The Baby Shower Gift That Helped Me Improve My Diastasis Recti
I wish I had known about diastasis recti before I got pregnant. Knowing about it beforehand probably wouldn’t have prevented me from being affected, but I would’ve been more careful about doing certain ab workouts before and during pregnancy while beasting out on the fitness tip. In case you didn’t know, diastasis recti is an ab separation that can happen to anyone, but it’s especially common in women who have given birth, for obvious reasons. I’ve been active my entire life and even taught pole dancing until I was seven months pregnant. My doctor told me that I could continue to work out the way I always had, depending on what my body allowed, but I never got information about diastasis recti, not even from the athletic community.
Diastasis recti can result from abdominal weakness compounded by poor posture, poor workout technique and, again, pregnancy, especially in women who are over the age of 35, have had multiple pregnancies, or have had babies with a high birth weight. The condition can make you appear as if you are still pregnant, even months or years later, and as we’ve seen with women like Ciara and Kelly Rowland, even the fittest of women can be susceptible.
Throughout my pregnancy, I tried my best to keep my posture in check and make sure I had good form during all activities, but I still did certain ab movements that weren’t ideal in terms of diastasis recti prevention (or minimization) in pregnant women. I discovered that I had a minor separation after partaking in the greatest baby shower gift I never knew I needed. It was the Mummy Tummy System (MuTu System), a workout series created by certified postpartum exercise specialist Wendy Powell that’s geared toward the needs of postpartum women. It’s all about pelvic floor and abdominal rehab and is taught by a fit mom. It’s literally like having a personal trainer bestie who totally gets you because she went through the same thing you did.
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I was so focused on snapping back after giving birth that my first attempts to work out after getting clearance from the doctor at six weeks involved me trying terribly to do everything that I used to do. I was humbled swiftly by hormones, exhaustion, and relaxed joints. I finally realized that after pregnancy, there is a new normal. Even if you get back to your pre-pregnancy size, there are going to be things that look and feel different, and I realized I had to take it slow, which made the MuTu System perfect. After starting, I was able to identify a two-finger-width gap in my lower abdomen and learn techniques for better posture, what types of abs workouts I shouldn’t do, and how to start my journey toward closing the gap. Laying off the planks, which was suggested, was a hard one, but I did and survived. I decided to resume when I was sure I felt stable enough to do them again, and with proper form. Once I completed the 12-week program, I still didn’t feel stable enough to plank, but I applied the new posture principles that I learned, along with other methods of core work (like squats and knee lifts, for example) to my repertoire, along with a healthy dose of patience.
It took me about a year to close that two-finger gap to one finger. I am almost two-and-a-half years postpartum and still have a finger-width gap. I’m just starting to feel comfortable doing planks again and I’m finally getting my core back to a place that I’m comfortable with. Working out as much and as consistently as I would like to has been hard with a busy toddler, but what I learned from the MuTu System and my fit mom tribe is that patience and being kind to myself trumps everything else. Plus, I’ve met moms who have managed to close their gaps so that means there’s hope.