As I recover from the pregnancy and delivery of my third (adorable) child, I find the process slow but sure. Each time it seems to take a little bit longer, but I’m certain there is a new normal in sight.
I love that I get to share this phase with many friends and fellow mothers who are going through the same things that I am. I feel so lucky that we get to lean on each other and help each other through all of the highs and lows, learning from each other along the way!
One topic I find that I’m consistently sharing on is how to close the diastasis recti gap.
With some help and advice from my sister in law (a personal trainer certified in postnatal fitness), I was able to close the gap after my second pregnancy and in turn, get into the best shape of my life.
Now it’s time to pay it forward!!
FIRST THINGS FIRST
What is it?
Diastasis recti is a separation of the abs that commonly occurs with pregnancy; most likely to occur after multiple pregnancies and pregnancies of multiples (but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it after just one). A majority of moms have diastasis recti a few months postpartum, and roughly 1/3 of women who have given birth will still have diastasis recti at a year postpartum. It is a major contributor to “the mom pooch”.
How do I know if I have it?
Lay down flat on your back, with your knees up and feet on the floor. Do a small crunch and use your finger tips to feel for a gap above your belly button. You can check your entire torso for the separation; a gap of more than 2 finger tips wide indicates you do have it, and will require physical therapy to close, with some rare cases requiring surgery.
Why should I close it?
Don’t be fooled; closing the gap is a good idea for many reasons, not just to avoid a mom pooch (though that’s a perk for sure!). For one, a very wide gap can leave many organs vulnerable as they aren’t as protected by your muscles. Another important note to remember is that the separation equals a weak core and pelvic floor. This can lead to any number of issues with posture, back pain, incontinence, etc.
In my own experience, correcting diastasis recti and strengthening that inner core made my regular work outs even more productive. I ran faster, I felt stronger, and I was less sore. My core was stronger, so I also experienced far less back pain if I held my children for extended periods of time.
It’s easier to start early, but never too late to start!!
OKAY! LETS CORRECT IT!
Correcting diastasis recti is a slow but worthwhile process. The first thing I would suggest is looking up Lindsay Brin. She is the master of this topic! From there you can glean great information and workouts to close the gap and improve overall postpartum fitness.
For those interested, this is my personal process and how I got from a little over 3 finger tips to 1:
- THIS Lindsay Brin video for 3 weeks, no other work outs.
- I then add some of her other videos with low impact workouts.
- I DO NOT do lunges, squats, planks, push ups, crunches or sit ups until the gap is closed (or less than 2 finger tips).
- I DO keep my core tight and pulled in while doing other workouts, making sure I’m not pushing my abs OUT.
- I DO NOT run or do any other higher impact workout until my gap is at 2 finger tips or less.
- When I do any type of workout or heavy lifting (picking up my children, included), I check my belly button. Pulling it in and up and standing up straight engages the inner core and prevents me from pushing those ab muscles out and apart, essentially undoing all my hard work.
- Any time I feel that my core needs a tune up, I come back to that first video. Those small movements make a big difference!
- Patience. Patience with the process and what I want my body to do. Listening to how I feel when doing the workouts. This is so hard! Getting the green light to work out at 6 weeks postpartum but waiting until 8-10 weeks to go for a much desired run is SO HARD for me.. but I’m better and stronger for waiting.
I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Let’s get STRONG, mama!
*The above photos are my 12 month post-baby #2 photos.. and my ultimate goal- STRONG! Below, you will find my 7 weeks post-baby #3 photos. I’m so proud of this body and what it has accomplished, but let me tell you- it FEELS weak and a bit beat up from pregnancy and delivery. I’m ready to get STRONG again. We’re in this together! ❤️