“So, when are you due? I don’t normally ask, but you have the most darling little belly,” asked the woman working at the retail store in the fitting room. It was the second time I had heard that in the last weeks prior to this incident. I was so hurt internally, that in order to avoid bursting into tears and tell the truth that would embarrass us both, all I could say was, “Oh, I’m not very far along” and quickly took my stack of clothes into the dressing room. The reason I was so hurt? I wasn’t pregnant. In fact, my daughter was one year old and I was there trying to find a pair of jeans that better hide my “belly.”
I’ve had three babies in four years. With the amount of weight I have gained and lost each time, along with sustaining life inside of me and outside of me in breastfeeding, I look at my body in the mirror now in complete awe of creation. What an incredible miracle conception, pregnancy, birth, and infants are! The blessings and gravity of what I have been a part of is not lost on me. I am truly grateful.
However, it does not mean that there are not challenges. I have had relatively easy pregnancies and recoveries postpartum. And, yet, I still struggle with the changes in my body. In each of my pregnancies I have continued to stay active and eat relatively healthy. I love to walk/run around the beautiful neighborhoods of Saint Paul and take classes at Blooma. Postpartum life brings even more walks with babies, early morning runs, and yoga practices.
But after my second baby, I found that it was really hard to get rid of my “mom pooch.” I was slimming down and getting stronger everywhere else, but I could not get my belly any flatter. In the midst of diapers, toddlers, working part time, and keeping up with the house, I couldn’t find or make the time to do anything about it. I kept thinking that maybe it was the extra ten pounds I had kept on during breastfeeding, like with our first child, until I had weaned him. So, when it didn’t come off when I weaned our second, I started researching if it was something more than baby weight. That’s when I found out about diastasis recti. It’s the natural ab separation that happens when you are pregnant. However, mine, like many women, failed to knit back together postpartum. Thus, the pooching belly. There are a lot of variables how and why this happens, but it’s still there.
By the time that I truly realized that it was a problem and there was something that I could do to fix it and work on it, I was pregnant again. After having our second son this past April, I immediately started Google-ing videos and exercises that could help me work on this condition. I found a lot of different information, all promising to pull in the “mom pooch.” It wasn’t until this past week, when I went to Karin Trigg’s Abdominals: Before and After Birth Workshop at Blooma that I truly felt I received a comprehensive presentation on diastasis recti and how to help it. She went over the anatomy of the body, how and why this separation can happen, breathing and exercises on how to lessen it within our own bodies, and plenty of encouragement and empowerment that we can be our strongest selves, even after being a vessel for another human for so long. Since this workshop, I have tried to dedicate five to eight minutes a day to work on the exercises Karin gave us. Some days I have to wake up even earlier just to make sure I get the exercises in, but it’s helping. And, I can only hope that it continues to help. I strongly encourage any woman, pregnant or not, to try Karin’s class, even if only to learn more about diastasis recti and how to protect your core.
I realize that I may never look like I did when I was at my smallest, but that was before my body had given life to three other human beings. And, for those miracles, I will be happy with however my body looks, as long as I’m staying healthy and active.
Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work