Hey Moms – Ever Hear of Diastasis?

medium_8570833723Looking back on it now, there were so many things about pregnancy I didn’t know that I really wish I had! One of these was about diastasis. As with all women, my abs obviously stretched out while I was pregnant. After I had my baby, I noticed a line in the lower part of my stomach, right under the belly button. As I began to lose the weight, the line didn’t go away. In fact, it seemed like one side was actually lower than the other. I thought it was just a gross fat thing and that I just needed to do more cardio, but after discussions with a few friends in the fitness industry, they said that it might in fact be diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is actually a protective response that often happens during the 5th month of pregnancy. The abs will split apart in the center since that area has less surface area to stretch. The split happens to help prevent the area from excessively stretching. However, if this occurs, the new mom should be focusing on specific exercises to help close the diastasis and shorten the abs back to their pre-pregnancy state. Without these exercises, the abs may not come fully back together and/or may come back together lopsided.

Typically, a postpartum plan* should first focus on the transverses abs and pelvic floor strengthening. Once these areas have begun to heal, you should then focus on closing the diastasis recti. During this time, it’s important to stay away from exercises that require a strain on the rectus abs (the center). This includes exercise or movements that require you to lift your head and shoulders off the ground and/or lifting both legs up in the air. (So don’t jump right into those sit-ups!) Once the diastasis is fully closed, then you can move on to more advanced ab work.

Be patient with yourself and don’t rush it. Debbi Goodman, MSPT,** states, “On average it takes most women (even extremely fit women) approximately 6 months to 1 year to regain full integrity of the abdominals. So, this is a slow process and one that should not be rushed. Advancing abdominal strengthening too quickly can jeopardize the joining of the recti and leave women with a central weakness.”

It can be frustrating waiting to get your body back, but trust me, it will be much more frustrating to have it heal incorrectly!

I know those first few months postpartum are so exhausting and finding the time for yourself sometimes seems impossible. But if you can, it is so worth it to work with a professional trained in these postpartum exercises to help you through and to make sure you are doing it the right way to properly heal your body. You could either work one on one with someone that has this specialty, or look for an ab rehab type of class or postpartum specific Pilates class taught by a qualified instructor. It will definitely be worth it in the long run, and at least this will be one thing that you won’t have to say, “I wish I knew….” for!

 

*It is important to talk with your doctor about any exercise program before starting. Be sure to discuss with him/her first!

**Debbi Goodman, MSPT is a licensed manual physical therapist with specialties in women’s health, dance medicine, and sports medicine. Debbi has had a private women’s health/orthopedic practice in New York City, and since moving to the Albany, NY area in 2004, she has developed a private practice in the Capital District. Debbi is one of the few physical therapists trained in internal evaluation and treatment of the pelvic floor muscles. In addition, she is specifically skilled in treatment of pregnancy problems including: sciatica, back/neck pain, pelvic pain and rib pain, and postpartum problems including: cesarean section recovery, urinary incontinence, pelvic/vaginal pain and post-delivery scars. Debbi teaches continuing education workshops for physical therapists, trainers and Pilates instructors focusing on exercise during pregnancy, and she is an instructor for prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes.

Source: Postpartum Recovery: Helping New Moms Get Their Bodies Back by Debbi Goodman in Pilates Pro

Another Interesting Article: Bigger Postpartum Challenges Than Just Baby Weight, by Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Kit4na via photopin cc

New Features

As this blog gets rolling, you will see some new features popping up. Here are a few of the upcoming features we have to look forward to seeing soon:

  • From Your Personal Trainer – This section will feature articles directly from trainers and consultants. They will offer expert advice and tips on fitness, nutrition, and general wellness.
  • Recipe Corner – We will periodically post tried and true nutritious recipes that are good for the whole family.  Yum!
  • The Doctor’s Corner – Articles from licensed physicians regarding all kinds of topics for your personal and family health.
  • Activity Corner – Fun activities for the whole family!

Stay tuned – lots of fun things coming your way on The IF Factor! Plus, more articles and personal posts on the usual infertility, adoption, pregnancy, parenting, and family topics as well as new contributor posts as well.

Have a great week!

Structure Change

This blog was originally started to be specifically about infertility and all of the craziness that surrounds it. Unfortunately, soon after it started, we had to put production on hold for a while. This hiatus, however, also gave me the time to realize that focusing on infertility was not the right way to go. I wanted the blog to be a place that could offer some hope for others in this situation, and to provide a place that could offer not only advice and information, but just plain ole companionship too. Sometimes a couple can get so caught up in the world of IF that you begin to feel isolated. You feel like the only people in the world in that situation.

I realized that real hope is believing your life can move on from infertility in one way or another. The blog needed to reflect that. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere. So I have changed the structure of this blog. Besides the new design and formatting, we will now offer topics that not only include infertility, but pregnancy, adoption, parenting, family health, and all of life’s little IFs. There will always be uncertainties and fears in any situation, but there is joy too. Hope and determination can move us on to the next step at any time. The IF may always be there, but so will the light. We just have to keep moving forward…