Dear Fitness Expert,
I am in my 29th week with my firstborn (a boy) and have disastasis. Before I got pregnant my stomach was very hard with well-defined muscles, so I was sort of surprised/shocked that this happened.
A few questions about Disastasis:
Thank you in advance for your counsel!
Congratulations on the boy! And because this is your first, you will continue to have questions... believe me, we all have questions each and every time we have a baby. The lessons are always on-going. However, you have special circumstances that require more attention. The good news is this: your condition is not all that uncommon, more and more OB/GYN are familiarizing themselves with this condition and how it relates to women who work out, and your recovery can be healthy and relatively easy if you are careful.
Therefore, you must work with a team. Think of it as creating your own team for TEAM BABY!
Talk to you OB/GYN about your concerns which include the abs, the work-outs and how you might recover. Because we do not know your medical history, it is difficult to say too much. But you can expect to get those killer abs back! Read on...
Bring on a nutritionist to your team. I know there might be a cost concern but this is part of your short -- and long-term goals to have a healthy baby and a fabulous recovery. The nutritionist will help you create a food journal, keep on you in regards to junk foods which you will no doubt crave from time to time, and help you create a menu (including pig-out times) that will actually help you burn more fat after baby is born. I have worked with so many women who believe they can eat anything they want while pregnant and are absolutely shocked to see what they look like after the baby is born. On the flip side, I have worked with clients who ate to their heart's content during the pregnancy and burned the baby fat very quickly after the baby is born. Here's the trick -- you must be patient and interview nutritionists who have worked with women in your condition. As for references and check them!
Get a trainer. Again, I know money is a concern but you want to be sure you are working out to a healthy program that will be easy on your joints -- a constant consideration in your condition -- yet still building strong muscles and endurance. Yes, you will want to work your endurance and specific muscle groups just for the big show -- labor and delivery day. You will hear horror stories women LOVE to tell in regards to their own labor and delivery. Bah! Don't listen. If you work your upper back, arms, abs and legs throughout your pregnancy, you will not have to strain or be drained as so many are. This same trainer -- again, you MUST be sure your trainer is fully qualified and has worked with women in your condition; you cannot have someone will-nilly creating a workout routine and risk injuring you -- will help you on the road to six-pack abs.
The reality is --- yes, it will be hard to get back and will NOT come back over night. However, first-time moms have better recovery of the abdominal muscles but the best thing you can do is diet. What you eat now will certainly help you get back the bod you want. Finally, yes... proper diet, REST, water [helps to keep your muscles hydrated and resilient], prenatals and a safe but strong workout routine will help develop muscles to combat the progression of the diastasis.
We strongly urge that once you have your TEAM BABY lined up, you discuss the long-term plans with your OB/GYN. Good luck and please let us know how things go!
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!