We all know that intimate relationships look different after you have a baby. How have your ideas about what is romantic changed now that you have kids? We want to hear from you! Click the links below to find Proud Mama Support Services on your favorite social media. Use the hashtag #afterbabyvalentine and #proudmamasupport and let us know what your postpartum Valentine's Day card would say!
When you hear "core strengthening" what comes to mind? For me, it's an image of someone with a defined six-pack doing 100 crunches on a ball, grimacing, and holding their breath. You may have seen blogs and articles targeting postpartum moms and encouraging them to work on their abs to gain core strength again through exercises that target the rectus abdominus muscles.
Approximately 2/3 of women develop diastasis recti during pregnancy, a separation of the two sides of the rectus abdominus along the linea alba. Pregnancy isn't the only reason why a person might develop a diastasis, but it is a common cause. If you have developed a diastasis from pregnancy, the first step of gaining core strength afterward is to connect with deep core stabilizer muscles and retrain your body to return to ideal alignment, NOT to work on your six-pack muscles.
If you have a diastasis, these are things you want to avoid:
-Rounding forward down through the spine or "scooping" your abs
-Any movement where you lift your head up using your abs while you are on your back.
-Any exercise where your feet at at "table top," or out in a classic Pilates "V."
-Lifting or bending and twisting with a rounded spine (emptying the dishwasher, for instance, or getting the car seat in/out of the car).
-Avoid full range of motion during cat/cow-type exercises.
All of the movements above can increase the separation of your rectus abdominus muscles ("six-pack muscles"), and you don't want to be doing a targeted strengthening of those muscles if they are not in the proper position. Strengthening them won't make them come back together. Wait until the gap closes again before thinking about working on a six-pack.
Try to focus on these kinds of movements and exercises instead:
-HINGE from your hips instead of rolling through your spine. Put your weight in your heels and use your glutes and your hamstrings to pull yourself up.
-Draw belly in toward spine when picking things up. Maintain neutral spine (don't tuck pelvis).
-Use your hands to support the front of your belly if your internal organs press out when lifting/bending.
-Log roll out of bed, to get up from the floor, etc.
-Do simple pelvic curls instead of deep abdominal scooping
-Side-lying abdominal work (targets the obliques) is fine, as are exercises that engage your transversus abdominus and your other deep stabilizer muscles.
-You may want to consider abdominal binding in your initial postpartum period to help support your core and encourage those muscles to come closer together again.
If you find that at three to six weeks postpartum you still have a separation wider than 2.5 finger-widths, please request a referral for women's health physical therapy from your provider. Significant separation can lead to long term back pain and core instability, and increases your chance of injury. Mamalates classes are diastasis-recti-safe, so they are a great place to start whether or not your separation is severe enough to warrant PT.
Our next mamalates series class starts February 29 at Live Well Studio. Are you ready?
Not sure if you have a diastasis? Check out the video below. Do you have more questions? We can help.
Whether you had an unmedicated home birth, a planned c-section, somewhere in between, or met your child another way, research shows that you will never forget that day. Many women retain very vivid memories of small details from being in labor: a particular smell that was gone in a flash and only you noticed, the feel of a blanket over your shoulders, the way a candle flame flickered, or a repeating thought that kept going through your head, the warmth from your partner's breath in your ear as they stayed with you through every contraction. These details often stay with women even decades after giving birth.
This was me ten weeks postpartum. I posted the following on Facebook because I was having a rough day accepting my new role as a mother and how relentlessly demanding and lonesome it is sometimes. My community rallied around me via many comments of support, for which I am so grateful. Have you found support through social media when you feel overwhelmed and isolated?
I believe postpartum women deserve support with the "little" things that they would have no trouble doing if not for just having had a baby. I know how hard it is sometimes to feel like what you are doing is valuable and worth so much time and attention. I know that feeling of, "Ah! I'm not getting anything done and it's freaking me out!" I know what its like to go suddenly from the fast-paced and highly productive career-driven world most of us are used to to the zero-miles-per-hour pace of caring for a newborn. The not-doing of postpartum parenting can be mind-numbing, boring, and might feel really really wrong if you are used to doing so much more. But as my friends and community reminded me in this comment thread, there is no one else who can do what you are doing for your baby, and there's nothing else you need to be doing that is more important than caring for her/him. Newborns don't last. New mama, I see you, and you ARE doing enough!
Come join the community of support on our Facebook page!
Usually in our culture, when we show weakness, we lose respect from people. As your postpartum doula, I will very likely see you at some of your worst moments. I'll see you as you really are, and what you really look like when you've just gotten out of bed. But here's my promise to you: I promise I will respect you, your home, your relationships, and your choices because they are YOURS. My job is to support you without judgement. I won't judge you for what your hair looks like in the morning, and I won't judge what you want to eat for breakfast, even if it's three cupcakes. I won't push a particular parenting style on you, and I will support you in whatever way you choose to feed your baby. When you are feeling weak, unsure, and lacking confidence, I will show you respect and I will believe in you and your ability to move into your new role as a parent. You are awesome and you can do this!