It’s been over five years since I got pregnant with my first. I’ve birthed three babies now and I have the mom-bod to prove it, and that, my friends, is precisely where this post comes in…
I have spent many a rushed ten minutes before leaving the house, frantically trying on eight different outfits before finding one that actually fits and doesn’t make me look 6 months pregnant. I do, you know. Look six months pregnant, that is. Oh yes, I do. You don’t believe me, do you? That’s because I am the suck-it-in expert. It’s true, and it’s exhausting. Allow me to (gulp) prove it to you. Introducing my 7-months-postpartum-for-the-third-time body:
That is my belly at exactly 7 months postpartum after my third child. Standing straight with muscles relaxed, not sucking it in at all. 38 squishy inches around my navel.
Until a few months ago, I believed that this was a relatively normal thing. The postpartum poochy belly that you’ve gotta tuck into your pants. The belly that still looks pregnant. Ugh. It’s embarrassing and shameful, and I am tired of the struggle to love myself and feel sexy and beautiful while also waiting for someone to mistakenly congratulate me on being preggers again.
Don’t get me wrong, I am profoundly grateful to my body. This body has brought forth three brand new sparkling humans with all of the grit and glorious transcendence of birthing and groaning. A body that bears witness to the spiritual event of creation and has been sagged and stretched and marked with silver lines. That is no small thing you know.
All three of them grew in my belly. No wonder it’s a bit worn out.
At the same time I know that I need to be fair to this body of mine. I want to be proud of my marks and lines that give whisper to my role in the co-creation of life, but I also want a flatter tummy and a little less jiggle in my behind. Are you pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down, my friends? I want both, and for the first time ever, I think I can actually have it.
A few months ago I learned about something called diastasis recti: an abdominal injury that causes several symptoms including a poochy belly that won’t go away, lower back pain, and slight urinary incontinence (we all know the pee-a-little-when-you-laugh-or-sneeze jokes among women who have given birth!). This is an actual injury where your abdominal muscles are separated and do not come back together on their own, and it can lead to much more serious health complications including bowel displacement, herniation, and prolapse. Bethany at Fit2B Studio has a video to show you how to check your belly for a diastasis. I checked mine a couple of months ago and found a separation of 3 finger-widths!
My first two births were attended by doctors, and my third was by a midwife. My doctors didn’t mention a single thing about this issue, my midwife at least checked my abs at my 6-week-postpartum appointment, but it wasn’t until a friend happened to mention diastastis that I googled it and gulped down the information like a thirsty person in the desert. My still-pregnant-looking belly is a medical condition? One that’s not my fault? One that can be healed?! My jaw hung open as I drank in the information I read at Fit2B.
What a lot of people don’t understand about this injury is that the traditional advice to do crunches actually makes things worse! Bethany explains it all on her site. Thankfully there is a way to heal from this injury. There are specific, gentle exercises that you can do to heal a diastastis recti, and I am embarking on a healing journey for myself, beginning today.
I am going to be blogging about my journey over the next few months as I do the exercises and try to heal and flatten my tummy. We’ll find out together if it really is possible!
I’m calling it The Postpartum Body Project, and this is Week One.
(Also, Bethany doesn’t list “de-jigglify your bum” on her list of benefits of using her exercises, but I’m definitely hoping it’ll be a bonus byproduct…)
This is my mission. To love myself, first, no holds barred, no jiggle left behind. Then, to do all that I can to heal my diastasis recti and get in shape (a shape other than round).
I’m going to love myself either way, that’s the non-negotiable here.
I’m inviting you along for the ride, as I blog my way through it. I have no idea what will happen. Maybe my belly will stay just as pregnant-looking as it does now. Maybe I’ll never shed my mom-butt. Maybe I’ll get a hot bod back just in time for beach weather. Maybe.
Either way it’ll be quite the adventure.
Do you think you may have a diastasis? Or are you just interested in gentle exercise that gets you in shape while also being kind to your body? Fit2B offers monthly memberships. It’s completely online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection! It’s just $9.99/month or $99/annually but for today’s giveaway you can win a 3-month membership FREE.
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I hope you’ll join me on this journey over the next few months as I blog my way through it! For more encouragement and information on healing diastasis, check out two of my blogging mama friends who are also embarking on this journey of diastasis healing. Emily at Live Renewed started hers a few weeks ago, and Erin at The Humbled Homemaker is starting hers today as well.