Ok, so after an amazing 10 days of sunshine with my family in Turks & Caicos, a couple things became incredibly clear to me:
- My kids are awesome, and super fun little people
- My husband and I desperately needed a break from our hectic schedules
- I still look pregnant even though my daughter is 16months old (sigh)
Bloating is definitely a factor, as my late day "belly bump" was always more prominent after some epic vacation dining. According to Dr. Laura Belus, bloating has become such a common problem these days that many people think it’s normal (it’s not). Bloating, or indigestion can signify a few things: a food sensitivity, eating too large of a meal, eating too quickly, or eating while stressed.
The 2 largest culprits to bloating are wheat & dairy. Most patients I test for food sensitivities show issues with these two food groups. Aim to reduce, if not eliminate, these foods from the diet and see how your body responds. If the bloating has been a long-standing issue, you may benefit from a digestive enzyme to help break down your food so that you feel less discomfort after eating.
-- Dr. Laura Belus
So I need to revamp my diet - I know this will make a huge difference. But another common postpartum issue is Diastasis Recti, and this I wasn't familiar with. So after many google searches, some belly button probing, I self-diagnosed this issue and I'm pretty sure I need some help! (Sara Haley has a great video here on how to check and what to check for.)
If you aren't familiar with Diastasis Recti, it refers to a separation in the abdominal muscle, either due to pregnancy, being overweight or other extreme expansions of the belly. Sounds awesome right...sigh. Clearly this is going to take some work to repair, so I reached out to Dara Bergeron, Belly Bootcamp Founder & Head Trainer, to shed some light for us.
Here's what she said:
First, get thee to a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist for a one-on-one treatment plan. Physiotherapy is a standard part of postpartum care in some countries but not yet in Canada, although people like us can make more noise about it and tell our politicians we want better post-birth care! Physiotherapy is covered by most insurance plans and you shouldn’t need a doctor’s referral. Your PT will asses your pelvic floor as she would assess any other muscles: by palpating with her fingers, & checking the strength & length of the tissues.
Wondering how long it will take to get back to your favourite exercises? Check out this interview with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
Most abdominal separation comes hand-in-hand with pelvic floor dysfunction, even if you don’t notice any major symptoms or don’t “pee yourself” regularly. Best to have it assessed and be sure you’re treating the whole pelvic and core system, with the best knowledge & tools you can!
Your core muscles are built to work as a system, centred around the breath. By learning to breathe deeply, with good alignment, we can activate these neglected deep core & pelvic floor muscles to move them through a full range of motion. We get better breathing, better healing, better energy, and better functioning core muscles!
Check out this article on why breathing is the “core exercise” you might be missing:
Next, stop creating intra-abdominal pressure which pushes against the separated muscles (and the pelvic floor tissues). Until you’ve got an assessment and/or are under the guidance of a qualified trainer, skip the following:
- Plank / face down positions including pushups and, sometimes, hands/knees
- High-impact exercises and running
- Weighted twisting exercises
- Boat pose, pilates “hundreds” and other targeted abdominal exercises
- Situps, crunches and other motions — even during your everyday life, such as when you get out of or into bed — which compress the abdominal area
If you do have Diastasis Recti &/or pelvic floor dysfunction, these 5 safe core moves will help you re-connect & strengthen. During your everyday life, start paying attention to the following mama tendencies, all of which might contribute to the slow healing of your abdominal separation. Try not to:
- Hold your breath when you lift something heavy or pick up your little one; instead begin to exhale (see breathing post above) to relieve abdominal pressure just before/as you begin to pick up your toddler or lift the grocery bags from the trunk.
- Tuck your bum under. Instead, soften your knees while standing so they have a micro bend in them, and centre your weight over the arch of your foot. While seated, use a pillow under your tailbone to help you learn to un-tuck it and feel your sitting bones under you. These are the best positions to practice your diaphragmatic breathing and will also help restore better posture in general.
- Lift anything which forces you to hold your breath or “bear down,” until you are completely healed & symptom free. Keep all weight-lifting and exercise challenging but not so challenging you can’t do a proper inhale and exhale on each rep.
Here's a great article for some MUST-KNOW tips and a workout video to help you connect with your deep core & pelvic floor at home.
And feel free to reach us on social media @bellybootcamp or at https://bellybootcamp.ca to book a free trial class at one of our 7 Toronto locations, or find out more about online or in-person fitness training to help you safely & effectively reach your postpartum fitness goals!
So there we are. Diet + the right types of exercise may help get us all back on track to our best bodies ever. Oh, and don't forget to keep that skin soft and moisturized too - because even my poking out, fully rounded belly looks better with healthy skin!
Stay beaut(eco)ful friends,
About Dara Bergeron
Since 2009, Belly Bootcamp has brought women together through our award-winning Toronto group classes and our fun & friendly online, and at-home, personal training. Mama-of-3 and founder Dara Bergeron Belly Bootcamp delivers exceptional programming in a no-nonsense, down-to-earth style that mamas love.
About Dr. Laura Belus
Dr. Laura Belus is a licensed naturopathic doctor in Toronto who focuses on hormone balance, healthy skin, boosting energy levels & anti-aging. She believes in getting to the root cause of the issue so that the body can return to a state of vibrant health. By using the best of both natural & modern medicine, she can effectively target the problem and get you feeling your best, faster!
About Lines of Elan:
At Lines of Elan, we believe in beauty from the inside out. All of our natural + organic products are crafted with high quality ingredients like; cold-pressed oils, unrefined butters and 100% pure essential oils and formulated to be gentle, non-toxic, and incredibly effective. Our goal is to bring you green beauty products that you want to use on your entire family - all derived from the power of nature.