercise / rehab specialist.
The point of this post (to make a very long story not really short at all) is that bodies are different after pregnancy. My belly will never be the same as it was prior. I grew a person in it. The other day while in a body work course I am taking, I was asked to bare my abdomen in front of my class. I did it without hesitation. No one groaned, screamed or ran out as I had once feared would happen. I am real, I had a baby in this belly, and I am still a valuable and beautiful human being who will never alter myself to be anything but what I am. WE ALL ARE.
Enjoy this day!
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