Healing Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) with Breathe.

Client Perspective: Kara Swanson’s Story

Growing a baby is no small task. Our bodies go through so much in those 9 months, not to mention the labor, delivery, and then actually taking care of our baby. It all takes a toll on our bodies. 

I’m currently seven months postpartum with my third. I was very active, ate healthy, and took really good care of my body while pregnant. I was able to have a VBAC after two c-sections (you can read more of my journey here) with Shepherd. It was a magical experience – seriously a dream come true. 

Now I’m knee-deep in diapers, nursing, and trying like crazy to get this sweet boy to sleep better at night. I’m realizing more than ever that our bodies go through so much and postpartum is truly a time to heal and allow our bodies to recover from all it went through. I took my time getting back into working out and gave myself grace this time around.

After Shepherd arrived, I knew to check for Diastasis Recti. I had DR with Iylee (my second) so I wanted to check to see if I had it again. I did a quick self-check laying on my back and lifting my shoulders. And sure enough, I could feel the separation. 

It’s always a little bit of a bummer when you realize something isn’t quite right with your body. My job is to help women feel their best from the inside out through simple, easy and delicious nutrition. So I know the frustration and also the work it takes to create healthy habits…whether that’s through nutrition, mindset shifts, or something physical like healing Diastasis Recti.

I met with Molly, co-owner and physical therapist at Breathe. Physical Therapy, back in October to talk about sharing my VBAC experience and she checked my abs and confirmed that I did have DR. A little under two fingers width: “not too bad” I thought. She sent me home with a couple of exercises and it basically ended there. I never did them but still in the back of my mind knew I needed and wanted to actually heal my body. 

Fast forward to today and my back has been hurting. I never have back pain and I just knew something has been off. I thought of my DR and knew it was time to do the work to heal it.

My first (technically second) appointment with Molly was at first a tad bit discouraging. Molly checked my DR again…I now have a three-finger separation. Ugh. Not what I wanted to hear. We talked about my workouts…currently I’m taking barre classes and running. I LOVE that Molly didn’t tell me to stop working out. It’s a huge part of my life and, honestly, my form of therapy. 

Instead, we discussed what moves I should avoid (for now!) and some tips for when I run. I got some modification exercises to do during barre classes as well as exercises to work on at home. 

Putting It To The Test

 I left that appointment feeling optimistic. I was a little discouraged that I couldn’t continue doing all the moves I normally do at barre class but determined to do what I can while still being able to workout. 

The next day I went to a barre class and put the modifications to the test. Not going to lie, doing modifications or doing a completely different exercise while everyone else is doing abs is not fun. I sorta felt like everyone was looking at me and wondering what the heck I was doing. It all felt super limiting.

But I reminded myself that this is just for a season. And healing my body is much more important to me right now. And one day, my abs will be stronger than before and I’ll be able to do all the exercises again, with proper form and a strong core.

What I’m Doing Now

I feel like I’ve got all the tools to heal my DR and I’m so excited to take you along on this journey. I’ve got six-ish exercises to start doing and I’m learning to be aware of my breath and how I navigate my day-to-day life of picking up my kids, carrying the car seat, and even how I’m standing while doing the dishes!  

It can seem overwhelming and let’s be honest, it’s not super fun doing physical therapy exercises. But I just keep reminding myself that it will be so worth it in the end. My core will be so much stronger. I’m also curious to see how healing my core will affect my lower back pain. 

Our bodies are amazing and I’m excited to learn more and heal my Diastasis Recti. And I hope my journey inspires you to either keep doing your DR exercises or start your own journey to heal your core.