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.
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!