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My belly still looked pregnant after the birth of my first child. Six months postpartum, I still looked like I was eating for two and was getting frustrated. Especially given that I had lost the baby weight and had been dieting and working out like a mad woman.
Turns out I had a condition called diastasis recti or abdominal separation. During pregnancy, a woman’s abdomen muscles spread out, creating a gap or “split” down the center of the belly. This generally closes up naturally after childbirth but when it doesn’t, it creates an appearance of a pooch belly.
Not only is this unsightly for a lot of women, but it’s also bad news for posture, back and ab support, and in some cases can even be painful. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are an estimated 3 million cases of diastasis recti every year, making it very common. And while surgery can correct this chronic condition, it’s not always necessary.
To figure out if you have diastasis recti, you can do a simple test.
By lying flat on your back, knees up and hands behind your head, get into a basic crunch position so that your head is lifted and your abs are engaged. From there, using your fingertips of one hand, push into your abdominal center line starting at your navel. You will feel your ab muscles on either side, what you’re looking for is how wide your gap is; anything over one finger width wide is considered abdominal separation. Follow your center line above and below your navel to know where the separation is located.
There are many exercises that you can do help begin to heal and repair your diastasis recti.
Thankfully, there are now many resources online, at your local library, and at your doctor’s office to help you create a simple plan that can support your path toward closing your gap. Remembering to be mindful about practicing good posture, being careful how you lift any weights including your baby or even grocery bags and giving yourself time are the most important parts of healing. When you’re ready to test out some workout routines there are a few great methods you can find from the Dia method, the Tupler Technique, to the inspiring bloggers you can hire like Instagram sensation Melanie Darnell of @fitmomma4three who offers classes with updated movements not found in other more traditional methods of fixing a diastasis recti.
You don’t have to force yourself through punishing diets and workout regimens to get rid of the mom pooch belly. A simple and relatively easy program can help you heal your gap in a matter of weeks.
Motherhood is demanding enough that piling on the additional stress or guilt over not having a pre-pregnancy figure seems unfair. Just like learning how to adjust to life with your new beautiful baby, your mom bod will need time to adjust and heal too. So, go easy on yourself. Remember that in time, your body really will come back to whatever is normal for you.
Read more about your post-baby body
- 21 Things Only Moms Who Have Had C-Sections Know
- I’m Not Stressing About My Post-Baby Body Anymore
- The Shocking But Totally Normal Changes Your Body Goes Through Postpartum