In the beginning…
When I got pregnant with my first, I was working full time teaching Pilates, Gyrotonic, and Yoga classes. Like many trainers, finding the time to work out myself was always a challenge. I decided to make a schedule for myself; partially to keep active and healthy for the pregnancy but also to keep off some of the extra pounds associated with first time pregnancies. This of course didn’t work, I gained 50% of my bodyweight… slightly more than recommended (I blame banana pudding from Magnolia bakery). But I did manage to stick with my program and get on the reformer 2 times a week at work, take 1 pre-natal yoga class ( Prenatal Yoga Center, awww I miss that place), and a group Gyrotonic class 2 mornings a week; the early class with all the retired ballerina’s (Gyrotonic Manhattan…. so chic). It was on one of these fateful mornings that I noticed my tummy making rather odd shapes as I blissfully arched and curled my spine away. As this was my first pregnancy I did think for a moment could this be the baby working out with me? Maybe I’ll have a little Gyro baby born with a 6 pack? Realistically at 12 weeks I’m not sure the baby was all that into exercise (that happened more in the last trimester, seriously full on Cirque du Soleil in there). Thankfully my trusted midwives were right down the hall in the same building (only in Manhattan aye).
I’ll never forget the look on my midwives face when she saw my stomach make the “funny shape” not so funny she said. She diagnosed me with a 3.5’ Diastasis. Recommendation: stop all fitness having to do with abdominals, stick with prenatal yoga and that was that. Little did I know I would not use my abdominals again fully for another 4 years.
The trouble with PT
After the baby was born I did get the ok from my midwife to go back exercise with a prescription for Physical therapy. I made an appointment straight away. Unfortunately this type of physical therapy is not covered under our insurance or any insurance for that matter. After years of fighting with the insurance companies to pay for these types of issues associated with childbirth, this practice gave up. We could not afford to pay out of pocket so we chose the next one on the list. Long story short (too late) three “next ones” later I was nowhere closer to healing my Diastasis but after joining a Mommy and baby class at the JCC I was able to fit into my pre-baby jeans after 10 months! (too bad boot cut went out of style. Skinny jeans!!!! So not ready for that). My Diastasis did heal to 2 fingers (not totally healed) and I was able to start teaching Mommy and Baby Pilates classes and kick ass Stroller workouts in Central Park.
Enter 2nd pregnancy
Two years later, was a totally different story. At 4 weeks I was showing… I mean really showing. Over the next few months my body deteriorated from fit strong mom with a small Diastasis, to can’t walk half a block, back ache, pelvic pain, 8 finger Diastasis lady (That’s an awful name I know).
My second pregnancy was challenging to say the least. What was even more challenging was the lack of options available to me. I was told to minimize walking, especially stairs, avoid lifting (even my 2 yr. old) and wear still to this day one of the most ridiculous looking elastic harnesses I’ve ever seen (seriously it did help but you had to see this thing, not my most fashionable moment and in skinny maternity jeans no less!).
After the pregnancy I couldn’t walk for 2 weeks. I never realized how important basic movements are without the use of abdominal muscles. My husband had to do everything from rolling me into bed to getting me dressed. It took me 2 years to lose the 2nd pregnancy baby weight but using the commercial therapy available to me I brought my Diastasis down to 4 fingers.
Here we go again
This time around going to physical therapy was nearly impossible. My husband was traveling a lot and I didn’t have help at home. Once again, a now familiar feeling of helplessness, not only helpless to heal my injury but the inability to take care of my children the way I wanted to. When my little one was 1 we moved from NYC (my home town) to Houston Texas. Known for two things primarily; oil and medicine, I was sure I could get the kind of female help I was unsuccessful in finding in NY. It’s really quite incredible, actual hospital’s just for women, specializing in women’s conditions both pre and postnatal. I scheduled an appointment as soon as I could and to my surprise after explaining my condition thoroughly to the female physician, her recommendation was surgery. When I asked about alternative therapies and advances in this area she had nothing for me. I walked away with yet another prescription for PT but still hopeful. It wasn’t until I walked into my first PT appointment and heard “Hmmm, we can try to fix it?” that I decided someone has to do something about this. In my research I learned potentially 90% of all maternal women have this condition to some degree. Is that insane? Why the heck doesn’t anyone know about this? Its women, moms, population kinda stalls without us you know?
One of the most influential people I encountered during my journey to recovery was an extremely talented sports massage therapist. She of course had never seen anything like this. She would put her entire fist through my stomach, take a deep breath in and say “WOW”… this is wild”. She also helped me to understand how muscles heal, particularly connective tissue (surprisingly something the PT did not know so much about). I already knew how it was injured but the process of healing now seamed so simple. It’s not one therapy but a combination of therapies that can heal this. She explained that the two sides of an injured muscle need to be within a quarter of an inch from each other for the muscle to start pulling itself back together. That was the spark. I started to visualize it as an almost electric connection. The two sides of the muscle coming close enough together to create the spark, and then it begins; the human bodies amazing capacity to develop scar tissue and recreate a perfectly functioning muscle. The muscle never stops trying to heal, it’s never too late but it needs assistance.
The 6 step program
I would see her once a week every time getting a little more information and having creative debates on how scar tissue works, which direction do the muscle fibers run, and most importantly what does a healed muscle feel like and how does it function. Being a retired ballerina I am very much in tune with all the muscles in the body, particularly having to do with control, fast response, and of course the inevitable injury. Pairing this with my knowledge of working with different body types and special conditions, being completely devoted to Pilates, Gyrotonic, and Yoga, and my new found mommy experience, I literally put the pieces together and developed the 6 Step program. 2 months later I healed my Diastasis using the therapy. I have since refined it to be more efficient, detailed and usable for the realistic mom who’s lucky to get a shower in once a week. The system was tested on multiple mothers with varying degrees of Diastasis separation with miraculous results.
I’m so lucky to be able to create and provide this help for women and moms all over the world. We don’t fill the traditional mold anymore. Moms are strong, educated, talented, innovative, essential components to society and the future of people darn it! All I can say is it’s about time.
Go at your own pace * make your own schedule * define your body
Close the gap.