“I’m several years PP and just can’t seem to get rid of the mom pooch,” “I’d love to jump on the trampoline with my kiddos but the last time I did I peed and it was so embarrassing.” “Every time that I try to run since having my baby it seems like I tinkle just a little bit.”
All of the above statements or variations have been said to me by my mama friends, my postpartum clients, and posted online in mom support groups. What shocks me the most is not the incontinence. As we all know, most of our body related humility was left behind in the delivery room. But the common trend is that all these moms think these things are normal. That peeing their pants is the new reality, the mom pooch is inevitable, and pelvic instability is their fate.
Every pregnant woman will experience some degree of diastasis recti, that is the separation of their abdominal muscles. This is not a tearing of the abdominal wall but a stretching apart of the muscles which leads to poor core stability, disruption to pelvic floor function and in some cases low back pain.
The good news is there are several things you can do throughout pregnancy to protect the integrity of your core. There are also several exercises that you can do postpartum to rehab and shrink your degree of diastasis.
During pregnancy the number one activity I recommend to practice is diaphragmatic breathing.
While it is still comfortable you can perform this exercise while laying flat on your back, placing your hand on your belly button and breathing out in a way where you expand your belly and feel it rise against your palm.
As you get further along the same process can be repeated in a standing position. Tuck your hips to create a neutral spine, place your hand on your belly and breath against your palm.
In both instances we want to see as little rise in the chest as possible with our focus being on stabilizing our core and pelvis.
Recently a friend of mine had been experiencing debilitating back pain after the birth of her twin boys. She was an active mom prior to her core dysfunction riding horses, and raising her older children on a functioning farm. The pain interfered with her day to day so much that she could no longer carry her new babies.
As moms we tend to overlook our own self-care in an effort to meet the needs of those around us often to our own detriment. What I stress to any mom struggling to find the time to care for themselves is that if you ignore your own ‘check engine’ light the family vehicle will eventually shut down.
Postpartum pelvic health does not need to take an abundance of your time. If you take a proactive approach and begin a few simple exercises you can maintain and heal the integrity of your core.
My favorite postpartum exercise to begin in your first 6 weeks are:
After performing the above exercises and working on rehabilitation. That twin mom has had a noticeable improvement in her quality of life. Not only is she carrying her babies again; she is also able to saddle and ride horses pain free.