Hello again! Welcome to our new website –
My other new addition is at home, our darling little baby who I try to keep off social media. Actually, this post was inspired by the numerous questions/comments I had on returning to work at the hospital: Men noticing that I looked “pretty good” (I think they meant not too different from a year ago) and women asking if I really had a baby – and if so, how they could come through looking like me.
Now, I never had a perfect figure (whatever that is but I’m not 22 so it’s not happening) but I tried to exercise and eat well, and according to my trainer Christine Calaway I had pretty strong abs! My body definitely changed through and after pregnancy, but I think what most of these people are commenting on, is that I don’t have a “mummy tummy,” that pooch that is made up of slack fascia (diastasis recti) and extra skin and fat that can make you look like you’re still pregnant. I still have what I like to call a layer of frosting on my abs, but they don’t pooch out.
Another colleague whose wife recently got pregnant mentioned to me that she is very nervous about all the changes to her body that can happen. So was I! I did a few things that I think probably helped, and I think they are certainly safe to try.
No one wants these little friends. They develop whenever there is relatively quick stretching of the skin, so that there are little tears in the underlying tissue that are permanent. Sometimes they fade, but they never totally go away. I suspect that the likelihood of developing them has something to do with genetics, in addition to the rapidity of weight gain. But I read about using almond oil during my pregnancy, and I slathered it on religiously (twice a day!) from upper chest to thighs, and I didn’t get any (new) stretch marks. I’m sure that massaging it in helped too.
This spreading of the rectus abdominus (“six-pack”) muscles away from each other is due to stretching of the usually non-elastic fascia between them. In an abdominoplasty, this is treated with sewing the rectus muscles together, and the bulge between them goes away. If anything, I wanted to do what I could to prevent developing one; not every woman develops it, and there isn’t clear data on what causes it aside from stretching during pregnancy. However, most physical therapists and trainers avoid crunches and other similar exercises during pregnancy. I took it a step further and always got up or laid down on my side, to avoid activating the muscles. I did different core exercises, as in prenatal yoga when they tell you to “hug your baby.” In the first six weeks after delivery, I wore an abdominal binder most days; this helped to support my back while I was healing, but I also hoped it would help my tissues to shrink back. I am not in my old jeans yet, but I tentatively checked for a diastasis and I do not have one. I started an exercise program focused on postnatal health, to help me slowly exercise more, and I was pleased to find out that everything I had been doing during pregnancy was similarly recommended to treat and prevent diastasis. There isn’t a ton of medical evidence for these practices, I want to emphasize, but I think they are safe and worth trying!
And if not, well, I know how to fix it surgically 😉