If you’ve been pregnant, you know that your body is forever changed! No matter what girdles, work outs, and eating habits you try there is no way around the new shape your body has adapted. The key to postpartum recovery is focusing on the healing of your body, and embraceing these beautiful new changes! Congratulations, you officially have a womans body! God created our hormones to change and our bodies to reshape all for the ultimate joy of multiplying the world with precious babies. This change in our bodies is absolutely incredible, and it’s an experience that shouldn’t be hated or dreaded. He also created our bodies to HEAL. So while my body looks different than it did before I carried my children, I’ve healed and reshaped myself into a new and improved womanly version! Here’s some facts about the postpartum journey!
1. Every woman after childbirth has Diastasis Recti, a separation of the transverse abdominal muscles. This is reversible without surgery, however if it isn’t treated quickly after childbirth it makes it much more difficult to heal and may require surgery.
2. Reversing diastasis recti is easy, yet can be time consuming, and takes consistency! If you want to see it healed, you can start recovery as quickly as 4hrs after childbirth! The first step is investing in a quality girdle. These are uncomfortable, I’ve tried a few different brands, none are comfortable. They’re itchy, tight, and make you feel like you can’t move. These are so worth it though! Your abs are like an open wound, and it must be stitched back together. Your body after childbirth is in healing mode, and your abs will stitch themselves back together if you encourage the connective tissue to touch. Wrapping bellies has been done since the beginning of time. It also supports spinal strength and fights postpartum back pain. I wore my wraps 2-5hrs throughout the day, and slept in them every night for about 3 months.
3. Ab workouts can be ineffective and actually worsen the separation. The goal is NOT to strengthen the Rectus Abdominis (the outer layer), it’s to strengthen the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis. Starting 1 week after childbirth, I did exercises such as stomach vacuuming. ONE OF THE BEST AB EXERCISES IN THE WORLD. If done correctly, you flatten the belly from the inside transverse abs. STOMACH VACUUM… Google it! I do this about 4-5times morning and night. 10-15seconds hold. Basically this should hurt! You’re NOT FLEXING your abs, you’re depleting your stomach and hollowing the belly til it aches and burns. It’s awesome. Do it. It works. I mean it. I promise. This flattens your belly. Do this. Try it now. You can also lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground while performing the exercise and that’s awesome too.
4. Ab exercises that are ok for diastasis recti are as follow:
Pilates Marching, use youtube! Suck your belly into your back, tapping one toe on the ground at a time. It’s important to use the stomach vacuum technique in all of your ab exercises as well.
Pilates Single Leg Stretch, placing a small pillow under your tailbone works well. Stomach vacuum and switch legs mid-air.
Pilates Single Leg Pull, this can also be done with a pillow under the tailbone, but once you feel more strengthened try to do it without! This exercise can be beginner by grabbing onto each knee as you switch, or intermediate by keeping the arms extended as your alternate legs.
Pilates Swimming, with swiss ball. This forces the belly to stay pressed tight into the spine, and encourages the organs to stay in the correct anatomical position.
These are just a few tips that helped in my personal recovery. Above all else, remember that your new body is absolutely stunning, and it IS possible to be strong again!