*deep breaths* Sharing these photos is scary and makes me want to puke a little. But sharing also holds me accountable, and shows other women that they’re not alone.
Did you know that your post-baby belly pooch might be something more serious? Diastasis recti affects at least 30% of women after birth, and unfortunately, it doesn’t go away on its own. Many mamas don’t even know they have it, but can suffer symptoms related to diastasis recti, and unknowingly do things that make it worse (like crunches!). In reality, you’re supposed to do special diastasis recti exercises, to help heal, and avoid traditional ab work.
The condition basically means that throughout your pregnancy, your abdominal muscles were stretched apart, no longer touch one another in your midline, and your stomach protrudes – because there’s no overlying muscles holding it in. You can learn a bit more about this condition, and how to test yourself at home to see if you have diastasis recti, here.
I noticed signs of diastasis recti with my first pregnancy, but had no idea what it was. When I bent backwards to rinse my hair in the shower, my belly bulged out in a narrow cone that I had never seen before. I did not learn that diastasis recti was “a thing,” until years later – unfortunately, most doctors don’t test for diastasis recti, nor do they mention it to moms as a possible condition to look out for. In fact, I learned about it right here on Daily Mom, as one of our writers was a passionate advocate for DR healing. After my third (and largest) baby was born, I was officially diagnosed with diastasis recti and a mild cystocele – both signs that my pelvic floor was not functioning properly.
Praise God, I am one of the few lucky mamas who does not have any form of postpartum incontinence – I can run and jump without peeing myself – but that doesn’t mean I can ignore my diastasis. My core is so weak that it takes literally nothing for me to throw my back out, making it almost too painful to walk, for up to two weeks at a time.
I’ll never forget the time, a week before I was returning to the work force for the first time since becoming a mom, I went on a bounce house with my daughter. She was a little over 1 year old at the time, so I gently bounced on my knees – just in the slightest bit, so she wouldn’t fall over. I threw my back out. That simple activity had me in absolute agony for two weeks. I couldn’t walk for several days. And I thought I wouldn’t make it to my first day of my new job. Luckily, I managed to hobble around in a suit and heels for the first few days, but I’m fairly certain I looked like a lunatic. The pain was unreal. A mom of three not able to walk? Disaster waiting to happen, let alone the fact that my tummy bulge is an ever-present source of shame and something I am constantly trying to hide.
This is what I looked like at 5 months postpartum, and then again at 8 months postpartum, after majorly overhauling my diet and starting to work out 6 days a week for about 30 minutes a day. When I started, I had already lost all 30 pounds of my pregnancy weight, and then I dropped another 20 over the course of a few months. And yet my main problem still persisted – it seemed like my “mummy tummy” was here to stay.
My OB referred me to the top pelvic floor doctor in my area, and she recommended I stop doing crunches, planks, and traditional ab work, and that I begin the MuTu System of diastasis recti exercises, to help heal, immediately. I had never heard of it before, didn’t know what it was, or what it would do. So I did what anyone would do, and Googled it as soon as I got home. I was deeply entrenched in my current fitness routine, and the thought of adding something else on top of it was too much. I questioned if I really wanted to go through with it, but I eventually became so frustrated that the entire rest of my body was changing and getting so much stronger – yet my core was so weak – that I decided to take the leap and enroll in the program.
The MuTu System is a three-month program that you complete online, to heal and close your gap. It consists of daily diastasis recti exercises and a simple meal plan (read: eat clean), and it gets phenomenal results for mamas with this condition. Restoring pelvic floor health, strength, and function, is actually way more critical than you’d think. I’ll be honest, even though I knew I had diastasis recti for years, I didn’t care to fix it until now – I thought, “what’s the point?” and “does it really matter?” alternately for such a long time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my core weakness and constant back pain. I’ve been thinking even more about how much my stomach annoys me and how I’m always looking for clothing to cover up the bulge. It rules my life every day, and I am forever thinking about it – “Does this make my stomach look big?” “Do I look pregnant?” “I definitely look pregnant.” “Screw it, I’m wearing a muumuu.”
I am ready for a change, and I absolutely cannot wait to see my results. If they’re anything like I’ve seen on the MuTu transformations page, I am in for a treat!
Soon, I am going to start the MuTu System to heal my diastasis recti. I will share my three-month journey with you here, on my personal Instagram @CookiesForBFast, and on Wellness Wednesdays on our Daily Mom Instagram, @DailyMomOfficial.
Photo credits: diastasis recti diagram: MuTu System, all other post images: Cookies For Breakfast