Postpartum fitness and Diastasis Recti
Since having my little girl, I have come to realise that there are a lot of ‘secrets’ surrounding child birth and the mummy body. OK ‘secrets’ might be too strong a word, so let’s opt for say . . . ‘things people do not talk about’. As far back as I can remember, most people only talked about morning sickness, when it came to pregnancy. It was not common (as far as I know) to hear people talk about the other symptoms of pregnancy eg pelvic girdle pain.
Whilst ‘reading up’ when I was pregnant, I read that it usually takes about 8 weeks for a new mum to ‘get’ her body back. Ahahahhahahaha talk about the joke of the century. After discussions with some other mums, it turns out that it can take a woman up to 18 months to have her ‘first’ period. Let’s not even talk about the possibility of postpartum depression.
You see, all these terms are terms I learned from going through the process of child birth. No one I knew personally told me about any of these things (apart from the morning/all day sickness). So you can imagine my shock when I started having back pain. Two years after having my beautiful lil girl, I’ve been diagnosed with diastasis recti.
What is Diastasis Recti?
According to the NHS, diastasis recti is basically Separated Stomach Muscles.
It’s common for the two muscles that run down the middle of your stomach to separate during pregnancy. This is sometimes called diastasis recti, or divarication.
The amount of separation varies from one woman to another. It happens because your growing womb (uterus) pushes the muscles apart, making them longer and weaker.
Most women don’t notice any problems as their stomach muscles separate in pregnancy. But you might notice a bulge developing down the front of your bump, above and below your belly button.
After you have had your baby, you can check the size of the separation with this simple technique:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Raise your shoulders off the floor slightly and look down at your tummy. Using the tips of your fingers, feel between the edges of the muscles, above and below your belly button. See how many fingers you can fit into the gap between your muscles.
- Do this regularly to check that the gap is gradually decreasing.
The separation between your stomach muscles will usually go back to normal by the time your baby is eight weeks old. If the gap is still obvious at eight weeks, the muscles may still be long and weak. This can put you at risk of back problems.
Have a word with your health visitor or GP. Your GP can refer you to a physiotherapist, who will give you some specific exercises to do.
Regular pelvic floor and deep stomach muscle exercises can help to reduce the size of the separation between your stomach muscles. It’s also important to stand up tall and be aware of your posture now you’re no longer pregnant.
Prior to being diagnosed with Diastasis Recti, I struggled with exercising for two reasons: back pain and having ‘big girls’.
Doing regular household chores like washing dishes always resulted in a very ‘pulling’ pain. This meant that most of my physical activities had to be very low impact. I got a personal trainer who I thought would help but it turned out to be a mistake. Despite explaining that I had back pains, the exercise regime she put together for me only worsened things.
Last year my doctor referred me to a physiotherapist but after a few months, the physio discharged me saying that I would need to give my muscles time to heal. Heal from what?
I found a channel on Youtube called Fitness Blender and found it a very useful way to exercise at home. One of the things I loved about the channel was that in most of the exercises they work out to, there’s usually a low impact version.
Since following the channel (sporadically), I can say that my stamina has improved. One thing that did hold me back from exercising regularly was my ‘girls’. That was until I received a free sports bra from SHEFIT.
OUR DESIRE IS TO SUPPORT YOU
EVERY WOMAN. EVERY SIZE.
At Shefit, we believe bras shouldn’t discriminate, that’s why our sports bra accommodates women of every size—petite to plus, young to old, pro to weekend warrior. In simple terms, your size is irrelevant because we have a bra that will fit you! We understand the essence of every woman both literally and figuratively. That’s why we aim for extreme size diversity and multiple methods of support. We know each woman is different and expects something different from her bra. We want to support you through any activity—from gardening to sprinting—and make you feel confident to take on the world.
We know that sports bras are one of, if not THE, most essential piece of active clothing a woman owns. So let’s put it this way: Supporting you is our priority, and at Shefit we want to help you become an extraordinary version of yourself. Let us support you on your journey to becoming the best, most fabulous version of yourself.
What makes SHEFIT different?
Regular sports bra, are usually one pieces that are so tight you feel like air isn’t reaching your lungs. The SHEFIT bras are completely different.
Review of the SHEFIT sports bra
When I first tried to put on the bra, I struggled to zip it up the way it was received. I had to adjust the velcro band before the zip would even move. Whilst having a zip is great, the down side was that it caught my skin. So I have made a mental note to watch out for my skin when zipping up. And that’s it, putting it on was pretty straight forward.
Once I had it on, it did exactly what it said it would. I didn’t feel like I was suffocating when I had it on. Before, I didn’t like to do jumping jacks because ‘my girls’ flew all over the place. However, with SHEFIT ‘they’ are better behaved now ehehehehehhe.
As I am unable to do high impact exercises at the moment, I cannot comment on their effectiveness when faced with more intense workouts but for jumping jacks (is that high impact?) it does the job very well.
Pregnancy and child birth changes a woman’s body and it is important that we listen to our bodies. Whilst we may be eager to want to return to our pre-pregnancy bodies, it is important that whatever exercises we do does not worsen things in the long run.
Before starting any fitness programme, I highly recommend that you speak to your doctor (or other health professional) and rule out diastasis recti. There are some exercises that can worsen the condition.
Once you are given the all clear, you need to invest in a good sports bra that will give you adequate support. If you have a cup size bigger than a D cup, you are probably aware that the number of retailers that cater to ‘bigger girls’ are quite limited (in London at least). That’s why I am so excited that I found the SHEFIT brand and do recommend them for postpartum fitness.
My only hiccup with SHEFIT is that their models are not everyday women. I would have felt a bigger connection with them if the models weren’t picture perfect. I would have liked to see women that reminded me of myself and my friends as their models.
Who knows maybe when they are a bigger brand, they’d consider using me as a model *wink *wink
I may have to have surgery later on in the year as I have been referred to a surgeon. The separation in my stomach is a little bit on the wide side. Fingers crossed I get a skilled surgeon and not a butcher.
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