The emotional landscape
Getting to know your body after the birth of a baby can be like navigating a new landscape. The lush curviness that baby inhabited is still there, but no longer full of that same life. It can touch on so many issues for women that relate to our relationships to size, to taking up space and to being sexual.
For many it can help to verbalise these relationships through journalling or poetry, art or photography. Sometimes it's helpful to notice and acknowledge without pressure to do.
In the early days and weeks, touch can be a great resource for coming back to your belly. Gentle massage, laying a hand on your tummy or maybe you find your hand drifts there on it's own as it did in pregnancy.
What would it be like to allow that habit of gentle touch and connect to stay?
To honouor the life in your body that made life.
Remember that this midline of your body is soft and sensitive.
Your reconnection does not have to look like the old relationship you might have had to your core.
Flipside - maybe you feel great about these changes. Feeling proud, strong and ready for the next chapter in life can all be part of this pictuure too. And you may have different aspects of these emotional landscapes in your view on different days.
It's all valid.
'This is my belly. Shame puddle. The part I try to ignore and hide. I’ve even couched it in the middle of these paragraphs. It was so pleasurable to have it unapologetically, purposefully pronounced with pregnancy. Now it’s just back to a useless abundance of flesh and reminder of bad habits that bear indication of other things I am probably ignoring in my life. Can I find pleasure in its soft warmth and reserves of energy?'
- Brigid 'This is My Body Poem'
Your post birth body
Physically many people feel different in their core after birth
It might be a sense of not being as strong as before, sometimes that can be a physical thing - up to 60% of us have abdominal seperation after pregnancy.
How can you tell if you have diastasis recti?
It may be that you were checked for this at your GP check-up, if you weren't and would like to explore this, here's a guide to checking yourself (always best if we can do this together in person, but needs must, today's world doesn't always allow and I can't get to see you all individually right now).
How to Test Yourself For Abdominal Separation
The test is often called the ‘Rec Check’, because it’s the Rectus Abdominus muscle (aka the six-pack muscle) that gets affected during abdominal separation. Sometimes the seperation is called 'diastasis recti' you can read more about that and what it means on another post here.
You need to be lying on your back to do the ‘Rec Check’.....but, before you jump down there, here’s the sequence I’d like you to follow to step down onto the floor safely:
- Step down onto one knee
- Place the other knee down, followed by both hands
- Turn onto your side
- Then walk yourself down sideways
- Keeping your knees together, roll over onto your back
SET UP POSITION FOR THE ‘REC CHECK’
- Legs are bent
- Feet on the floor
- Feet and knees are hip-width apart
FINGER TIPS AT THE READY...
Diastasis recti is measured in finger-widths, so you’ll need to place two fingers on your abdominals.
Start with two finger tips above your belly button, pointing them down towards your pelvis.
ACTION FOR THE ‘REC CHECK’ TEST
- With your body and fingers at the ready, we’re good to go.
- You’ll need to do a little ‘sit-up’ and breathe out as you dig your fingertips down into your tummy.
- Wiggle them from left to right slightly, and see if you can ‘feel’ the muscles ‘grab’ the sides of your fingers ever so slightly.
- Repeat above and below your belly button to get an accurate test.
If you find you can fit more than 2 finger widths in this gap here, then you may like to ask me to check your abdominals the next time we can meet to make sure.