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Why some moms “snap right back” after pregnancy and other don’t

Why, oh why, do some moms heal diastasis like it’s NBD and I’m over here stru-ggu-ling???

Have you ever wondered, or worse, googled why some moms “snap right back” after pregnancy and other don’t? It’s super unfair, but it absolutely happens. Here’s the truth – you cannot control the speed at which your body heals after pregnancy, (unless of course, you choose not to do anything at all to help your healing- that is in your control).

Believe me, on the continuum of moms who “snapped right back” after pregnancy, and those whose belly stayed round and mushy forever, I was on the round side for almost a year after my twins were born.  And then I had 2 good years where I enjoyed a flat belly, strong core, and nearly healed diastasis recti.  And then, baby #3 came along and the postpartum “non-snap back” was worse that time than with the twins.

I have a very dear friend who was pregnant the exact same time as me for both of our pregnancies (yep, all our kids are within months of each other). And both times, she literally shrunk right back down to her cute little pre-baby size in less than 3 months. And of the 2 of us, I was the fit one! For reals, what the actual heck is up with that unfairness????

Moms, if you can relate more to my story than to my very amazing beautiful and sweet friend (who also has perfect connective tissue genes apparently), then you aren’t alone. 1 in 4 moms find themselves in the “my-core-is-still-mush-I-will-never-look-the-same-again” camp. Although it often feels like it, you are definitely not alone, and best news of all, your situation is not hopeless!

Since you’re in our AMF community, I know you know about diastasis recti. But you still might be wondering why some women seem to recover from it faster than others after pregnancy. Well, fear not, because I’m here to shed some light on this topic, and mostly, to let you know that whatever camp you’re in, you’re totally normal and there is still hope for healing, no matter how slowly it might come.

First things first, let’s understand what diastasis recti is. During pregnancy, as your belly expands to accommodate your growing baby, the two large parallel bands of muscles in your abdomen, known as the rectus abdominis muscles, can separate along the midline. This separation creates a gap, which is what we refer to as diastasis recti (DR).

DR happens to 100% of pregnant moms in the 3rd trimester, but roughly 25-35% of moms don’t naturally recover from DR after pregnancy. There are 2 reasons for weakened abs that cause DR. First, the muscles themselves may be weak and just need a little strengthening to help pull them back into place tightly.  Secondly, and more difficult to heal, the connective tissue that holds the muscles together (the linea alba) may be stretched so thin that it is incapable of regaining it’s pre-pregnancy tautness and can’t pull the muscles back together. (Think of a rubber band stretched beyond it’s natural shape.)

Now, let’s dig into why this happens.

  1. Genetics: Ah, the wonders of our genes! Just like with many other things in life, genetics can play a significant role in how our bodies respond to various changes, including diastasis recti. Some women are blessed with genes that promote faster tissue repair and muscle recovery, making their healing journey quicker. Women’s connective tissue can also vary in density and composition. So if your genetics dealt you weaker tissue, that’s totally out of your control.
  2. Pregnancy-related factors: The severity of diastasis recti can vary from woman to woman, depending on factors such as the size of the baby, the number of pregnancies, and the overall stretching of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Women who experienced less separation during pregnancy might find it easier to heal compared to those with more significant separation.
  3. Postpartum care: It’s no secret that taking care of yourself after childbirth is crucial. Moms who pay attention to their postpartum recovery and follow appropriate exercises and practices like the ones found in the Core Corrective tend to see better results. Engaging in exercises that specifically target the core muscles, under the guidance of a postpartum fitness expert, can aid in closing the diastasis.
  4. Physical activity before and during pregnancy: Women who were regularly active and had stronger core muscles before and during pregnancy might find it easier to recover from diastasis recti. Strong core muscles provide better support to the abdomen and can aid in closing the gap post-pregnancy.
  5. Hormonal factors: Hormones are powerful chemicals that influence various processes in our bodies. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and the postpartum period can affect the rate of tissue repair and muscle recovery, which may vary from woman to woman.
  6. Breastfeeding: See #5. Talk about powerful chemicals! Breastfeeding releases the hormone called relaxin that keeps your connective tissue and joints loose.  This is good news in the sense that if you can’t seem to heal your abs while breastfeeding, be encouraged that you may very well heal quickly as soon as the breastfeeding stops.
  7. Age and metabolism: Younger moms may generally recover faster from diastasis recti due to their more active metabolism and potentially better tissue elasticity. However, remember that each woman’s body is unique, and age is just one factor among many.

Remember, healing from diastasis recti is a gradual process, and there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline. Yes, some moms will “snap right back” after pregnancy and other don’t. It’s essential to be patient and kind to yourself during this journey. Don’t compare yourself when your healing timeline is out of your control. Give your body the time it needs to heal and recover naturally.

If you have any concerns about diastasis recti or your postpartum recovery, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional, such as your obstetrician or pelvic physical therapist specializing in postpartum care. They can provide personalized advice and guidance to ensure you’re on the right track. Once you know you are cleared for appropriate exercise, snag one of our highly specialized programs and start your journey to healing the right way,

Most importantly, don’t compare your healing process to others because each woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy and childbirth. Embrace your uniqueness, focus on self-care, and celebrate the incredible journey of motherhood!

Remember that exercise is never a waste, even if it feels like your healing journey is taking forever.  You will only get stronger by doing the appropriate workouts, so don’t give up. Slow progress is better than no progress and will eventually get you to your goal. After helping over 15,000 moms rebuild a strong body after baby, I can tell you the best place to start is the Core Corrective. 

Wishing you all the best on this beautiful and transformative adventure! You’ve got this, Super Moms! 💪👶🎉

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