This is an important post that I’ve thought about for ages (before I even thought about a blog, you know those imaginary books and blogs you write in your head!) because its going to help some people improve their tummy and change the way some of you think about exercise. You’ll have to read through the story though to see what I mean, so I’ll do it in parts so its not one big long post 😉
After the birth of my second son a physio came around and managed to get two hands into my belly between my abdominal muscles!!! She was like “Wow!” and I was like “What are you talking about?”. Diastasis Recti (DR). How had I not known that this could happen? And was actually VERY common, I mean we all know about stretch marks and the pelvic floor! It was like someone had split me from above my belly button till all the way down below it – my two lovely boys. Statistics vary, 30%-60% of mums postpartum will have this, all varying in severity, a lot go unnoticed and a lot also heal very quickly unnoticed. But the bigger the separation the longer it will take to heal, nearly all mothers have a small 1-3 finger width DR straight after birth and this closes within weeks or a couple months, no big deal. I had a… wait for it… 8 finger width separation! And that kind of severity requires patience, education and work.
Diastasis Recti (DR) is often the reason for the “Mummy Tummy” look, even when you have lost all extra weight. Because a DR is not all about your weight. Did I have this after my first son? I don’t know, nobody checked me, I did notice my tummy was never quite right and didn’t respond to my normal situp/crunches routine… oh have I learnt a thing or two about them! Its simple, just don’t do them! Trust me, you’ll understand soon.
So I took my second boy home with a stretchy splint thing to wear around my middle for 6wks and strict instructions to not even think about doing any kind of ab workout, no vacuuming or lifting my 22mth old. Like that’s going to happen. After 3mths I felt I had more energy and was looking at my sad tummy with no idea of what to do with it, so I just went back to doing situps and planks etc in vain hope they would work. They didn’t. So I researched and educated myself on this condition, and found out how to check the DR myself. It was still open at 4 finger widths and I had been doing all the wrong things for it, doh! So I found safe exercises to do, but I got bored with them because I was so used to doing more intensive stuff. Then I got pregnant again when my youngest was one and out went any tummy exercises, if I had known better then I would of kept at them instead of letting my belly hang all out there at 6wks pregnant. No wonder I looked pregnant so quick my tummy muscles were a mess!
After baby boy number three (I’m good at making boys) it was no surprise to me that I once again had an 8 finger DR.
I wasn’t stuffing it up this time! I wore that stretchy splint thing through that hot Queensland summer and did those silly boring exercises every two days. It helped, but I was missing a piece of the puzzle, a big piece. I learnt also that you have to measure a DR in three places, above the belly button, at the belly button and below. So I got down to a 2/3/2.5 and then I got stuck there.
I paid the money and went to a physio, she said Id done well but gave me a new exercise routine to follow. She still left out the piece I was missing to heal my tummy… (your really wondering what it is now aren’t you) More months went by and no big improvement was made, I had to tell myself though that I’d come a long way. But when I lay down after a meal I could still see my organs moving about under the skin where the hole was, digesting my food, and now I had a small hernia. Hernias push through the abdominal wall where it is weak. On the outside I just looked like a slim mum of three who could bounce back easily after birth, every body takes it toll somewhere after babies whether you see it or not!
Then I found Fit2b and Tummy Team (through Fit2b) and they gave me the missing piece of the puzzle that would change the way I moved and exercised for the rest of my life! No I’m not paid to promote anyone. I just don’t like keeping secrets and if Ive found something that will help others, I’m going to shout it from the rooftops….or from my computer.
Read PART TWO for the rest of my story and the most basic exercise move you should learn to begin your healing journey! While your waiting you can check yourself for a Diastasis Recti by clicking here – About Diastasis Recti and it’ll take you to Fit2b and they will tell you more about the condition and they have videos on how to check yourself! Do it! If you don’t have one, great! But that doesn’t mean you wont benefit from strengthening your core and changing some small things about your lifestyle, there are other symptoms of a weak tummy, diastasis recti is just one of them, back pain, pelvic floor issues, even constipation can all be linked to a weak core. Learn more at fit2b.us and in my next post PART TWO