I’ve been saying this for years but after having a baby, you really should go to a physical therapist for your pelvic floor and if you believe you have a diastasis recti.
As a personal trainer, you do not learn the basics when it comes to healing. While I have done a ton of research and know “what to do and what not to do” when it comes to DR safe exercises, my own 2 finger separation was not closing up.
For starters, I listened to some poor advice on the internet without cross referencing. Second, I thought I was “enough postpartum” to jump back into the hard ab exercises. I stopped doing modifications and was being stupid starting at 6 months postpartum.
This derailed my progress. I noticed that my stomach looked different after Connor than it did after Tommy but I just blamed it on being a second baby. I also did minimal ab work while pregnant so I just thought my starting point was weaker, too. I want my abs to be back together again so I don’t cause any further damage and can go back to my favorite studios. And maybe, I was just being too hard on myself! I wanted a second opinion. Maybe I would leave after 1 session and she would say, “You’re doing great! You don’t need PT.”
So I went to a PT in Back Bay (Boston) based on a personal recommendation (not the internet), Melissa Hines at Wellest. I’ve only gone once but it was quite the educational experience. Part of me wants to share everything she showed and told me but part of me doesn’t because the information was personalized to my condition and depending on your situation, the recommendations may be different.
First, we chatted about pregnancy and exercise. Then she felt around my belly while lying down on a table. She agreed that I had a 2 finger separation but that my body was responding well to a massage she was doing to it. I don’t know the exact term but I’d say it was like a sports massage that felt very gentle but was releasing muscles and pulling them in different directions – things I could never do to myself and no one but a PT who specializes in DR would be able to do!
She also did an internal exam to check my pelvic floor which was unexpected but it taught me that I was doing kegels wrong. Again, something someone who doesn’t specialize in pelvic floor muscles would not have been able to tell me. I was doing them OK and apparently I have a strong pelvic floor for 6 months PP but I draw up from my behind vs the urethra if you get my drift… lol.
She showed me a few exercises to do with a sheet around my waist I’ll share on Instagram later this week. I was sent home with a list 2 abs exercises to do daily with the sheet as well as kegels. I can’t wait to go again next week.
She also advised me to stop doing some of the ab work I started to reintroduce so I’m going to stop going to BTone again for a bit which is my favorite ab workout in Boston but I’m just not ready again.
One tip that I learned and wanted to share was that when you do heel taps, instead of tucking and shortening your abdominal wall in front, you should have a neutral spine and try to lengthen them in front WITHOUT arching your back (as I said, neutral spine but look for length). I was always pressing my low back into the floor and shortening my abs.
I am paying out of pocket and submitting to insurance as an out of network provider but we have a deductible so likely it won’t be covered anyway. It’s an investment but one I don’t think I will regret. I need to make sure to do my homework however, otherwise it won’t be worth it, ya know? Many insurance companies do however cover the costs so you gotta find a provider.
Bottom line, go see a PT for your pelvic floor if you have had a child!
Thanks for sharing this, Sarah! I’m 26 and haven’t had any children, but ending up working with and benefiting greatly from a pelvic floor PT after years of u explained hip and lower back pain. Pelvic floor PTs are incredible and hard to find so thanks for recommending one in a metropolitan area and for encouraging others to look into it! Ladies who haven’t had children, don’t think it may not be for you if you’re suffering with hip or lower back pain or find that you’re peeing a little when you laugh, jump, or run. 🙂
Melinda Harte says
Hi Sarah! So happy that you are excited to start PT! It’s great that you were able to find someone by word of mouth -- another great resource is the American Physical Therapy Association website which has a “Find a PT” page where you can filter to look for those with a Women’s Health specialty. This may be a good resource to share with others who are having a hard time finding a PT.
I just had a baby 9 months ago. I have a super weak pelvic floor. I was never taught how to do them correctly, I never understood the lift part until now! I started seeing a PT at around 7 weeks PP and it was the smartest thing I had done! I was referred to mine from my doctor so insurance covered it especially since I had met my deductible! But I talked with a PT before hand and they mentioned that pregnancy, while natural, can wreak havoc on the body! So just like after something like knee surgery, you don’t just have the surgery and expect everything to be ok after rest… you go to PT to strengthen the muscles and make sure you heal properly! Painful sex and peeing while running or sneezing isn’t normal! I’ve now convinced other friends to go checked out. Also I thought I was ok to start exercising after 6 weeks, I mean I ran a marathon at 10 weeks pregnant and worked out up until I gave birth. But I didn’t want to risk jumping into exercise and get injured all bc I couldn’t wait. A lot of my muscles were very tense and needed lots of help releasing! It’s been great help and I’ll feel ready and strong when number 2 comes along!
I’m literally almost 5 years pp but just searched online for why I stillllll look 20 weeks all the time. I don’t think I have the abdominal separation, but your before and after pic is like me… could that still benefit me if it’s likely not diastasis recti?!
Potentially!!! You may just have weak transverse abdominals too!