The other day, I was on social media and was scrolling past what I thought was a spammy ad about flattening my tummy. I mean, the title was total click bait — something like flatten your tummy with 1 exercise in 10 minutes a day. Ugh. I see stuff like that all the time, and I’m sure you do too. And then I did a double take. Because instead of linking to some sketchy url, the article was from NPR. What? For real? I wish I had a picture of my face when I observed the url — I’m guessing it was some combination of confusion, shock, disbelief, sadness (has NPR been taken over by spam?), and curiosity. What in the world was this article?
So I read it, and now I want to discuss it with you. The article jumps right in and within the first section I read:
Decked out in purple yoga pants and leather cowboy boots, Keller is a personal trainer from New York City. She has developed an exercise that allegedly shrinks the mommy pooch.
There is science to back up the method, she says.
“A doctor at Weill Cornell and I did a study on the exact same program we’re going to do,” Keller says. “And we found 100 percent of women achieved full resolution.”
Ummm. In a study, 100% of women achieved full resolution of their after-childbirth stomach? I’m officially totally intrigued. From what I’ve observed, that after-childbirth-jelly-tummy is almost a universal complaint among mothers, and many, many essays have been written about coming to terms with it. Weeping and wailing, over that darn post-baby tummy, is basically a universal experience at this point. And you’re telling me, the whole issue can go away in a few weeks?
You’ll be glad to hear the article doesn’t focus only on the cosmetic aspects. Instead, it goes into the diagnosis, and into the very real health problems (like back pain and hernias) that the problem can cause. It even talks about how some of the exercises we traditionally have done to combat it (like crunches) actually make the situation worse. It also talks about how to resolve the problem.
To me, I see a connection between this, and other articles I’ve shared about how doctor’s don’t treat the pain and health issues of women as seriously as they treat men. Our society has a tendency to downplay the health issues of women. Oh? Your stomach hasn’t returned to what you feel is “normal”? Well, you’re just vain. Get used to your new body and stop complaining about the back pain. Losing your body identity is one of those things that you have to do to become a mother. Accept it.
But instead, it sounds like the dreaded mom tummy it’s a real medical problem that just hasn’t been widely undiagnosed and untreated. If I think about it too hard, I’ll get ragey.
Anyway. I am still pondering the article, and thought I would share it with you in case you hadn’t seen it. I have not made an attempt at doing the recommended exercise, but would like to. I think I would be more confident trying it if I had someone who could confirm I’m doing it correctly. But I’m so curious about it — if you’ve given it a try, or know anything about it, I hope you’ll jump in with a comment.
What’s your take? If the click bait title is true, and a simple exercise can resolve your mom-tummy in 10 minutes a day, would you do it? Or have you moved on? Maybe you’ve embraced your body as is with no interest in looking back at that pre-baby tummy? Do you think my thoughts on women’s health not being taken seriously are off-base in relation to this article? Or do you see the connection too? I’d love to hear.
P.S. — The only belly shots I ever had taken.
53 thoughts on “What If The Dreaded After-Baby Mom Tummy Isn’t Really a Thing?”
New Mama here, specifically dealing with that jelly tummy. This whole issue drives me nuts-in part because I did lose most of the weight, so when I do mention the whole jelly tummy thing and want to ask about it, I get this response a lot of times that is implying I’m somehow vain, and isn’t it enough I lost the weight I have “so easily” (I’m diabetic, so it wasn’t “so easily” so much as vastly changing insulin needs and not a lot of support from a diabetic team once the kid was born).
Finding out that there is- or could be- a medical issue was really eye opening. I wish the instructions for the exercises were a bit clearer though. Thanks for sharing.
Same. I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to do the exercise. I’ll keep looking for a better description, and if I find something, I’ll share it here.
And I hear you, if you’ve lost most of the weight, and bring up that tummy, the responses are essentially: What? You look great! Don’t worry about it.
I believe it’s called the “Dia Method”. There’s an official site online where you can pay for a subscription and get access to videos. I’m thinking of trying it! I definitely have a diastasis recti from having two big strong babies.
I’ve heard about this, years ago. There’s a book called “lose your mummy tummy”. I couldn’t figure it out from a book, and then had 2 more kids, only via c-section. I don’t think they work if you’ve had a c-section. I am pretty sure I have diastis recti though.
Maybe worth giving the exercise a try? I’ll see if I can find a better source for explaining how it works.
NPR posted a follow up article in response to reader questions for more specific guidance. The follow-up even includes diagrams for how to perform the exercises, for those looking for how-tos.
Thanks for sharing this, Gabby!
Oh my goodness. So wonderful! Thank you for the link, Elyse.
Thank you for posting this! After 13 years I now know what is wrong with my belly. Doctors just brushed me off every single time. I have been doing the wrong exercises.:(
I did read about some backlash to the article, thankfully from professionals like PTs who can actually treat pelvic floor and abdominal issues during and after pregnancy. I started hearing about this issue after listening to The Longest Shortest Time podcast, which did spark rage in me. They spoke with women whose physicians were not interested or educating about postpartum pain. They eventually found physical therapy to be a solution after a frustratingly complicated journey. I myself have struggled with back pain and postpartum body changes and my mother has told me about issues she’s had persisting for 33 years postpartum! It’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that medicine is ignoring a wife range of women’s health issues.
I’d love to know more about the backlash from PTs – do you have any links, Alexis? I had a PT help me with pelvic floor issues (not DR) after my third baby, and “suck in” was basically the polar opposite of the recommendations and exercises she proscribed. It makes me think you’d only want to do this in combination with lots of kegels! Anyway, seemed a very unexpectedly click-baity and one-size-fits-all headline from NPR.
From what i heard kegals also can cause trouble. When i was exercising to prepare for my daughter they recommended squats. I think it’s also important to be able to relax the pelvic floor. I’m glad you sought PT! NPR actually had a follow up article:
Omg!!! Thank you so much for posting this, and the follow up arricle with further instructions. I had one baby, then 2yrs later had twins!! My stomach was wrecked and back hurt so much I couldn’t even walk straight. I had D.R. And hernia and when I went to the Doctor about it, it wasn’t taken that seriously. It was more like, oh yea, you have it, totally normal. I wasn’t made to feel like it was a medical issue that needed intervention. I left a bit bummed. It has gotten better with time but by no means healed. I can’t wait to start doing this.
A lot of Pilates and barre classes do abdominal work that starts with this kind of work. I think it’s easier to lay on my back and think about someone punching me in the stomach. You don’t just suck in, you flex too. And you keep your shoulders and tailbone relaxed and connected to the floor. Anyway, it has connected my abs back together mostly, I can still sometimes feel separation but I don’t have back pain so I don’t care.
Posting for the first time to call ‘bullsh*t’.
I completely agree that medical science has often ignored/devalued/under treated women.
But I think NPR totally oversold with this title: there is not a magic cure-all for mommy tummy. Buried in the article is the tidbit that only 1/3rd or so of women have diastasis recti, what these exercises are supposed to treat. Not everyone has DR, and not all mommy tummy is DR.
I’m not a fitness guru, but I’ve been doing lots of yoga for 10 yrs. I’ve had two kids. I’m 100% sure I don’t have DR (my own assessment, and my midwife’s). Yet, I still have a little pooch–it is made up of extra, loose skin and soft tissue. If I do a plank (for example) the muscles underneath are just fine, but I’ve got a nice little dough ball of extra skin hanging down below.
Second this. I had DR after my twins (kids 3 & 4 for me), and I got physical therapy, which shrunk my separation from 4 fingers to less than 1 (i.e., healed it). The exercises CAN WORK to heal DR. But I am here to tell you that I still have folds of skin and pudge around my belly that persist, begging strangers to ask when I’m due, even though according to the scale I have lost all of my twin pregnancy weight, and even though I exercise every single day and eat a healthy diet.
My problem with this piece is that it’s conflating a real medical issue with the outrageous societal pressure on women to have flat, scar-free bellies post-baby. If you have a diastasis recti, YES, please, get it treated. But for the rest of us, I do think we should accept – and even celebrate! – what these post-baby bellies may really mean: that our bodies carried babies!! We should wear these bellies like a badge of honor.
I have diastasis recti, and after realizing what the problem was (well after my third large baby), and that pilates was making things worse not better, I purchased the MuTu system. It’s been very helpful, and incorporates exercises like the one described in the article. But I’m a bit skeptical that this one exercise is the magic fix; MuTu emphasizes all around core strength and full-body alignment as well as healthy eating to repair the connective tissue between the abdominal muscles.
I”m so glad you mentioned MUTU. I had a friend recommend it to me and I started today. I too was skeptical with the bait click of this article. I think there is no quick fix. Good things take time.
I don’t know much about the issue, but I know I started having horrible back pain shortly after my son was born. I read the same article you did and decided hey, I’ll give it a shot – I don’t care about the tummy part, but the back pain really sucks. I hate to say it, but it’s been a few days and the back pain is already a LOT better. So I’m a believer.
I completed the MuTu program when my youngest was three years old. It totally worked for me but it was a commitment for 12 weeks. Like another commenter said, it focuses on healing diastasis recti and also establishing overall core strength and fitness. You do many types of exercises throughout the program. I had DR of probably 1-1.5 inches in places when I started and it slowly healed throughout the 12 weeks. With that said, I don’t feel like my “mummy tummy” totally went away. I am glad that I know my transverse abdominal muscles are strong and my DR has healed but I still have extra skin and stretch marks and my waistline still looks different than it did pre-kids.
I do agree that the medical community needs to be more pro-active about educating women about this condition. Perhaps having more scientific studies about DR will help with that.
I’m a massage therapist and educator, as well as a mom of two who has rehabbed my own fairly severe Diastasis Recti. While I’m grateful that this issue is gaining some mainstream attention via NPR, the article omits all sorts of pertinent information regarding safely healing this area of our bodies. I want to shout from the mountain tops about this condition, because so many of us have it. If you want to learn more, please check out Katy Bowman’s excellent book ‘Diastasis Recti: The Whole Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation’ as well as the Facebook Group “Restore Your Core Community”, and if you are in an area where there is a Mamalates instructor, consider checking out those classes too. Thanks for highlighting this on Design Mom! More of use need to know that we can feel better, breath deeper, and feel stronger.
I second Katy Bowman! She is amazing.
Thirding Katy Bowman! She’s incredibly helpful!
I have an 11cm diastasis recti with a umbilical hernia, which then caused a prolapsed bladder. I don’t have a “mummy tummy.” I have an actual injury.
My issue with the NPR story was that most of those women were under a year postpartum already and would likely have healed normally without this particular exercise. They didn’t seem to have the actual muscle gaps that I and many women have.
My midwife during my second pregnancy casually mentioned I had DR, but that is the ONLY time a health care professional has mentioned it to me. I find this almost unbelievable! My”baby” (offlur kids) is now three and a month or so ago I decided I needed to figure out how to heal this and issue and resolve some of my “pooch”. I have been a diligent exerciser for the past three years, but still have a lot of stomach sag. I found lots of suggested exercises via Pinterest searches and have been doing them. But like other commenters said, think that a fair amount of it is skin. I carried my babies straight out in front and had that basketball-under-the-shirt look. Plus all my babies were big, and I had all four in five years (so there was never complete healing between pregnancies). I hope the exercises can indeed heal the muscle separation, but have my doubts my skin will ever fully heal.
I can’t yell YES enough to this Melissa! I strongly believe we should start owning the language ‘birth injury’. I see it like any other injury an athlete sustains while undergoing a strenuous event. The language we use is so important, and to mislabel it is to continue to dismiss it. It’s not a ‘mummy tummy’, it’s an injury and we need to treat it!
I first heard about this problem from my friend Mindi who ended up having surgery after her kids were born to correct her diastasis recti. She is a firecracker and really pushes everyone around her to get what she wants – a great woman to have on your side. I remember thinking that someone who didn’t push as hard would probably not have gotten the results she did. She also had no problem if doctors thought she was vain – her muscles had separated and if it is vain to want them back together, so be it.
It’s sad that we have to push so hard for basic health care.
I had DR after baby 3. (I don’t even remember them checking after the first two!!) I used the Tupler technique and post-natal yoga (they gave me mods for DR). It took awhile, but I was healed and without pooch.
Now pg with baby 4 and the midwife said my abs are great for #4! I plan to do some ab work during pregnancy this time and be sure to do Tupler again after.
During my 3rd pregnancy, I saw a PT who specializes in pelvic floor issues in women. I was referred to the PT because I had horrible hip pain, which she gave me exercises for, but she also diagnosed me with a small diastasis recti. The exercises for the diastasis were very simple, which I could do while pregnant to strengthen my muscles so my postpartum recovery would go faster. And that is exactly what happened. By the time I went to my 8-week postpartum (and post C-section) checkup with my PT I had no diastasis. My baby is now 1 year old, I weigh less than I did before all 3 of my pregnancies, I am stronger than ever, and I still have a “pooch,” but I am okay with my pooch because I wouldn’t trade my kids in for a flat stomach.
I am so grateful for the PT during pregnancy, and I am convinced that so many women could benefit from PT during pregnancy even if they don’t have pain. My PT is truly a warrior for moms in my city.
I had almost the same experience as you did. Went to a PT for pelvic floor issues after my 2nd child and she helped me fix my diastisis in a few weeks. After giving birth to my 3rd child I did those same exercises almost everyday until my 6 week post partum appointment and I had no diastisis. I’m now pregnant with my 4th, I do normal ab exercises, and will do my diastisis exercises after I deliver. I tell all my mommy friends about it now because I had no idea and I wish someone had told me sooner.
I My biggest concern is that I don’t think all women’s mommy pouch is fat and tissue that can be resolved with exercise. I had a hard time accepting my post motherhood body and battled with anorexia for several years after, getting down to a weight lower than my pre-baby weight, only to find that it wasn’t fat on my stomach, but extra skin that sags when I bend over. This isn’t going to go away with an exercise, but I’m sure there are a lot of women who confuse the two too.
When reading this and the NPR article I thought of all the women I know with mom pooches and I feel like so many are stretched skin. I agree with you on this. I fixed my diastisis with exercises, but I never had stretched skin after any of my pregnancies. I feel like if I did have stretched skin it would sag regardless of how tight my muscles were underneath.
Fascinating! I read the original NPR article and am grateful for the commenter above who posted a link to the follow-up article. I just printed out the exercise instructions (wish there had been a corresponding video or illustration). It’s worth a shot!
I had pretty bad DR after 5 kids (including twins #4 & 5), and I was able to improve the gap with exercises, but I still have a soft tummy. It’s much more than just my muscles underneath! I have skin that I can stretch and pull into all kinds of shapes, and who knows what else underneath. I have come to accept this as part of my body and my “badge of honor” for these pregnancies (though of course it can be uncomfortable and not attractive). When my little girl touches my stomach and asks if she’ll have a soft tummy when she’s a mommy, I tell her that yes, she probably will. And the way she looks up at me with hopeful eyes and a beaming smile at the thought of her own soft tummy makes me love mine all the better. :)
Hi Gabby. I would like to highlight an issue with the interpretation of this study. I must admit I haven’t read the actual paper only the article you linked to in your post.
The NPR article said that 100% of women who did the program had resolution of their divarication, not resolution of their “mummy tummy” (Can you guess I am Australian by my spelling!?!) I think mummy tummy is probably caused by lots of things – divarication, loss of skin tone, some extra fat/change in fat distribution etc. It’s fantastic that this exercise program treats divarication – as you said it is a common cause of lower back pain post delivery.
However if women are starting this program to return to a pre-baby, beautifully flat abdomen, they may be disappointed. We would need to read the study and find out – how many women noticed a physical change to their mummy tummy doing these exercises, how many of the women experienced the inches of change described? Unless those numbers look good too this article may be a case of fudging the interpretation of data to make the study appeal to us all more than it otherwise would.
This is a yoga technique that I learned years ago and teach my students. I have never done this for a duration of ten minutes though…..Will be trying it out. I would advise, as someone teaches breathing techniques, that this exercise could be quite challenging to do for 10 minutes without a break. Quite challenging. I would advise building up to ten minutes.
I would recommend the mommastrong program to anyone dealing with an an separation. She focuses on healing that gap as well as connecting to your pelvic floor, which is key to healing the injury and not just improving the visual. However, like previous posters I agree that this will not restore ones abs to pre baby looks. Most women have extra skin after carrying children, which causes that pooch.
I can recommend Cantienica: https://www.cantienica-method.com
It focuses on gaining strength in your core muscles (or regaining it after pregnancy) and the side-effect is a flatter tummy. I’d shy away from a program with a name that seems silly to me like mummy tummy (not existing where I live).
I strongly agree on women’s health issues being downplayed AND being subject to shaming and concealment in public and the need to change that!
Hi there, I’ve heard about that most moms might get a jelly tummy even if you had a c-section. There is no differece between c-section and normal delivery so I think the most important thing is doing some exercises if you get a mummy tummy. Thanks for your sharing and look foward to your updates!
When I was pregnant with my first, I took a prenatal yoga class at Maternal Fitness in NYC, which was Julie Tupler’s place (of the Tupler Technique– she is mentioned in the NPR article). There were a lot of exercises around sucking your belly button back to your spine (while at the same time relaxing your pelvic floor, which was hard at first). We were supposed to do these throughout the day, to strengthen our transverse muscles, which would help prevent diastisis, aid in labor, and help with postpartum recovery as well. I thought it was great, and I did bounce back almost immediately to a flat stomach (continuing to do the exercises) after the birth. Baby #2 was harder, of course!, especially as I didn’t do the class or the exercises — and got the jelly belly! Later I wrote an article about Tupler and got to take her workshop specifically about healing diastisis. I remember the exercises were so subtle I felt like I wasn’t doing anything, but I was sore the next day. Whether you get a flat tummy or not, strengthening your core is never a bad idea. (Although I agree the article conflates a true medical issue with a pesky vanity issue.)
I’ve had 4 kids and have a really bad case of Diastasis Recti. The gap runs basically from my chestbone to below my belly button. (I’m short-waisted and carried my babies out front like a basketball.) I tried the Tupler technique for a time, but exercises can only do so much! I’m saving up for surgery, not out of vanity, but simply because clothes don’t fit me right. I’m small-chested (my ruined stomach sticks out further than my chest), so I basically have to wear shapeless tops if I don’t want to look 5 months pregnant. I see friends at church and co-workers looking at my stomach because, I’m sure they are wondering, “is she pregnant?”. Cashiers and random strangers ask me “when are you due?”. So often, in fact, that I regularly lie and tell them a due date, just to avoid awkwardness and embarrassment. It sucks. Now I wear a corset most days, which helps me look better, but it’s a pain and I can’t wear it under certain fabrics. Also, having a weak core causes so many issues with back pain and makes it harder to lift things. I SO WISH the medical community would recognize that severe DR is a medical problem and not a cosmetic problem so I could get help from insurance.
I had never heard of DR before my second baby, who is now two, but felt so completely and disturbingly disconnected from my body that I guess I went looking for reasons? I can’t remember at this point, I’m just glad I did. I stumbled onto an online program called Mommastrong, and it made a huge difference with my strength, backaches, and awareness of how awkwardly I sometimes position my body. I’ve been hearing more talk about DR since learning about it myself, and I’m so glad! I think women have to be the ones to spread the word and demand more integrated help and healing after everything that is demanded of our bodies throughout pregnancy!
NPR followed up with another article, because the one you posted got so much of a reaction.
I have complete Diastasis Recti. After my first, four years ago, my body bounced back no problem. By 7 months PP I looked basically exactly like I did before I got pregnant, and he ate like a champ so I got to keep eating a little too much : ) My second was allergic to everything, so she went on formula at 8 weeks and I stayed 8 weeks PP looking and, because she had a ton of medical issues, I didn’t really have the ability to manage a job, the other kid, her, and the gym – so it was stress + PP body. By the time she was six months, we were pregnant again, and I was really concerned (however vain) about my PP body after #3. I wasn’t starting from a good place and knew it. Within 3 weeks after baby #3, I was about 10 pounds off my goal weight… and I looked pregnant. Fast forward to baby 3 being 15 months: DAILY I’m asked when I’m going to have a baby. “Pooch” and “jelly” doesn’t begin to describe it. I look pregnant. It’s that I don’t look fat (because I’m not) but then there’s that huge belly… it’s really emotionally exhausting, honestly, to keep having to say, “no, actually, I’m not pregnant. My body just looks like this.” or whatever variant I have the energy for. People usually say something like, “oh, I wore my maternity clothes for awhile too!” Not maternity clothes. I just look pregnant. Or explain that it took them awhile to lose the weight too (it’s not the weight). Or I should join their cross fit box/eat more cinnamon/do more yoga/etc. When in fact, the more exercise I do, the more pregnant I look. I’ve been doing a lot of the practical DR physical therapy exercises, which are a huge help – but still. It’s all really frustrating : (
Sorry to hear this! I was approached as being pregnant, when my little one was only 2 months old and it would have been technically impossible for me to be as far along as my belly looked.It has improved quite a bit with exercises, where you pull your bellybutton in AND UP. If you do the wrong (straight belly muscle) exercises DR does get worse!
Raleigh, I was in the same situation as you after baby #2! I had over 20 people ask me if I was pregnant over the course of over a year after my second baby was born. I felt terrible in my body, too. After trying a program where I bound my core and did terribly repetetive exercises (it was terrible…don’t do this one!), I found MuTu. The MuTu program reduced my Diastasis Recti from 5 fingers to less than 1 and healed the connective tissue. I still do the core exercises from this program daily and my waist line is still decreasing. I now will always avoid planks and situps so as not to flare up my DR, but I now can otherwise exercise relatively normally. Please check out https://mutusystem.com/. It took more than 2 months for me to start feeling results, but it healed my body and gave me the chance at a normal life again.
I have three kids. A singleton, and then twins.
after my first, my stomach went down, no problem…back into the jeans. After my twins, not so much. I always looked about 4 months pregnant, and my back hurt something awful. People were constantly asking if I was pregnant.
my Dr told me that I had diastasis recti, and that the only way to fix it was surgery.
I had a tummy tuck when my twins were about 18 months old. It was the best thing I could have done for myself—after surgery, I started running and have run a few marathons and lots of 1/2’s and I lift weights. I couldn’t have done any of that with a big space between my stomach muscles. My surgeon said there was a space big enough “to drive a truck through” and that no amount of exercise was going to pull them back together.
The back pain is gone, and my self confidence came back! It was the best thing I could have done for myself
I did MuTu after my last two kids, and a number of the mom’s I met through MuTu went on to do Restore Your Core (Holy Shift Yoga) and they absolutely love it. Not everyone is fixing their pooches, but the focus is more on function and pain relief and actually fixing bodies. Worth looking into. :)
Gabby, I read the same article, am doing the exercises almost daily and my “mommy tummy” is already half gone. I’m adding an abdominales class for post-partimos moms for fixing Diastasis Recti, which is what the condition is called, to my class line up at the birth center where I teach birth classes. I’m so excited about the exercises, I’ve been teaching it to my friends in our weekly exercise get togethers. I totally agree with the article that the medical world doesn’t pay enough attention to women specific and especially birth specific problems. Hooray for this article. It is changing so many lives for the better! Thanks for your wonderfully articulate post on it and for sharing!!! I can’t wait to see my stomach muscles again 😊
Thanks for sharing, Gaby! The issue this raises is what is standard aftercare for women after giving birth. It feels to me like too little, too late. I was lucky enough to have a midwife help me deliver in the hospital (by chance) and I learned so much from her in the few days I was in the hospital. It strikes me that it should be standard practice at the 6 week postpartum visit (which we all have), that your OB should do a quick check to see if their patients have DR, and then refer to PT if severe. This wasn’t a standard part of my visit, and in fact, she did not even ask me questions such as: Do you have back pain? Sometimes (especially if you’re a new mom) you don’t know what is normal and what is not, and how would a new mom even know to check for DR? I sure didn’t after my twins, and only after having my third child and reading more about it did I email my OB to ask for exercises. She recommended I visit a PT. But honestly, it would be nice not to have to go to the hassle and just have them show you the exercises right then and there. We honestly could have such better integrated medicine, in my opinion.
I don’t believe I have ever had DR, but I also don’t recall being specifically assessed for it after the birth of either child. I’ve always held any spare weight in my stomach. Consistent weight training and core development over the course of 10 months have eliminated my “pooch” and given me developed abdominals for the first time in my life. Switching my healthy diet to a carefully balanced diet made a marked difference. I still have stretch marks and looser skin that pre-kid — no training or diet plans is going to change that! All of that said, I can’t say enough how much increasing my strength improved how I felt about my post-baby body. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this confident.
I just saw your post in Instagram about this conversation and had to come over immediately to share my experience. After my second son was born in December 2015, I had Diastasis Recti, a “5 finger gap” between my abdominal muscles. My midwife checked for DR and told me I had it, but told me only that I should avoid situps and rather pull in my abs when I do crunches. This advice didn’t help. I looked pregnant for over a year after my son was born. I had over 20 people ask me if I was pregnant (never never never do that!) I used to be very physically active and was now unable to exercise normally and exercising even seemed to make it worse. I started googling and found a couple of programs to treat diastasis recti online. The first one was an American nurse who recommended binding the belly and doing repetitive exercises…that one made me pee myself even worse and I felt terrible following her advice to not do other exercise, so I stopped that program shortly after starting it. (I know she means well and wants to heal people. The program just doesn’t treat the whole core or whole health.) I then found the MuTu System and signed up for Wendy’s 12 week program. MuTu healed my Disastasis Recti and changed my life. I want every mother to know about it, not matter how long ago she had her babies. Please check it out at https://mutusystem.com/. I started MuTu around Christmas 2016. I wasn’t super consistent with sticking with the program at first so I repeated some weeks of the program and then got more religious about following it, and then wrapped up late spring 2017. My diastasis gap reduced from 5-finger-width to less than one-finger-width, I lost many inches off my belly, I healed the connective tissue between my abdomenal muscles, no longer leak when I cough, sneeze, or jump, and sex actually feels better than ever. I now can exercise relatively normally (though I think I always will avoid planks and situps, which put pressure on the belly in a way that exacerbates DR). I loaded Wendy’s workout videos to my Google Drive and do the exercises from my phone at the gym at work. I still do the core exercises regularly, many months after I finished the program. Wendy looks at total health, including mental health and diet, and encourages self-grace. I heard the NPR piece that you are talking about. While it was great to hear the difficulties of DR mentioned on the radio, I thought the reporting was incomplete. Thank you for bringing up this issue! I love your blog and your book.
My stomach muscles split pretty bad after my second and third pregnancy. My doctor said if my hernia came back they would do surgery to stitch them back together.. I was pissed I’d have to wait for a third hernia to have surgery.
Great post, Gabby!
I diagnosed myself with diastasis recti a few years ago. And have since asked my PT and doctors about it, and rarely does anyone even know what it is! So I’ve become a student on the subject, reading what I can and trying different things to heal myself. I did try the Tupler Technique, and while I did have some success, I found it very hard to maintain. I’m reading Katy Bowman’s DR book which is fascinating and so enlightening. I have now found the best program to address and correct DR. It’s called Heal Your Core with Yoga, taught by Catherine Middlebrooks (different than Restore your Core). Catherine’s approach is holistic, addressing whole body alignment that contributes to and prevents healing of DR. It’s fantastic. She and her students have even discussed the NPR article, and it differs from what she teaches a bit, in that the engaging of the core should happen on an exhale, not by “sucking in.” And core engagement should also happen when the rest of your body is in proper alignment, to be able to maintain it going forward. I highly recommend Catherine’s program.
And I so agree that there needs to be more attention paid to these core issues by the medical community. I have felt completely alone in trying to find information and heal myself! Hardly anyone I’ve seen knows what DR is, much less what to do about it. I’ve had to take matters into my own hands.
Thanks for opening up this discussion!