In the 5 years between leaving university and having my first child I lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle. In February 2011 I had my first child, and in January 2013 I had my second child. After having my second child I noticed my belly remained distended postpartum. I had always been naturally skinny, and never struggled with weight loss, so being in a position where I felt like I had this extra weight was hard for me. My first pregnancy was easy, but my second pregnancy was difficult. I was in a lot of discomfort and pain throughout the whole pregnancy and was chronically fatigued. After I had my son the pain and fatigue continued, and adding to that, the pregnancy hormones surging through my body, the overwhelming responsibility of having two children barely 2 years apart, and being trapped in a body I didn’t recognize, I developed postpartum depression. For 6 months I suffered severe depression, crying daily for several hours and feeling lost, hopeless, and trapped in a body that was failing me.
Then one day while browsing the internet I saw a poster. It was of a mom with young children, and she challenged me: “What’s Your Excuse?” I admit that message sprung me to action. When I first started blogging online I defended that catchphrase vehemently. ‘What’s Your Excuse?” made me buy T25, a high intensity Beachbody Program. “What’s You Excuse?” Made me subscribe to bodybuilding. com and begin lifting heavy weights with no prior training. “What’s Your Excuse?” made me reduce my calories so I could lose weight.” And what’s Your Excuse?” Almost led me to pelvic organ prolapse.
What’s Your Excuse, moms? Your Excuse is that you had a baby. And the fact of that means you have to SLOW DOWN! What I didn’t realize when I bought T25 and started doing star jumps and crunches is that my core had weakened, and those movements were causing unmanageable amounts of internal pressure which was damaging my muscles from the inside out. What I didn’t realize when I started lifting heavy weights is that not all my muscles were contracting, and the load was being put on my fascia, causing micro-tears. What I didn’t realize when I started exercising is that I needed to heal before I overloaded my body.
Pregnancy stretches out your core muscles, loosens ligaments and reduces their tensile strength and your muscles contractile ability. Pregnancy weakens you, and a weak body overloaded will break. Moms are jumping back into high intensity workouts 6 weeks postpartum and are breaking their bodies.
Pregnancy is natural, and child birth is natural, and your body will heal, but you have to allow it to. Postpartum rehabilitation begins with your alignment and breathing. It has to begin slowly. You cannot cut calories because you will cut nutrients and your body needs the correct macro and micro nutrients to rebuild postpartum and to heal.
Pregnancy weakens your body from the inside out. But so often healing is focused on the outside in. It’s not about that poochy belly, or those extra pounds. The focus needs to be what’s happening on the inside. Why won’t that belly flatten? In my case it wasn’t because I was overweight it was because I had diastasis recti. My transverse abdominis, my internal corset, had weakened and pulled apart, bringing all other layers of my abdominal wall with it. My pelvic floor had weakened as a result of tearing during labour, meaning I suffered mild urinary incontinence, and it wasn’t managing load. And my diaphragm had weakened meaning I wasn’t breathing efficiently. What I didn’t need was workouts that were overloading my weak body but I was so focused on the aesthetic and not having any excuse that was exactly what I was doing.
What’s Your Excuse? Your excuse is that you had a baby! Slow down! It could save you from losing your uterus (google pelvic organ prolapse) and wearing a diaper.