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New Mom? 3 Things to know about your NEW CORE

After having my baby, I couldn’t help feeling similar to, well, a deflated balloon. My core looked like it was trying to go in two separate directions with every movement, and tasks like simply rolling over in bed were still difficult. Of course, I was proud of what my body had accomplished, but I couldn’t help but wonder, wasn’t moving supposed to be easier after delivery?


As new moms, our cores went through so much to get to delivery, and sometimes they need a little extra love recovering from it. So we must give ourselves and our abdominals some grace, patience, and understanding while looking at real-life statistics.


Here are 3 things you need to know about your postpartum core:


1.Abdominal Separation after Delivery is Very Normal

Diastasis Recti, or the midline abdominal muscle separation that you might notice when looking in the mirror, is the majority of the reason why we feel so weak in those first few months postpartum. It is so common, in fact, that 66-100% of pregnant women in their 3rd trimester begin to show signs of Diastasis Recti! For those lucky enough to get through pregnancy without abdominal separation, 53% of women get it during delivery due to the hard work of pushing a baby out. So rest assured, with the majority of moms going through this, you (and I) are definitely not alone.


Why is this Important to Know??

Think of two people trying to hold hands from a longer than preferable distance apart. That is what your core muscle fibers are feeling in a nutshell. Diastasis Recti significantly alters the way your core functions, and for many women, it does NOT spontaneously heal on its own. Diastasis Recti has also been correlated to chronic back pain, which is also a very common problem postpartum.


BUT HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS:


2.Diastasis Recti is Treatable with Exercise

Specific retraining techniques including what is called “deep core activation” have been proven to decrease that abdominal separation, decrease low back pain, improve posture, balance, increase a new mom's confidence and overall quality of life!


So how can we begin activating our deep core??


3. Correct Breathing is Your Core’s Best Friend

“Diaphragmatic breathing”, or full torso breathing, is the first way to begin engaging those deep core muscles that will start healing the abdominal separation.


Here is a simple exercise you can begin with: Think about your core as now a strong balloon, open end on top. The top of the balloon, your chest, does not move. As you inhale, the balloon expands on all sides. As you exhale, the balloon lets the air out, doing so by contracting all sides towards the midline (or your spine). You can begin practicing this as soon as your new babe has taken their first breath!

When re-discovering how to move in your new body, NEVER settle pain and weakness.


As a Physical Therapist, I encourage you to reach out to either myself or a local postpartum PT as soon as four weeks post vaginal delivery or six weeks post-Cesarean. Although, it is never too late to start your healing journey, even if reading this with a teenager and a 10-year-old.


Physical therapists are a tremendous resource to help you relearn how to move in your NEW body without discomfort. We are here to help you reach your goals because you deserve to feel extraordinary.


Website: NaptimePT.com

Instagram: @naptimePT


Author: Kiri Krishingner, PT, DPT, PPCES


Sources:

Thabet AA, Alshehri MA. Efficacy of deep core stability exercise program in postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis: a randomized controlled trial. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2019 Mar 1;19(1):62-68. PMID: 30839304; PMCID: PMC6454249.

Van Kampen M, Devoogdt N, De Groef A, Gielen A, Geraerts I. The efficacy of physiotherapy for the prevention and treatment of prenatal symptoms: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J. 2015 Nov;26(11):1575-86. doi: 10.1007/s00192-015-2684-y. Epub 2015 Mar 31. PMID: 25822028.




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