A series of five articles on the MOVE blog explores the training journey of our two amazing members, Annika and Ketter, during and after pregnancy. Through stories of their experience, we provide tips and tricks on how to exercise during pregnancy, resume training after giving birth, and how and when to find training opportunities with your baby.

Former athlete and teacher Annika is supported by MyFitness personal trainer Monika Kahro, who has many years of experience as a personal trainer and nutritionist. Monika’s daughter is just over a year old; trainer managed to remain active and athletic during pregnancy, and to this day.

Musician Ketter is supported by MyFitness personal trainer Ethel Igatt. a mother of 4 with 24 years of coaching and 10 years of nutritional experience. Ethel has successfully supported many women who have sought to regain their former physical form after pregnancy and childbirth.

PART IV: Diastasis and exercise

Ketter, have you been diagnosed with diastasis?

During the postpartum examination, the doctor did not check for diastasis. During our conversation, the question of diastasis came up, and I was told that it happens to all pregnant women. In the case of the first pregnancy, diastasis usually recedes quite quickly without leaving a large gap between the abdominal muscles. In future pregnancies, it is probably inevitable. Before starting training, trainer Ethel checked the diastasis. It turned out that I had a small gap (about 1 cm), but it is almost non-existent.

Describe how you started training your body muscles after giving birth and what did you pay the most attention to?

After giving birth, I received information from both the midwife and the physiotherapist that the abdominal area could be allowed to recover calmly after the caesarean section. I accepted the idea that if the baby has to be carried for 9 months, the body should also be allowed to recover for 9 months. During my pregnancy, I also attended hypnobirthing classes. I knew that light exercise would have helped me stay in shape, but I let my body find itself again and trained according to my feelings.

I accepted the idea that if the baby has to be carried for 9 months, the body should also be allowed to recover for 9 months.

In the beginning, I was very reserved about training the muscles of the body. I started with videos available on YouTube. I focused on simpler postpartum workouts and exercises to reduce back pain.

What was the most difficult and hard for you?

For a while, I had a feeling in my stomach that I didn’t recognize my body. At first it was hard to get used to this feeling. After a caesarean section, the abdomen does not retract as quickly as during natural childbirth. The support belt can be worn as soon as the wound has healed and the sutures have dissolved.

In the first three weeks, the body changed noticeably. The stomach also began to return to its former state. It was difficult for me to find the confidence and courage to start training the abdominal area on my own.

How have you progressed thanks to the cooperation with a personal trainer?

Thanks to the trainer, I got the courage to train the muscles of my body, abdomen and back. It was more comfortable for me to work out with a trainer, when she made it clear how far I can train these areas. Initially, the abdomen was very weak. I still feel like some of the nerves haven’t fully recovered after C-section. But every month I feel more and more how the scar tissue under the skin decreases, the softness goes away, and the abdominal muscles become stronger.

Ethel, what is diastasis? Does it have varying degrees in terms of size or scope?

The enlargement of the uterus during pregnancy presses on the edge of the abdomen, causing the rectus abdominis muscles to separate. If the gap is more than 2 cm, it is called diastasis. A common complaint is a bulging stomach and the inability to keep it pulled in. Diastasis is a sign that the body needs more conscious training after pregnancy.

How to determine that a diastasis has occurred?

Diastasis can be checked by a doctor or, for example, a trainer. It is also possible to do it yourself. Lying down with your legs bent, lift your head off the ground while keeping your shoulders down. Then try to feel if there is a bigger gap between the abdominal muscles. The usual gap is 1-2 fingers, with diastasis the gap is larger.

What exercises should be done with diastasis, and which should not be done?

The easiest exercise to start with is belly breathing. Then work on tightening the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Depending on how you feel, you can gradually add in pull-ups with the lower body fixed.

Exercises that cause bloating should be avoided. Various torso and leg raises, planks and twisting movements. Lifting heavy objects should definitely be avoided after childbirth.

Is it possible to completely get rid of diastasis? How can training support the process?

After childbirth, the abdominal muscles can recover within 2-3 months. But it cannot be assumed that they will recover on their own. Diastasis can be reduced by regular exercise. It is also important to maintain proper nutrition and weight. Physiotherapists, as well as surgeons, can help get rid of diastasis faster. I would recommend exercising before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and also after childbirth. This is the easiest way to recover after giving birth.

Each mother’s body recovers differently, and starting working out depends on many factors. If you are thinking about going to a personal trainer, you can find more information on how to find a suitable personal trainer here >


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