Woah, how fast these last few weeks have gone! Feels like I was literally writing Part 1 of this blog only yesterday! But here it is, as promised, the next part of my postpartum journey, filling you all in on my split abdominal recovery now that I have started physiotherapy and how my body is recovering generally! This blog post will be covering weeks 5-8 and there has been a lot going on for my little body! (You will already have some idea of what I'm talking about if you have read my last couple of blog posts!) Weeks 5 and 6, I was so happy with the progress I was making and slowly starting to feel my muscles working again. Weeks 7 and 8 though, I feel like my progress had come to a halt in terms of exercise...
So, I left you all at 4 weeks postpartum. I'd discovered I had a 4cm abdominal split and was just about to start physio to help that. All I had been doing so far was relaxing, enjoying the time as a new mummy with Maddison, breastfeeding and clean eating. So the progress I'd achieved so far had more or less all been my body naturally returning back on its own...
I have now had 3 physio sessions over the past 4 weeks. The first 2 sessions I had privately (as mentioned in Part 1) because I didn't want to just sit there waiting and not knowing when the NHS physio appointment was going to come through.. if there was something I could be doing to help my body recover sooner, I wanted to know!! In session 1, I was given the all clear to start doing some deep core Pilates exercises to start helping my abdominal muscles come back together, and also a few other exercises to reactivate my glutes, hamstrings and arm muscles. If I wanted to do some cardiovascular work, I was told best sticking to nice long walks with the pram for now but I could try some steady spinning (which I am still yet to try because I'm a little anxious of how comfortable a bike seat will actually be after giving birth.. if you know what I mean ladies?!?!!) Although it's not much, it was nice knowing I could start doing a few bits and bobs again after such a long time not training or doing exercise!! I was a happy lady!! I was also advised to try and massage down the centre of my tummy where the split was, this was to help breakdown any scar tissue that might be under there! (I normally do this in the evening lying in bed before going to sleep using a bit of Bio Oil.)
The main core exercises that I have been told to focus on postnatal are my deep core/transverse muscles. No way do I want to be doing millions of crunches!!! So the best exercises for me to be doing seem really simple (as there is not much movement) but its a really deep connection, and a lot of women do struggle to get it right initially just because it's a different sensation! As I said in Part 1, looking back I am very thankful for all my years of ballet training, so I am very familiar with all these exercises and understand what they should feel like to do them properly! So I guess that's given me a little bit of a head start you could say!! So my current core Pilates programme consists of...
Now onto weeks 7 and 8.. totally different story! So if you read my 6 week update blog (CLICK HERE TO READ) you would've known my doctor discovered that I had some retained placenta post birth as I was still bleeding, which is kind of the main reason why my exercise routine went on hold temporarily!! So I had to go in and have that surgically removed, would bleed a little more, then finally start feeling back to normal and my uterus could fully contract back down to normal size. Now, I wasn't officially told I couldn't do my Pilates routine post surgery, I was only told not to do any heavy lifting for a couple of weeks (which I was avoiding anyway due to my split abdominals!) But I did take the opportunity to rest and let my uterus naturally finish returning back down to size. WOW did I notice the difference!! Literally I could see and feel the change in my tummy within 24 hours?! The doctor has said I had about a 3cm clump left behind, which is like being 12 weeks pregnant - crazy!! So of course I felt the difference!
Anyway, I took the chance to rest till I felt up to facing my exercises again. In all honesty I kind of took the piss a little bit and really felt like I'd lost my mojo. I just couldn't motivate myself to do my exercises!! I knew they were good for me and I needed to do them to help my abs recover, but I just couldn't focus! Whenever Maddison was sleeping I'd rather sleep myself or keep on top of the housework! It is never like me to struggle with motivation, I'm normally such a go-and-get-it type of girl! And it was only 20 minutes out of 1440 minutes in a day - Get it together Bethany!!!
By this point (8 weeks postpartum) my NHS physio referral had come through, and although I already had the right recovery programme I went along anyway - it's always good to have a second opinion!! The physio's at the hospital were so lovely and kind and really impressed with what I had been doing to date! I was totally honest with them while explaining my journey so far and that I had already started some physio exercises, which they completely understood given my dancing/fitness background! So I hopped onto the physio bed so they could give my tummy a prod to feel my split.. and wait for it.. my 4cm split has now gone down to 1cm!!!!!!! YESSSS!!! I was over the moon! My exercises so far had really paid off! (I mean it might have been helped now my uterus is back to normal also..) but still - I was so shocked and amazed when they told me! The physio's at hospital were so pleased for me and said to keep doing what I'm doing, then once I'm passed the 12 week mark I can slowly start going to the gym properly again!! WAHOO!! Now that's the kick up the butt and motivational boost I needed to get back on with it! So today I got back on with my exercises this morning, despite fighting a cold - grr! and really feel like I've got my mojo back!!
If you have read my most recent blog about breastfeeding (CLICK HERE TO READ) you would know I have had to change my diet up a little to help with my milk supply. So of course I will share my current diet with you because healthy eating is SO essential regardless of wanting to loose some of the baby weight. Here is an updated (higher carb intake) guide of what I might typically eat in a day.. Although because of this cold I've currently got, I have lost my appetite a little, so will probably notice a decrease in my milk supply over the next few days.. (dammit!) NOTE: I would've stuck to the same diet I shared in Part 1 with you all if I wasn't struggling with my milk, as that's what I would normally eat day-to-day pre-pregnancy. However, for me I have found higher carbs really helps! And I have now been able to go back to exclusively breastfeeding!! So that's what I've gone with!!
So next time I check in with you all for Part 3, I will be 12 weeks postpartum!! My diet will probably still be the same as it is now because I intend on breastfeeding till Maddison is least 6 months old! But I will be starting some sessions in the gym and I plan on sharing all my workouts with you, so watch this space...!!
To all my other mummys with Diastasis Recti, I'd love to know how you're getting on post birth? How long did it take you to recover? Hope the list of exercises helps anyone who is unsure!! Feel free to comment below or message me via the social page! Love x