Mighty Mommy Monday – Abs edition

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!

 

I totally took last week off. I didn’t keep up with my running training plan, lift weights or swim. It was spring break, I felt like it was excusable… especially since my race isn’t until October and skipping a few runs this far out won’t be that big of a deal. I went shopping for a dress for Easter and came to the realization that I’m in serious need of summer clothes. And in the same vein, will need new jeans next fall since I’m getting really tired of constantly pulling this pair up every time I move. Even though I slacked off with the cardio, I did keep up the abs. And that’s what we are talking about today!

I was around 30 weeks pregnant with Liam when he flipped from the fetal postion into the pike he would spend the next many, many weeks in. We were working on his nursery and that morning when I got up, my stomach muscles hurt. I felt damaged but didn’t know why the pain in the middle of my stomach was there – extending from the top of my belly to right below my belly button. After he was born, the pouch at the top of my belly never went away. After Sylvi was born, I could hardly even sit up without help because my core was useless. I will never forget the day when I discovered what diastasis recti is and the feeling of horror when no matter how hard I attempted to flex my muscles, my entire hand fit between them with room to spare on either side.

So, now what? To begin, traditional ab exercises will only serve to split your Transverse Abdominals further. In order to heal the abdominal separation, you need to think of your muscles like a zipper that is only connected at the bottom. The goal is to “zip” up, so you’ll begin work with the muscles at the bottom. I’m going to share with you the exercises I did daily for months to pull my muscles back together and still do several times a week to maintain the healing… I enjoy ab workouts and now that my muscles are strong again, I can get carried away and neglect the my transverse abs which I’ve noticed will cause my belly to puff out at the top again.

  • Plank – I love my plank. Full plank, elbow plank or moving from hands to elbow. It works your whole body, but without straining those muscles weakened by the separation. Even if you can only hold a plank for 5 seconds the first time you do one, you’re helping your body!! When your abs start to shake and droop, it’s time to stop your plank. The point is to strengthen the muscles, little by little, not to damage them further, so be gentle with yourself.
  • Bridge pose – I started out using a splint to hold my abs together, but don’t anymore. This video is a wonderful example of both the plank and the bridge pose. 
  • Reverse crunch – tiny little movements that lift your booty off the floor, but work on the deepest abdominal muscles. This is a good example of a reverse crunch, even if you don’t dress that glamorously when you workout 😉
  • Plank with leg lift – Holding plank position, left your left leg and stretch your right arm out in front of you. Alternate legs/arms. 
  • Bicycle –  This video will show you how to move your legs, but instead of crunching up your upper body, kept that flat to the floor, concentrating on scooping your abs together and using them to support your legs. If your stomach begins to pooch out from the effort, call that your set and stop.

When I work my Transverse Abs, I shoot to do this routine 3 times over with a minimum of 10 reps and hold for time on the plank and bridge poses. I also will swap these exercises into my Jillian Michaels dvd workouts so I don’t cause further damage trying to keep up with her.

I read somewhere that Diastasis Recti happens on 30% of pregnancies, but it doesn’t always look the same. I have a workout buddy who also had a significant separation, but her belly looks nothing like mine from the surface. I’d encourage you to check your belly to make sure your abs are not separated prior to beginning an ab routine. What you don’t know can hurt you even if you don’t notice it right away!

All of it

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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I stumbled around writing this post.  This month’s carnival topic is on embracing your birth experience.  I didn’t have dramatic births.  Both of them went essentially according to plan, even though Liam’s birth was much harder than I had imagined.  I wasn’t short on education in the field of birth.  I had the best instructor and a wonderful team mate.  When labor started, I felt prepared.  After all, I had watched many, many births both in reality tv format and Old Western Movie format.

That being said, I didn’t count on how I would feel.  I didn’t realize I was going to be in such an unladylike… ah… position for so long.  I didn’t count on my personal modesty being such an issue.  While in labor I kept apologizing about being so… ugh.  Ok, look.  Other women I know were freaked out about pain or tearing or vomiting or pooping.  I did not care one cent for any of those certain moments.  Not at all.  The hardest challenge for me above missing my mom, above Liam twisting and turning inside me with each contraction, above the agonizing back labor… my biggest challenge was that I was at my most vulnerable for much longer than I had planned on being vulnerable.

When my friends would talk about their favorite moment of delivery, it always had something to do with the birth itself.  I love that first contraction.  I love the last contraction.  I love even that freakishly wobbly feeling as your child slips out.  Honestly, I even loved the moment I tore right before Liam came out because I knew all the pain was over and I was finally getting to hold him.  I did not love not wearing my underpants for 16+ hours.

When I was in labor with Sylvi, I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t as modest as I’d like to have been.  I tried all sort of ridiculous options to be covered, but as it turned out, they just wound up on the floor and I had to give up.  The moment I embraced the whole process of my labor and got over the fact that I was embarrassed that I had asked for help and for Tylenol (again!) and had sat in the bathtub and sobbed, my labor came to a complete lull.  For one glorious, peaceful hour, I got to embrace the nearness of birth without fear, without care, without pain.  Of course, at 1001am, the wicked contractions kicked in again and 24 minutes later, I was holding Sylvi in my arms.

This isn’t a really cohesive post and for that I apologize.  I don’t have one epic moment to embrace in my birth experiences.  I have to embrace it all.  If I hold on to fear of failure or pain or potential “failure” from my plans, I can’t embrace the method by which my child comes to my arms.  If I allow myself to focus solely on the fact that while in labor, I am decidedly unladylike and downright primal, I cannot let go enough to birth my child.  I know that if we have another child, I will struggle to accept naked vulnerability once again, but I know how to do it now.  I’m grateful for simple birth experiences that are filled with my own personal struggles.  I’m grateful I’ve gotten to have my own desires in how these births have played out.  And I’m so grateful for healthy, beautiful children.  I grateful I have birth experiences to even embrace.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)