20 Nov Is My Body After Baby Normal?
When I was pregnant with my first son three years ago, I wasn’t sure how motherhood would change my body. I knew many women were unhappy with their body after baby, but I was certain this wouldn’t be me. After all, I had seen celebrities like Kate Middleton leaving the hospital in their pre-baby clothes.
But it is not that simple. Pregnancy and childbirth causes physical, hormonal, and emotional changes. Even though women may seem fine on the outside, they could be struggling with issues that cannot easily be seen.
According to a babycenter.com survey of 7000 postpartum women, 65% say their body image has decreased after having a baby.
After having my son, I certainly felt this way. I didn’t feel like myself. My belly pooched out and was so weak, I could hardly get out of bed. Was this just “normal” after having a baby?
Fortunately, it is NOT normal to have belly pooching and weakness after baby. In fact, it could be a sign of a very common condition called diastasis recti–or more simply, abdominal separation.
Diastasis recti happens when the pressure inside the belly is so great, that it tears the tissue that connects your abdominal muscles. It is so common that studies show up to 80% of women have it! Since it is not painful, most women do not know they have it. They just accept certain side effects such as mummy tummy, urinary incontinence and back pain.
When I found out I had diastasis recti, I was relieved to have a diagnosis, but confused about a treatment. Would I have this abdominal separation forever? Fortunately, I found a Physical Therapist that specializes in the postpartum body and she trained me to heal with her 12 week program.
Women are used to accepting certain parts of the postpartum experience as normal. But even when a condition is common, that does not mean it is normal.
Here are three common postpartum conditions associated with diastasis recti that are not normal: (good news: they can be healed!)
Belly Pooch–Many women think they will have a mummy tummy forever after having a baby. This is not true! The mummy tummy may be a sign of abdominal separation known as diastasis recti. Fortunately this condition can be healed with proper treatment–I know because I healed mine!
Urinary Incontinence–It is very common to have urinary incontinence after baby, but it is a sign that your pelvic floor muscles are weak. There are strengthening exercises that can give you bladder control. Just because it is common does not mean it is normal!
Back Pain–So many women have back pain after baby. Often, it is not a sign of a back problem, but is related to a weak core or abdominal separation. Strengthening your core will help relieve back pain!
Women are bombarded with images of celebrities in flawless post-baby bodies. It is hard to know if what you are experiencing is normal. But I want women to know they are not alone, and there is hope for healing and strengthening your post baby body.
According to that same babycenter.com survey of 7000 postpartum women, 87% are say their stomach has not returned to normal after baby.
I know I felt this way–with a belly that felt like dough, unable to contract or perform simple abdominal exercises. But once I learned the right way to strengthen my abs and heal the separation, I now feel stronger than ever!
Being a mum doesn’t ruin your body. It may change things, but just as an athlete would rehab an injury, women should rehab their bodies that have been through the strain of growing and birthing a baby!
Now as I follow the flawless Kate Middleton’s third pregnancy, I know not to compare myself. Her normal may not be my normal. But that is okay. Mums aren’t ruined or broken–they just need to give their bodies the time and therapy to heal and become healthy and strong.
About the Author:
Monica is a mother to two boys. She helps mums heal abdominal separation known as diastasis recti at abs-after-baby.com. Her mission is for all mums to love their body after baby just as much–or more than before!