Part 3 in a 5-part series about postpartum body changes
I still looked pregnant when I left the hospital.
It takes about 6 weeks after delivery for your uterus to shrink back to normal. This phase was awkward, especially when my other kids asked if I still have a baby in my belly.
About 60% of new moms also have ab muscles that are overstretched and separated (a condition called diastasis recti). It can feel uncomfortable, hurt your posture, and be uncomfortable to look at.
My ab muscles felt like jelly (I couldn’t do a sit-up) and my belly looked like a walnut was sticking out of it when I laughed or flexed.
The important thing is to not make your situation worse. Doing sit-ups seem like it will help rebuild strength, but this is actually a terrible idea (trust me, I tried). You’ll need to avoid putting direct pressure on your stomach (a.k.a. forward flexion exercises), like crunches, sit-ups, or twists.
So, forget the gym. What you’ll need for this is physiotherapy.
A professional physiotherapist or books like Pamela Ellgen’s Mom’s Guide to Diastasis Recti can help you set an exercise routine. If your situation is extreme, then your doctor may suggest reconstructive surgery.
You’ll also come across other treatment options, but they have less established research to back them up.
I’ve seen studies on solutions ranging from belly binding (a.k.a. wearing a medical-grade wrap to hold it together) and acupuncture to my belly binding (a.k.a. wearing a medical-grade wrap to hold it together) and acupuncture to my favorite, electrical zaps.
Managing this type of belly bulge will also take time. A year after birth, roughly one-third of new moms are still recovering from diastasis recti.
This is part 3 of a 5-part series.
(Part 1) 4th-trimester shocks – A 5-part roadmap
(Part 2) Postpartum emotions — Swings take control
(Part 4) Sexual stuff… Baby, don’t tear me apart