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Mother of four and longtime BLANQI fan, Marina has spent the past five years dedicated to caring for new mamas in her role as a postpartum nurse. Well-versed in the toll that childbirth takes on our bodies, she's shedding light on a common postpartum condition that goes largely overlooked. New “mommy tummy” isn't always what it seems. Read on for Marina's personal account with Diastasis Recti.
In my free time, I enjoy sharing content that I create on Instagram that tells the story of my motherhood and postpartum journey, and what it's like to juggle all things mommy and my career. I've been a registered nurse for 5 years now and quickly found my passion in postpartum, where I take care of both mom and baby shortly after delivery until they discharge home to start their independent journey through the fourth trimester. I have a huge passion for postpartum education and postpartum mental health as I feel these are things that aren't talked about enough. I wanted to bring a little light to a very common postpartum condition that many women experience, but often don't even know they have and confuse it for a very stubborn “mommy tummy”. It happens to be a condition I personally experienced after having my babies, and I would love to share my journey on how it was discovered and how I'm working to correct it.
After having my fourth baby, I knew better than to have unrealistic expectations for when I might fit into my pre-maternity jeans again *cue the Blanqi Postpartum Support Skinny Jeans* but as the weeks went on and my weight started to drop down post baby, it was hard not to notice the bulge in my belly that still existed that left me looking really, well, pregnant still.
I could almost feel the loss of core strength as I pressed into the center of my belly with my fingers and felt a gap between my muscles. Just as I started to suspect, and after confirming with my doctor, it was evident that I had what's called diastasis recti, more easily known as the separation of the large abdominal muscles. This is a common condition in pregnancy and postpartum caused by all the stretching that happens during pregnancy to accommodate a growing baby and can often take an extra toll on your body postpartum.
Treatment often depends on severity and your common crunches and sit ups won't help; in fact they can make the condition worse. Special postpartum exercises that focus on breathing and correctly engaging your deep core muscles are used to reduce the appearance of diastasis recti. Using a belly band for support can help decrease the discomforts brought by diastasis recti and improve posture. In more severe cases, reconstructive surgery might be necessary if diet and exercise alone are not effective. After switching the types of exercises, I was doing to ones that were more beneficial to healing my diastasis recti, I noticed a significant decrease in my post baby pooch, though it's still a work in progress.
Though diastasis recti can often be uncomfortable, it is reassuring to know that there are treatment options and when done consistently over time, physical therapy alone can oftentimes be enough to correct some cases of diastasis recti. I've learned to work through the process and slowly but surely find confidence in the “mommy body” created by the four humans I love oh so much.
If Marina's story has taught us anything, it's the power of sharing our stories. Speak up. Consult your doctor. Ask fellow mamas. You're not alone in your postpartum challenges. There are resources and treatment options available. Help is out there, mama!
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