I must admit I honestly thought my stomach would deflate like a popped balloon after I gave birth. When that did not happen I thought did they forget to take something out or HOLD UP is there another baby in there. I look back at the pictures following my C-section and my stomach looks like I’m 6 months pregnant! Talk about feeling let down.
Being a dancer all my life honestly has made me a bit critical about my body. Being in the professional dance arena in which you are paid to look “perfect” didn’t help either. No matter how fit you are pre pregnancy you never really know how your body is going to respond to being pregnant until you go through it. Some women work out and eat healthy and still gain an extreme amount of weight while others pig out and hang up their tennis shoes for 9 months, pop out their baby and the next day look like they never had one.- THAT WASNT ME and if that was you please don’t tell me 😉
I ate pretty healthy and worked out often but I didn’t push myself by any means. Coaching dance and working, at the time, in a sales job kept me active most days which I believe helped to keep my weight gain within the normal range. Friends and family would always tell me “you will bounce right back and have your 6 pack back in no time “while very discouraging articles and “others” would say you might as well kiss your figure goodbye..those “others” will remain nameless!
Fast forward a bit to 3 months post C-section and I still looked pregnant. Yes I had some extreme gas (sorry just keeping it real) but I was running, weight training and doing abdominal work..so why did I still look like this?
I went back to my OB and he assured me it would just take time for my body to return to a “new normal”..God bless him and his “new normal” statement! He is lucky I like him!! He prescribed some medicine to work on my gas issues but I wasn’t satisfied with that answer..something told me to do some research.
I turned to my trusty pal for which I have a love/hate relationship with, Google, and it was here that I started to find light at the end of the tunnel based on my symptoms:
- Severe gastro issues following a C section
- Extreme bloating
- Appearance of still looking pregnant…
So turns out that I have this! In other words my abdominal muscles separated during pregnancy and didn’t come back together. So that bulge that made me look slightly pregnant was in fact my intestines!! I know, I know its gross but at least I now knew what I was dealing with. I was having gastro issues because my intestines were hanging out unsupported by my abdominal wall. They need each other and my abs just said, see ya! Not nice at all! And you know all of that core work I did as soon as I got cleared to exercise??…that just MADE IT WORSE! (gravity was not my friend)
Why didn’t my OB tell me about this or check me for this? Well the truth of the matter is your OB is concerned about keeping you and your baby alive, whether or not you flaunt flat abs in a bikini in the near future is not on his/her lists of concerns but its on mine!!
You see I think a lot more women could rock flatter abs after childbirth if they just knew what to do and NOT to do. MOST IMPORTANTLY..All women should check their bellies for a diastasis recti!
SO HOW DO YOU CHECK…
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominal muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
Use Correct Form for an Accurate Assessment…
- Make sure that you don’t simply pull your head off the mat-a common mistake. To effectively contract your abs, you need to move your ribcage closer to you pelvis. If you don’t adequately activate your abdominal wall, you might assume that you have abdominal separation. But for most, as the rib cage moves closer to the pelvis and the contraction deepens, the width of the gap at your midline will decrease.
- Don’t panic if you feel a “hole” in your belly in the first few postpartum weeks. Everyone’s connective tissue at the midline is lax after childbirth. As you recover, your midline will slowly regain its former density and elasticity, and the “hole” will become shallower, and if you do the right exercises, more narrow too.
Signs of Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation…
- A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths when the rectus abdominis is fully contracted.
- The gap does not shrink as you contract your abdominal wall.
- You can see a small mound protruding along the length of you midline.
So…do you have one??
If the answer is YES..here is your homework..
STOP DOING THE FOLLOWING:
These will only make it worse!
I’m in week 4 of my rehab for my diastasis recti and the results are incredible…
My next blog post will feature the exercises and tools I am using that have helped me. I’m only an email away if you have questions until then!
In the meantime start telling yourself that you CAN have a flat stomach again..its possible mama’s.
Contract your abs three times and tell them “There’s no place like home” 😉
Picture taken about 3 months post C-section (April 2013). Will include recent pictures in my next blog post to document progress made using the Tupler Technique designed specifically for closing your abdominal separation!