So I’m 5 months postpartum and what have I been doing in the core recovery department? Not much. Caring for twins plus 2 other children, plus pumping (my biggest time suck!) PLUS other full-time mom duties, have all taken over my days (and nights). I have little time to even *think* about exercise let alone specific exercises to help repair diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation). But then there’s the voice in my head that says, “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. Not with the sleep debt I’m in. But I have had a couple of precious minutes to utilize some things in my postpartum tool belt to facilitate the road to recovery. The following sections discuss these tools.
Wearing a Support Belt
I waited for the first few months to pass before wearing a support belt. After which, I then began with intermittent wear before progressing to a more consistent wearing routine around 4 months postpartum. I waited this long because I wanted to see if any 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 (which is what I had done with my first 2 pregnancies). I’m not sure if this made a difference initially, but I do know that it makes a significant difference when I wear a brace to splint together my abs into their proper alignment. And it’s most important to utilize a brace during dynamic movement (pretty much any wrangling-children-maneuver, ha!).
So which postnatal band or splint do I use? Well, I really love the Tupler Technique splint because it has great abdominal coverage! It starts just below the ribs and extends down to just above the bikini line (size medium). It stabilizes my core in such a way that I can FEEL my core getting stronger during dynamic movement with it on. Not to mention that it reminds me to also engage my transverse abs and glutes, and not just rely on the bracing effect of the splint alone.
Something a little lighter is the FitSplint. This is my favorite band to wear during exercise as I work on core recovery. I began wearing it around 5 months postpartum (after replacing the one I had lost in Samoa…) and it’s been WONDERFUL. It’s so comfortable and easily worn under clothes with minimal interference during workouts (adds little body heat, nonrestrictive range of motion, etc). It’s so lightweight and keeps those abs securely splinted together during even my highest impact workouts! And I can even see a noticeable difference when I stop wearing it after a couple days of continual use.
Strengthening From the Inside Out
I haven’t had the time nor energy to really get into a consistent routine of diastasis recti rehab exercises. There’s a slew online…just make sure it’s a reputable source and has the most recent research-backed recommendations. And while I haven’t been super diligent in this area, I’ve at least been doing my TVA (transverse abs) contractions throughout the day during regular mama duties. I’ve also added in some kegels to wake up those pelvic floor muscles, BUT you have to be careful not to overdo it–exacerbating pelvic floor tightness is a real thing!
Thankfully I was doing these TVA contractions throughout the twin pregnancy as my stomach got bigger…and bigger! This set a good foundation of strength (as much as I could anyway) along the way. And the good news is that you can do these anytime, anywhere, standing, sitting, or lying down! Some of my other favorite postpartum exercise resources include articles and demonstrations that discuss proper breathing techniques during core activation. Those by Get Mom Strong or Deliciously Fit’n Healthy (see her section on “EXERCISES TO IMPROVE RECTI POST BABY”) are great places to start for any mama’s core recovery journey.
SO. Those are the 2 main areas I’ve been able to focus on for beginning my postpartum core recovery journey after these twinsies. Essentially, it’s been wearing a support belt and addressing the tummy gap (and weakness) with some mindful contractions of my inner core musculature. That’s where real healing begins. I’ve also just started some cardio with jogging (and even participated in a few soccer adult league soccer games!⚽️). And hopefully I can increase the yoga, but I need to remember that I’m still in the phase of life where my body is not my own. My time is limited and priority #1 is maintaining nutrients while pumping to feed those babes!
Slow and Steady
Ultimately, I hope that 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 doesn’t see the light of day, ha!), a little confidence in physical appearance never hurts. This lovely thing called self-esteem might mean something different to each of us on different levels as any woman takes baby steps in her own postpartum journey. I would even daresay that’s the greatest postpartum tool of all…self-love ❤️