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My Baby Body

on May 5 | in Pregnancy | by | with 13 Comments

THE QUESTION no mom will answer

“What will my stomach look like right after I give birth?”

When I was pregnant with my first child I asked the moms in my office this question repeatedly and never got a straight answer. Is it really so bad that expecting moms should be kept in the dark about it??? It seriously worried me.

Health nut that I am, I exercised 5 days a week up until the 38-40 week mark of my pregnancy. I wanted to go into the birthing process feeling strong and confident and I did.

Breaking the code of silence

Katie was born in December. When the family gathered to celebrate Christmas (3 days after her birth) I decided to do my little sis a favor. I  marched her into the bathroom and showed her my jiggly post-baby belly. She was going to be a mom someday and deserved to know. I didn’t think it was that bad, but she looked pretty horrified.

If I had known I was going to start a blog and let it all hang out I would have taken a picture for you, but I didn’t. Sorry. Here’s one of my extra tire 3 days after giving birth (And my happy, happy face. Can you tell she was worth it all?) It’s hard to tell but there’s quite a bit of flab there. I wasn’t allowing a lot of photos of my midsection since I was wearing a diaper at the time.

Just a few weeks postpartum I realized that my body was going to be gracious to me. I was very pleased with how breastfeeding was melting the extra pounds away!

As I sit typing this I am really tempted to delete this pic. Not everyone is born from a skinny mom like I was. Whatever. I still have more flaws than you.

I’m going to make a useful point very soon, I promise. In truth, I worked HARD for my post-baby figure. It looked good, but were things really good? Unfortunately, I didn’t learn until much later that a toned tooshie doesn’t have anything to do with birthing a baby.

A rude awakening – baby body round 2

Katie was two when I got pregnant for the second time. I was still carrying an extra 5 lbs or so (she was/is still breastfeeding). But hey, boobs and hips are good! Except for pasty white skin and a few gray hairs I had pretty much gone back to my pre-baby condition.

I thought.

During one of my prenatal visits with #2 I asked one of my midwives to check for a diastasis recti. It’s a separation in the very top layer of stomach muscles (where the six pack would be if all wishes came true). I was pretty sure I didn’t have any issues, but since I planned on exercising through this pregnancy I thought it would be safer to check. Some exercises are not recommended for people with this condition.

To my complete shock I had one.

I’ve never felt so divided... literally

Had I known about it before becoming pregnant I could have taken steps to rejoin the two sides. As it stands, all I can do are exercises that will lessen the inevitable separation. Here’s the truth about this pregnancy. My butt is flabby. My thighs rub each other when I walk. I have new dimples and they are not on my face. I do kegels and abdominal exercises but can’t seem to fit in cardio (which I miss so much.) I can’t figure out what exercises are safe because of my diastasis so I do nothing.

What makes me more sad is that I can’t pick my two year-old up except in extreme circumstances. I miss holding her so much, but I have to wait until she comes to me.

Don’t end up like me!! If you’re a mom and have never been checked for a diastasis call a midwife (or other healthcare professional) and ask them to check you. It takes less than five minutes. If you do have one and you’re pregnant, I highly recommend the exercises in Jule Tupler’s Maternal Fitness DVD. She developed the “Tupler Technique”, a specific series of exercises that are very effective at closing a diastasis recti (if you’re not pregnant) or mitigating its effect in pregnancy (if you are).

Note: This is not an action packed “yoga booty ballet” type video. It’s more of a “sit on the floor and squeeze” type of thing. Seriously, though, I have never worked harder on my transverse abdominals.

I also just ordered her Prenatal Pilates DVD. She goes over what is/isn’t okay for women with a diastasis, which is exactly what I need to know.

 

If you have a diastasis and are not pregnant, check out Lose Your Mummy Tummy, also by Julie Tupler. I’ve heard it really works.

Tupler’s video has helped me to once again feel strong and confident for Babypotamus’ birth. I am working the muscles that will actually push this baby out rather than toning my tooshie. I may not look as fit, but I am actually more ready than I was with Katie. It’s gonna be worth it!

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13 Responses to My Baby Body

  1. Des says:

    ugh, the flabby stomach. I STILL have mine (15 months later), even though I’ve lost all my baby weight plus 10 pounds.
    Oh and I did post a pic of my stomach after I had Lyric: http://www.belgexan.com/2007/04/my-engagement-ring-finally-fits-it.html
    .-= Des´s last blog ..I was right =-.

  2. Heather says:

    Wow, AWESOME pic! I’ll have to post mine after Babypotamus is born.

  3. Erika says:

    Heather, great story! So much of life is spent covering up and hiding in shame. You are a warrior princess in breaking down the barrier of shame and showing how wonderful life is when we love our bodies. AWESOME!

  4. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks for this! I did know that the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, and that you have to do specific exercises to close them up again. But I was really wondering what resources to go to for guidance – things I can do now, and things I can do postnatal. Awesome! Thanks again.

  5. Heather says:

    Elisabeth – I don’t know what your birth plan is, but I highly recommend using the Tupler Technique prior to birth if you can squeeze it into your schedule. I don’t have time to do her whole exercise routine so I just use the menu to skip to the section on transverse abdominals (the muscles used to push a baby out).

    I had a very long labor with Katie in part because I had not prepared the muscles used for contracting/pushing. I remember my midwife saying, “You’re having a good contraction, Heather. Now would be a good time to push” and I responded “I AM pushing!! Can’t you tell??”

    As fit as I looked, my birthing muscles were pretty weak. I am SO GRATEFUL that my wise, encouraging midwives helped me birth my baby at home anyway. Next time around I am praying for a quicker, more effective labor though.

    By the way, I am so excited for you! Aren’t we due around the same time? I hope you will share your birth story (maybe even on Mommypotamus?) when you can.

    • Elisabeth says:

      Hi there! Yes, I took this blog-post of yours and ran with it – found a 1-page breakdown of the Tupler Technique & other exercises, and have worked it into my routine. I’m also looking forward to getting a hold of the book (Lose Your Mummy Tummy). Feeling really good about all this: becoming strong for labor, AND being able to correct diastasis afterward!

      One good recommendation deserves another. A couple months before getting pregnant, I found this awesome workout deck in the bookstore and picked it up. It’s the “Core Strength Workout Deck” by Karon Karter. It comes like a deck of laminated cards with photographs and instructions, all designed to work your transverse, back, and pelvic floor muscles. It’s not specifically intended for pregnancy or postpartum, but it’s very adaptable, and super-approachable. I find I actually enjoy leafing through the cards every morning and picking a combination that fits my mood, energy level, time available, and fitness. Highly recommended!

      Here’s the Barnes & Noble link: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Core-Strength-Workout-Deck/Karon-Karter/e/9780760792100

  6. This made me laugh! I need to get to working on my diastasis before I have another baby, It’s worse then I thought it was. I just checked myself for it. ;-) Oh, our ever changing bodies!
    .-= Hannah Tallo´s last blog ..I Love You So… =-.

  7. Kate says:

    I think any abdominal muscles that I ever had were pushed out along with Asher- My stomach is just a big koosh ball! I don’t even know where to start…..

  8. Allison says:

    Hey, thanks for this! I was wondering, have you, or would you be willing to do a post that delves a bit deeper into postpartum care? I’m a little more nervous about that than about the birth itself!

    Allison

  9. Kirstyn says:

    You know, it’s true, it’s just about impossible to know about the baby tummy until you experience it yourself. For not having kids yet, I consider myself very well read and experienced in most things baby except for the actual experience…but I found myself shocked when my sister showed me HER baby belly. I had always pictured loose skin in folds, since, after all, the bulk inside had been born! But no, it was just as rounded as if she were 5 months pregnant. Just squishy. :-) How do we grow to adulthood without having a clue about such a basic thing?!

  10. K says:

    Hi, Heather,
    So we just found out I’m pregnant last night! I had plans on getting perfectly fit before really ‘trying.’ But God surprised us in His own timing.
    I’m super new to all this, and want to ask you a million things- but I’m starting by just reading all your pregnancy related posts.
    My currently pregnant sister-in-law works at a gym and was super fit & tiny before, and said that some workouts you can only do in pregnancy if you were already going strong beforehand. And she now has strong abs ontop of her bump, that she’s confident won’t separate at all during pregnancy/labor.

    So- knowing I’m only 3.5 weeks along, I’m trying to figure out what I can do to get as fit and strong as possible now, or if starting any point after conception is too late for me. Any advice, workout regimens, or resources you can point me to would be so appreciated. I want to do all this in the healthiest, most-natural way I can…but I’m new to this lifestyle, and having babies! So I need some guidance. Thank you for all your help!

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