Diastasis Recti? Not me. I'm a Pilates teacher!
After my children were born, I was really surprised to discover I had a pretty pronounced diastasis recti. This separation of the abdominal wall was such a blow to my Pilates ego! What?! I am a Pilates teacher; there’s no way I have to worry about such a thing. But I was in the middle of a Pilates roll up and I saw it! My abdomen had this strange bulge—a deformity really, that popped up whenever I went to flex forward from lying down. ACK!
Throughout pregnancy, it is important to recognize what is within your control and what isn’t. When it comes to growing a human being inside your body and getting it outside of you, there are a lot of variables. There is always the possibility to easily get pregnant, carry the baby to full term, go into labor and push a perfectly healthy baby out within 6 hours, who breastfeeds, instantly, like a champ. I’ve known a handful of women who could call that their story. I know many more who have experienced a challenge they never, ever anticipated and took every precaution to avoid. Sometimes, it just works out that way.
So let’s start from this point, that healing from birth can be very different from mom-to-mom and can have something you never saw coming. Healing can happen perfectly on its own, or you may need to consciously work toward the results you are seeking. Your healing might take more time than the mom next to you. Whatever your starting point, patience, knowledge and working with what is, will create the best outcome for you.
Our bodies are always trying to heal. Often we do something that gets in the way. Our eagerness to fix something quickly cannot override the natural process. As we work with new moms privately and in groups we encourage everyone to settle in and be patient. Many women come to Pilates a decade after having their kids with a hip problem or a lower back problem that likely began with pregnancy, got worse during the birth, and throughout caring for their kids, they simply ignored it. because Moms are busy! We have been working on ways to communicate the most valuable exercises to new moms so that they can perform them on their own and get their body’s integrity back on track. It’s so hard to just make it out of the house to a class and with just a few minutes of targeted exercises your can move your healing process along in a really healthy and lasting way.
Here are some quick tips to help the healing from a diastasis recti (which also translate to anyone with back pain or de-conditioned abdominals):
Breathe. Take time for thoughtful breathing as a physical practice. As you breathe in, release your abdominal wall and allow the diaphragm to descend. Your diaphragm descending from the base of your rib cage suctions air into your body. While pregnant your baby was kinda in the way so this motion needs to return to full function. As you exhale imagine your abdominal muscles drawing in toward your spine; imagine hugging your spine like you are trying on a tight pair of jeans. Take the time to feel that full exhale and deepen your awareness of this hugging action.
Practice sitting and standing tall. When we are tired we slouch and “pooch” out our abdominal wall. Sit or stand tall creating lots of space between your ribs and your pelvis. You may actually feel an automatic “hug” happening again.
Take time to be on all fours (hands and knees), like a baby crawling. While in this position, practice the two above ideas.
Whether you work at this at home, or in the gym or the studio, please make time to connect to your body. It might seem like your body doesn’t belong to you any more after having a baby, but I promise you, it does! Make time for it! You can love yourself and your baby at the same time.
We now have a home video series for bouncing back from pregnancy and birth, Minutes on the Mat for Moms, visit https://www.minutesonthemat.com.