Postnatal Return to the Mat
Leah Stewart
Class 1504

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I loved the class, although I am 11 months post partum, and I though having a heavy baby has given me strong arms. I loved the rolling like a ball / single leg stretch variation and the squatting cats.
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I'm NOT post-partum ... and I usually practice all different levels of mat, frequently. Maybe it had a lot to do with the weights (and of course, Leah's instruction) but this was a delicious and challenging jump starter after being away from Pilates for about a month.
Hi Leah. Thanks again for your classes! Quick question. I'm now 5 months pp (second baby) and healing well and feeling strong. On the classic diastisis test I now only have 1.5 finger separation and the abdominals draw together well (I only had 2 finger seperation immediatley post partum). I'm starting to introduce thoracic flexion. However, if I do a diastisis style test with my fingers when I'm in full spinal flexion e.g. rolling like a ball, I still find my abdominals still "gape" like a too-tight cardigan (around the tummy button. Is that normal when in full flexion. I guess I never tested it first time round (with baby one) but now I've noticed it I wondered what your thoughts are. There's no abdominal bulging ....just a feeling that the two sides aren't drawing together fully and, as I say, only when in full acute spinal (pelvic and thoracic) flexion, it doesn't happen when in only thoracic flexion e.g. curl up. Will this just get better as I get stronger? Thanks!
Anna and Miriam - thank you both for you comments, I am so happy that you enjoy the class

Leonie - I am so happy to hear that you are healing well and feeling strong. The separation of a diastasis is normally mostly present near the belly button as that was the apex of your pregnant belly. By most accounts and definitions, a diastasis recti is defined by a separation of two finger tips or more. By that definition, you are doing very well. Now remember, you will still feel the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscles with the linea alba in the middle, particularly in certain ranges of motion or when all of the synergistic muscles are not firing or functioning to their full potential (time, healing, good technique and practice will help this).

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If you have good control of your muscles during the movement, as you said, with no bulging, then you are in a good position. I cannot say whether your 1.5 finger tip gap will "fully close", but I can say that as you get stronger with proper technique and with natural healing (you are still quite early postpartum) you will experience more control in all ranges of motion, and hopefully experience less of that "gape" you describe and the muscles will continue to thrive in their functionality for support and movement. Does all this make sense? Let me hear your thoughts, and we can continue the conversation
Hi Leah! Thanks so much for taking time to reply. That is very helpful and reassuring and it's kind of what I expected you to say! I guess it's always harder to get a full active abdominal firing in exercises like rolling lie a ball where you can rely perhaps too much on the hands holding the shins (and also gravity) to keep you in position. I was just having a little play and I think for now on those sorts of exercises I'll try and just take myself as flexed as my abs alone will get me, if that makes sense, which may be less of a ball but makes it easier for me to really focus on drawing the abs together to keep me there. Also, it appears the wider gap occurs any time I am in full flexed table top (supine) so I am going to release the hip flexion a bit, so I can focus more on drawing the abs together in that position too (e.g. the hundred prep). It's oddly easier to pull the muscles closed with straighter slightly lowered legs than flexed at the hip and knee...
It's odd, you get so far and regain control of the muscles but then that almost sets you further back as you realise the limitations you are still faced with until everything fully heals! Thank you again!
Leah, I loved this class! I'm 9 months postpartum and looking for a regular class to build up my strength. I've been finding even level 1/2 classes in regular series to be really challenging to my abs, while the beginning classes have so much explanation that the pace isn't challenging enough. This was just the perfect pace and difficulty. I also really enjoyed your teaching energy and vibe. Do you have a regular class through P.A. that I can follow?
Hi Leah,
I feel both energized and relaxed after your post natal classes ! 30minute classes are easier to fit into the crazy new mum schedule too!:) One question to ask - it's kind of similar to Leonie's but not quite. I have been practicing prenatal pilates throughout my pregnancy and doing your postnatal classes after the delivery (natural). Now I am 12 postpartum and have a 1,5 finger gap in my addominal muscles when doing the diastasis recti test. However the gap completely disappears when I contract the muscles and there is no bulging (both when contracted or relaxed). Can I start adding slowly traditional pilates exercises or should I wait until the gap completely closes? Is it going to close if I am 12 weeks postpartum?
All the best!
Barbara
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