Mah Belly! 5 months postpartum in 2018

Alright! Let me preface the sharing of these photos with a statement of sorts…

I’m hesitant to post these raw frontal views because I prefer to focus more on the functionality of our postpartum cores rather than aesthetics, and because I don’t like things to become a comparison game. This is a postpartum series of my own personal journey, and I’ve said something along these lines before but I’ll say it again: each of us has our own experience and each body is so different with different physical and emotional milestones, not to mention genetics or varying health conditions which may affect weight gain/weight loss, skin elasticity, etc. One person may think, “hey! she looks great for having twins, or even if it was just one baby!” And another may feel, “wow–she has a lot of work to do! or, “look at that crazy belly button and stretched out skin!” Honestly, I truly don’t entertain one ounce what others may think since it’s my body and I have my own ideas for improvement while maintaining what I think is a healthy degree of satisfaction and pride in what this body has done for me and my family.

With that out of the way…?…here goes!

I have snapshots of the twin aftermath at 5 weeks postpartum, 7 weeks, and then not again until 5 months. I’m at 6 months now and I feel like not much has changed since the most recent photo one month ago…although the bloat factor shifts around a bit depending on a few things like diet within the previous few days, adequate hydration, hormones, etc. (you know what I mean, right???). I feel like this was a good day (the recent 5 month photo)…with minimal bloat ?. And I think I may even be holding a TVA (transverse abs) contraction here…I can’t remember. Also note in the photo showing my C section incision that I’m lifting up my skin and…erm extra stuff…to actually give you a decent view. The stitching was cleanly done and healed up as well as I could have hoped for, I think.

2018-06-18 13.53.16

2018-06-20 15.33.09

2018-06-20 16.03.12

SO–what have I been doing in the rehab department, you ask? Not much. Caring for twins plus 2 other children, plus pumping (my biggest time suck!), plus other full-time mom duties (as I’m sure you are well acquainted with!)…has all taken over my days (and nights) and I have little time to even *think* about exercise, let alone specific exercises to help repair a diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation). I know, I know–the voice in my head says, “but just a few minutes a day would make a big difference!” Well sweetheart (yes, still talking to myself ?), that’s a few minutes a day I literally don’t have at this point in my life. BUT! I have had like 30 seconds here and there to do a couple of things to facilitate the road to postpartum core recovery. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

#1: Wearing a support belt off and on beginning ~3 months postpartum and more consistently around 4 months. I waited because I wanted to see if any of my stretched out skin would heal better if given time to retract naturally as the initial postpartum bloat subsided, as opposed to immediately squishing it tight with a postpartum belt. I’m not sure if this made a difference initially, but I do know that it makes a significant difference when I wear it to splint together my abs into their proper alignment, which is most important to utilize during dynamic movement (pretty much any wrangling mom-maneuver, ha!).

Around 5 months I finally replaced the FitSplint I had lost in Samoa last year and it’s been WONDERFUL. Comfortable and easily worn under clothes with minimal interference during workouts (adds little body heat, nonrestrictive range of motion, etc.). I can see a noticeable difference when I stop wearing it after a couple days of continual use.

#2: I haven’t had the time nor energy to really get into a consistent routine of diastasis recti exercises (there’s a slew online…just make sure it’s a reputable source and has the most recent research-backed recommendations). So, instead, I’ve at least been doing my TVA (transverse abs) contractions throughout the day during said mom duties, in addition to a few kegels. Thankfully I also did this during pregnancy as my stomach got bigger…and bigger…so I think I set a good foundation of strength (as much as I could anyway) along the way. The good news is that you can do these anytime, anywhere, standing, sitting, or lying down!

So that’s it. I have also done a few jogs, soccer playing, and yoga sessions but nothing on the regular. I do hope to increase my cardio here soon and train for a run this Fall, but in the meantime I need to remember that I’m still in the phase of life where my body is not my own while I maintain nutrients necessary for pumping to feed the babes (again–my choice and circumstances).

The bottom line is that I hope we can all find peace and empowerment with our postpartum bodies, and make goals for functional improvement. And while bikinis aren’t my thing (meaning, my stomach won’t be seeing the light of day anytime soon), a little confidence in physical appearance never hurts either, which might mean something different to each of us ?.

Comments

  1. Megan says:

    Hope, thanks for posting this. It made me feel more okay about how my stomach looks after having my second in particular. My skin is stretched and saggy in ways that no amount of exercise will ever fix, and I’ve gained weight that has been too difficult for me to lose between having a baby, moving, brain surgery, caring for kids, etc. Maybe it will come off one day, maybe it won’t. But I look at other women and think they must have perfect bodies because they are thin, and the pool is full of women in bikinis, and it can make you feel like you really messed up somehow. But you’re fit, you care about health, and in a lot of ways, your stomach bears many of the same scars of childbearing that mine does, and it makes me feel okay. So thanks for sharing.

    1. BalancingHope says:

      Megan, I have admired you in so many ways for as long as I’ve known you, so I’m glad this could help you see you that there are more physical similarities between postpartum mamas than there are differences; we share the same battle scars and I think we can agree that it has been far worth it 🙂 I think of you often and the current battle you are facing… thoughts and prayers to you and your family!

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