Today my third and final baby is five months and I decided to celebrate by going out on my first long run since before he was conceived. It was 6 miles and it took me an hour and five minutes to complete, so no need to contact the good people at Guinness just yet. It was tough and I walked a bit, but I’m mega pleased with myself. My mind is clear after having had a chance to have some uninterrupted thoughts and I feel lighter for having done something without the baby.
At this point in my recovery it’s all about function; did my core feel like it was struggling to hold my insides in? No. Did my pelvic floor feel like it was impersonating a mini trampoline? No. Did I feel any pressure pushing down? No. Did I wet myself? No (isn’t motherhood majestic?) This to me is a big post natal win, but it hasn’t come naturally and I’ve had to focus on gentle, targeted, paced out exercise and movement to get me to this point.
In 2010 when I was around 5 months pregnant with my first baby I noticed my abdomen doming whenever I sat up, forming a central ridge. At first I dismissed it and put it down to strong core muscles reshaping due to my expanding bump and relatively low body fat.
Lots of research and three babies later I now know that this was the early stages of Diastatis Recti (split abs).
Post birth the doming continued, my core was incredibly weak and my back ached. When I lied on my back and felt my stomach there was a four finger gap between my abdominal muscles that run down the full length. Where there had previously been counter pressure of muscle tone when I pushed down, my fingers now disappeared deep down into abdominal cavity, particularly around my belly button. It was scary but my GP shrugged it off as having had a baby.
The separation of the abdominal muscles also meant that one year postpartum, and despite having lost a significant amount of baby weight, I still had a tummy pooch that was affecting my self esteem and the type of clothing I could confidently wear.
I researched and found an online exercise programme specifically designed for women suffering with postpartum issues like Diastatis Recti and the related pelvic organ prolapse (POP) called MuTu designed by Wendy Powell. Let’s just say that the things I learnt about my post baby body, the reasons for my conditions and how to safely repair them, have transformed my healing process after my second and third baby. Taking things slowly, working on strengthening my core, adjusting my alignment, have got me to the place where I can run 6 miles after delivering an 8.5lb baby only 5 months ago. Whilst others may be looking to have bikini bodies by this point, I’m feeling pretty darn grateful and chuffed to bits with my progress.