Oh what a life changing event is pregnancy and giving birth. Your little bundle of joy is amazing and while parenthood can be challenging at times, it’s definitely time to smoothly jump into your body con dresses.
But wait, there is one little challenge, you may or may not have worked out but that stomach just seems to have maintained a bulge. Now don’t get me wrong, some of us are happy with that little bulge and to be fair, it’s a welcome souvenir for some of us. But for the gals who are not happy with that bulge, this is for you.
Let me start by telling a little story. I gave birth at full term via C-section to a sweet baby boy and while I was thrilled to finally meet this little human whom I have been longing to meet; the morning after my surgery as I got up for my first walk, one of the first things I did was take a stroll over to the mirror. It was at this point I learned that it takes the uterus approximately six weeks to shrink back to it’s pr-pregnancy size. Now I did not know this, I was told this by a nurse after I almost had a “stroke” when I saw I still looked seven months pregnant. The panic in me was further intensified since I wouldn’t have been able to start working out until another six weeks.
On the bright side however, breastfeeding (while it can reek havoc on the breasts of some), it helps with the shrinking process of the uterus. My waist circumference stood at thirty eight inches three days after giving birth and at six weeks postpartum, it dropped to thirty three inches. While I was happy to lose five inches off my waist, I still was not satisfied and at my six week check up, I got the green light from my doctor to begin working out. But at two months postpartum, I only lost an additional half inch.
It was through research I came across this fancy term: Diastasis recti or abdominal muscle separation (AMS). I then discovered my rectus abdominis had vertically separated down the middle of my abdomen. As a result, any tedious abdominal workouts with effect made my separation worst, thus causing my stomach to continue to shift forward and outward, hence intensifying my bulge. This was definitely bad news at the time because I felt like a kielbasa in my body con dresses.
My way of rectifying AMS at three months postpartum has been to exercise my inner abdominal muscles as well as my pelvic floor muscles. What this has done is that it has significantly breached the gap between my rectus abdominis (the muscles that causes six packs). It’s a great feeling to be approaching my goal of a twenty-nine inch waist circumference. At present I stand at thirty inches, in two weeks I have lost two and a half inches off my waist and I have managed to almost completely close my ab gap.
Tips for a flat stomach are:
- Breastfeed – not only does breastfeeding help to get you back in shape but it also is great for the well-being of your baby.
- Check for AMS at six weeks postpartum once the green light is received from your doctor and you have heeled well – this is done in a lying position with knees bent and feet on the ground. The idea is to begin to do a crunch but don’t quite get there, once the abdominal muscles have contracted place one and then two fingers at your belly button. What you look for is a ditch or gap right at that area, then move your fingers upwards toward the rib cage and down toward the pelvic region. What we are now trying to decipher is the length and width of the gap. Once two fingers or more can fit between your abdominal muscles then it’s likely you have AMS.
- The next step is to begin workouts – Lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground, what you want to do is to flatten you spine to the ground (once we lie on the floor our backs are usually slightly arched). The next step is the compress your inner muscles toward your back without contracting your butt and thigh muscles. This is a very small movement so you’ll know your are doing ti correctly if your stomach looks dome shaped from aside. Do this as often as you feel comfortable and don’t forget to practice good breathing.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or fitness expert. This is what has worked for me so feel free to do your own research and speak with your doctor before attempting any exercises after giving birth.
See you at my next post.