With my first born, losing the baby weight was very easy. I toned back up very quickly after easing back into my workouts. Lubing up my belly everyday in cocoa butter, while pregnant, was well worth it too as I avoided the dreaded stretch marks. I was in great shape before my first pregnancy, which I think helped speed the process along a bit. I considered myself lucky because I thought I would feel very self conscious in the aftermath of having a baby. However, I bounced back quickly and I felt much like myself before baby.
Now, with my second child, things have not come so easily in the weight loss and toning up department (which I keep being told is totally normal). I knew from the beginning I would have some odds against me because I was not in the best shape of my life before having K. Due to our infertility problems, I was told moderate exercise was fine. However, doing anything more could be too much at that time and hinder our chances of procedures working. It was especially important to me to take a break from intense workouts when I started the IVF process because I just needed to relax and not stress my body out. My doctors did not want my heart rate to exceed 140 beats per minute and there were specific things that were just off limits anyways. I guess you could say my only focus was making our dreams of a baby a reality. Working out to lose weight or stay toned was not my priority. Instead, I listened to my doctors orders to a T and in that time gained about 7 extra pounds. A factor in my also gaining weight was also due to some of the infertility medications I was on.
Once I was pregnant again, I did the same daily lube routine of putting cocoa butter on my ever growing belly and crossed my fingers luck would be on my side and I would not get stretch marks. Praise the Lord, it worked! I did not have any stretch marks on my belly again! However, I did notice some on the inner parts of my thighs and outside of my buttocks (light and not deep at least). With those new and noticeable flaws on my body it was a bit to take in, even though they were slight changes. I knew that I would need to accept them and focus on being proud of what my body went through and accomplished. There’s not much you can do about stretch marks.
It wasn’t the stretch marks that bothered me the most though, it was the pooch. With my first, I had a pooch as well and I looked about 5 months pregnant after having her. It took about 3 months for my belly to go down and back to my regular sized tummy. However, while doing exercises this time around I’ve noticed something remotely different about this pooch. If I lay on my back and press my fingers on my abs there is a gap or what feels like a separation of my ab muscles. If I get in a plank position, the pooch goes in this awkward cone-like shape. After more research, I did a little self diagnosis and I am convinced I have what is called Diastasis Recti. Ah, Crap!
Diastasis Recti is basically a separation of the large abdominal muscles. Apparently, this is a very common occurrence after having a second child. However, there are other factors that can also play a role in this condition. The reason this term came to mind when I was trying to figure out what the heck was different about my pooch this time around was because I remember Heidi Powell (trainer and transformation specialist on ABC’s Extreme weight Loss) talking about her personal journey with Diastasis Recti. If it were not for remembering her talking about it, I would have had no clue what I was dealing with and about to face. Never in a million years did I think I would be dealing with this too. Heidi also has a wonderful blog post about this very issue. If you are interested in checking it out, please click the following link:
What I am learning about this condition is that exercises you may be doing that you think are helping close the gap, may actually be making it worse, such as sit ups and planks. There are exercises you can do that can help close the gap (but may never make it close completely), such as toe taps and pelvic tilts. Heidi also has a youtube video about closing the gap. In the video she demonstrates 5 exercises that help to improve the separation, please click the following link to view the video:
My babies are my world and I appreciate what my body did to bring them into this world. However, I still want to feel good in my own skin. Currently, I do not feel good in my own skin, although I am slowly trying to get there. Just like making a baby takes time, I realize getting back to a place I feel good in, will also take time. I try not to be too hard on myself. Like anything though, some days are better then others. Surprisingly, I did not think it would be this hard to bounce back the second time around, but it is. Diastasis Recti is a term I am learning more and more about. Although, I may never be able to fix this issue 100%, I am hoping to make noticeable improvements with a little hard work and dedication. I will keep you posted on how it goes!
In the meantime, I’m trying to learn the tricks and trades of hiding my pooch via clothing (maybe a topic for a blog post in the future). This is hard, because I’ve always worn tighter fitting tops and have never had to worry about a pooch (except after a really good meal and having a food baby). Trying to find different clothing that better suits my body type right now is also proving to be difficult. I feel like I need a stylist because I still gravitate towards styles that I am used to. It’s when I try clothing on, and they don’t fit right, that I become a tad depressed and want to just cry. Ultimately, I give up and walk out of the store. I am dreading the change of seasons for this reason, because Spring means less articles of clothing worn. Right now it’s pretty easy to hide my pooch, but come Summer it will be much more difficult with even less articles of clothing worn. I’ve never really had body image issues (minor things here and there) and suddenly I do. It’s strange and a new place for me to me in. I don’t like feeling like this about myself. This pooch has got to go!
Talk to me about your after baby body flaws. Is Diastasis Recti a part of your life after having children? What do you do to make yourself feel better about your body image? What kind of clothing tricks to you have to hide your body flaws? What exercises or workout programs have worked for you in toning up and getting in better shape after baby? What dietary changes have you had to incorporate in helping your body get back into shape and healthy? I’d love to hear from you!