Hello and welcome to Your Post Baby Body! I’m Jessica Camden and I’m a mom of three young boys, ranging in age from five to just under one. I’m here hoping that other moms like myself can read through my blogs and learn how to maintain their body during pregnancy and/or build it back up after their baby is born.
I went through a lot of unnecessary pain and frustration during my last pregnancy dealing with diastasis recti, symphysis pubis dysfunction, back pain, sleeplessness, and more. When my last son was born, I was determined to learn what I could have done differently to make my pregnancy smoother and less painful.
During my research, I found so many exercises and programs I could have used to strengthen my body both during my pregnancy and afterwards. They were ones I’d never been aware of and I know other moms likely aren’t aware of them either, so I wanted to set up a place where anyone could come and learn to maintain/rebuild their post baby body and get into a shape that they’re proud of!
A Little More About My Journey
After I had each of my boys, I didn’t put a whole lot of effort towards rebuilding my body and, each time, I grew more and more disappointed with how my body looked.
As I approached the last couple months with my youngest son Jayden, my body grew weaker and weaker and I got to the point where anything I did caused intense lower back pain. I suffered from extreme SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) and I couldn’t even lift my feet out of my car without wincing or gritting my teeth because of the pain.
I Couldn’t Sleep At Nights Because of the Pain
Every night I laid awake for hours trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in that hurt as little as possible. Anytime I had to move during the night, the pain was excruciating and would bring tears to my eyes. I felt like my body had let me down…the truth is I’d let my body down. I hadn’t taken the time to rebuild it after I had my sons and now I was paying the price.
As the end of my pregnancy drew closer, I promised myself that after my baby was born, I would do whatever it took to rebuild my body. I prayed that once he was born, the pain would be gone and I could have my body back.
Finally, almost a week early, I had my baby and, as I’d hoped, most of the lower back pain was gone. I could finally sleep at night without dreading anytime I might have to move or get up out of bed.
Though the Pain Was Gone, My Body was so Weak
The pain was gone but, as the days went by, it was apparent that I was weaker than I’d ever been. I couldn’t sit up straight without my back getting sore. I didn’t have the strength to do things I’d just taken for granted before.
I knew that I had to get into a regular exercise routine but that I had to take it very slowly to give my stomach muscles time to strengthen and build back up.
I Started Exercising Gradually
I started out just walking and doing light stretches. When my son was about two months old, I started running short distances as well but I really wanted to start lifting weights. Strength training is something I’ve always enjoyed and I knew an exercise routine that included it would be something I could stick to because it was something I enjoyed and looked forward to.
When Jayden was three months old, I started lifting weights and it brought out the euphoric feeling that I’d been looking for. I kept track of my progress each day and focused on one part of my body each workout.
I separated my workouts into leg, arm, chest, shoulders, back, stomach, and cardio workouts. I could feel myself getting stronger and could see that what I was doing was working.
I Noticed my Stomach Looked Like a Football Anytime I Engaged It
I began to notice that any exercise I performed that engaged my core, caused my stomach to raise up into a dome shape. I’d never seen that after either of my other sons and told myself it was because I had a whole lot of work to do to build it back up.
I kept on with my workouts and felt the muscles on my arms, legs, back, and shoulders growing stronger. Everything was working except my stomach looked the same. That dome was still there when I worked out or did anything that engaged my core.
One day, just over two months after I’d begun exercising heavily, I again noticed the dome shape on my stomach and it really bothered me that I could see no change. It looked as bad as it had when I’d started, maybe even worse.
For the first time I felt around the muscles on my stomach and was horrified to find that there were literally no muscles in the center of my stomach.
I could feel the edges of my abdominal muscles on the left side and the right side but there was a clear separation between them that I knew should not be there and that is what was causing the dome shape I’d been seeing. I wondered how in the world I was supposed to build back muscles that weren’t there!
I Researched It and Realized I Had Diastasis Recti
I’d never heard of abdominal muscles splitting and after my first two sons my stomach muscles were back to normal within a couple weeks. One google search into split abdominal muscles and I had my answer. I had diastasis recti. (For those of you who don’t know what diastasis recti is or who want to know more about, I have additional information here.)
At first, I felt like it was hopeless. The research I put into it said that performing exercises that engaged my core like I had been, would only make the condition worse, and I had seen firsthand that my stomach had not gotten any better.
I Knew I Couldn’t Afford Surgery
Several sources I found said that, except for very mild cases, it could only be repaired through surgery and I knew that was not an option for me. I couldn’t afford to have surgery on my stomach just to make it look better and I didn’t want to stop exercising, I’d finally begun regaining the body I wanted and to give it all up would be devastating to me.
I continued my exercise routine, but started leaving out any exercises that relied heavily on my core. Those that used it a little, I watched closely to make sure I was holding my stomach in as much as i could while I performed them.
A couple days after I’d realized that I had diastasis recti, I was again looking ways I repair my abdominal muscles and I found a program that claimed it could heal diastasis recti. Further research, yielded several mothers who claimed it had either entirely repaired their diastasis recti or had improved it dramatically.
I was very hesitant about purchasing it, but I’d seen so many success stories, I knew I had to try it. There was also a guarantee on it stating that if you weren’t happy with the results you got using the program, you could get your money back. So I figured, if it worked, it was worth the money; if it didn’t, I’d get the money back and look into other solutions!
I started using this program for my daily workouts and, just a couple weeks after I started, I noticed the dome on my stomach was getting smaller. It was working; I was ecstatic!
The Change in the Separation was Amazing!
I continued using the program and the changes in my abdominal muscles have been dramatic. Where I used to be able to fit at least four, fingers into the gap between my muscles when I contracted my stomach, I can now only fit half a finger.
A couple weeks into the program, I slowly started using exercises that used my core heavily, and I felt an incredible difference and could feel my abdominal muscles getting stronger. I was finally on my way to getting my stomach back in shape along with all the rest of my body.
Looking back on it now, I think about how nice it would have been if I had known about the dangers of diastasis recti and the things it could lead to. I realized that was probably why I’d had excruciating back pain the last couple months of my pregnancy.
There are exercises you can perform and programs you can follow while you are pregnant to help minimize the chances of your abdominal muscles splitting. Perhaps if I’d known about those and had been performing those during my last pregnancy, the pain I experienced during the last couple months of it would have been lessened or would not have been there at all.
The program I mentioned above can actually be used during your pregnancy as well to keep your abdominal muscles, pelvic muscles, and back strong so that you can prevent diastasis recti.
I started this blog in the hopes that other moms could see it and know what they can do so that they don’t have to go through what I did. I also wanted a place that other moms could look to for guidance and tools as they get their post baby bodies in shape. Whether your child is a couple months old or a couple years old it’s never too late to start and, while it may be hard at times, the payoff in the end is worth every effort you put into it!
Thank you for reading! Please post any questions or comments below!