So it has now been 4 weeks since I gave birth to Maddison.. and I know I say it a lot BUT bloody hell does time fly?! Yet in that short space of time, I have already experienced such a change in my body! If you follow me on Instagram you would've seen me talk briefly about my postpartum journey so far and promise to keep you all updated. So now I'm going to delve into a little more detail about my experience and will keep you posted as I continue to get back into my training routine!
After you give birth, your midwife will come round and prod your belly. 1, to check your uterus is slowly going back down and 2, to feel if you have an abdominal split. I think given the size of my baby bump, I was a little naive and should've expected I would have some sort of an abdominal split, but this is all new to me! I didn't know if I was supposed to be able to feel the split or what?! I remember lying in my hospital bed (roughly 10 hours after giving birth), and feeling all these lumps in my wobbly, half deflated belly.. what on earth is that?! I was shocked to be informed that those 'lumps' I could feel were in actual fact my organs, such as my uterus and bowels, wobbling around because my abdominals had split 4cm!! Meaning there was actually no layer of muscle protecting them just a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place, hence why I could so vividly feel them!!! YUK!! I'm not going to lie, this idea totally FREAKED me out and I felt kind of sick.. who wants to be able to feel their organs rolling around after everything my bodies just been through giving birth?!?!
The technical name for split abdominals from pregnancy is Diastasis Recti, "Diastasis" meaning separation and "Recti" referring to your abdominal muscles called the "rectus abdominis" (which are basically the big ones down the middle that give you that 6 pack look!) While many women's abdominals do split, but they are apparently only considered as proper Diastasis Recti if the gap between the muscles is over 3cm! So yes, I got it! Not unfix-able though!! It just means that my recovery time and journey back to training/exercise will take longer than if someone had only split 1 cm! The first day at home after giving birth the midwife came round to see how we were all getting on, it was then when I was told about my 4 cm ab gap! The only information I was given was to wear some supportive but not restrictive spanx (sexy...) and to avoid using my core AT ALL!! So no heavy lifting, use my hands to get up and down, roll onto my side when getting in and out of bed.. etc. This to me just seemed impossible?! To 100% not use your core at all?! We naturally use our core in everyday movements without even thinking, so how on earth I was supposed to do that, I just couldn't get my head around it! I felt so disheartened and I guess disabled in a weird way..? As if I was going to remember every time I get up and down NOT to use my core, when all I want to do is rush over to comfort my crying baby?!
Because of all this abdominal pa-larva, these first 4 weeks with Maddison I have kind of let my body slowly do it's own thing "deflating" back down to normal. I have just taken motherhood into my stride and been totally chilled, enjoying being at home in my pjs cuddling and caring for my newborn!! I truly have let myself be absorbed into the "Newborn Bubble"!!! 10 days after giving birth, I was discharged from midwifery care as my uterus have fully gone down, meaning I've been able to go on a few walks with Maddison in the pram but I've not really gone for any longer than an hour at a time. This is literally as much as I had been told I am allowed to do and that I was being referred for Physiotherapy to help with the recovery of my abdominal split.
Being the eager bugger that I am.. I didn't have the patience to wait for an NHS physio referral. If there was something I could be doing now to help my abdominals, I wanted to know! And if I had to wait longer, that's fine to but again I wanted to know where I stand! So I decided to make an appointment at The Bosworth Clinic here in Oxfordshire. Yes, I'd have to pay, but personally I believe that you can't put a price on your health and well-being! We only get ONE body and ONE life to live.. so you better look after it properly!! I already knew Bosworth had an amazing reputation and great physios and I have even sent some of my clients there who have been injured in the past! If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen on my stories that I had that first initial appointment yesterday and I have a good selection of Pilates exercises I can now start doing to help my tummy!! Coming from a ballet background, I feel very lucky that I already have a good understanding and knowledge of Pilates, so I know what I'm doing and what to look out for when working! I will share all these exercises and more details about this next part of my postpartum journey in Part 2.. (So stay tuned!!)
Anyway, back to these past 4 weeks... I think the biggest things that have helped my body recover so far is breastfeeding and clean eating! As mentioned in my breastfeeding blog post (CLICK HERE TO READ), I am currently only breastfeeding Maddison and doing the odd pump so we have an emergency bottle handy that Josh can feed her with! And breastfeeding really does help loose a lot of the "baby weight" as it burns a lot of calories! For my diet I have obviously not gone "cold turkey" and deprived myself of treats or anything indulgent! I have relaxed and enjoyed myself, and made the most of the little things that I couldn't have while pregnant - hellooooo sushi!!! But I have mainly gone back to my normal/clean diet I have when training and before I got pregnant and became ridiculously fussy with awkward hormonal taste-buds! I know use the term "clean eating" it can sometimes seem a bit vague if you want more specific details! So as some of you have asked what I eat, here is a rough example of a typical day...
Going to sound like a typical Personal Trainer now (sorry!)... But DIET really does make a massive difference to weight-loss! Yes exercise is great, but if your diet is rubbish then you're "flogging a dead horse"! So knowing that I couldn't exercise, healthy eating has been vital to my journey so far. Clean eating for me is not about restricting yourself calorie wise, I personally NEVER count calories and have NEVER tracked my Macros in my life! (Macro-nutrients: Carbs, Fat, Protein). For me it is just simply avoiding processed foods and not having too much sugar! And that includes fruit sugars - that always catches people out! I would never do a smoothie/juice diet! I am someone who would always rather chew my food and have a satisfied full belly haha!!
So that has been my journey so far for the past 4 weeks! Breastfeeding, clean food, a few walks and letting my body naturally "deflate"! Not a lot, I know.. but I am really looking forward to the next 4 weeks now I have been given the all clear to start some exercises for my Diastasis Recti recovery!! Right now, I am more concerned about helping my abdominals come back together than necessarily loosing fat and being able to lift heavy weights again! I know that will come with time, pregnancy is SUCH a big thing for the female body to go through and it takes 9 months to grow a human.. so we shouldn't put so much pressure on ourselves to "snap back" into shape after a matter of a few weeks! Every women's body carries a baby differently, so we shouldn't compare our bodies and expect them all to recover at the same rate!! Stay strong and LOVE your mummy-body, we should be PROUD of what it has achieved - we've grown a beautiful little life!! I am so unbelievably proud of how I have come to accept my new stretch marks and shape, especially after looking back on my ballet days and how image was such an important (and a bit controlling) part of my life! It is now about just being healthy and happy!!
I love hearing all your stories and if anyone is on a similar journey to me! Anyone else have Diastasis Recti? How long did it take you to recover? I'm really looking forward to sharing the next part of this journey with you and if my story can help anyone else out in a similar boat then that's a bonus!! PART 2 WILL BE UP IN THE NEXT 4 WEEKS....
Feel free to comment below or contact me via the Social Page! Love x