If I lie on my back first thing in the morning, there’s a large crater discernible in the middle of my body. It’s basically a pit, a hole created by my babies, widened and deepened by pregnancies in 2011 and 2013. You can stick a whole index finger in there, or a carrot stick if you wanted to. It’s not pretty, and by the end of the day the crater fills with food, and it looks like I’m 6 months pregnant again. That’s because my ab muscles have thinned with all the babies, and there’s nothing keeping my innards from protruding outwards. This is diastisis recti, and I’ve written about it before, here, here and here.
I still get emails from women who struggle with coming to grips that their bodies have inexorably changed after baby and reject the whole too bad, so sad, you’ve had a baby suck up your war wounds mantra that seems to be pervasive in popular culture. They kind of seem to know that they don’t have to just live with a flabby protruding stomach because they’ve given birth, and I’ve done my best to respond to every message but just today at the gym I talked to a lady who did not know that the giant hole in her midsection was not something she just needed to sigh about and accept.
I knew my abs would separate further after I repaired them post Jude: I am close to 40, after all, and I’m tall, and I had some pretty tight muscles in there that were bound to get strained again with all the back-to-back pressure. But I also know I can close that shit up again, and even though it’s vain and stupid and a propos of nothing of real value in my life…dammit I loved my 6 pack. And I’ll get it back.
For women who land here by googling “what the hell can I do about my giant post partum ab seperation” and “exercises for fixing diastisis”, here’s the thing.
1) Give yourself 5 months post partum to return to normal.
2) Healing the gap requires patient, unexciting exercises that include kegels and knee slides. It’s not exciting, at all. But you need to do them every goddamned day, for at least 15 minutes. If you can do them for 60 days in a row, I promise your abs will start to come together again. This video does a good job of showing you what you need to do.
3) Avoid situps of any kind immediately post partum. They will make your gap wider and worse.
4) Situps are actually really not good for you at all. Plank or do kegels instead.
I am now 8 weeks postpartum and will be posting pics every second week to monitor my progress toward rectified abs.