By Meghan Kelly
As long as I can remember, I’ve identified myself as an athlete. I’m a skier, a mountain biker, a whitewater kayaker, and general adventure sports enthusiast. In pursuing these passion sports, I held off on having kids year after year due to opportunities I considered once in a lifetime like obtaining obscure river permits or finding a team and funding for month long ski expeditions. When I was finally ready to be a mom, I became pregnant with triplets! By 24 weeks, I looked like someone who was 40 weeks pregnant. After that, my stomach ballooned to an impossible size. I tried every trick in the book - coconut oil, tallow cream, vitamin E, eating clean - to minimize stretch marks, but by week 33, my stomach couldn’t deal with the sheer size of the babies and started literally breaking apart. I remember turning to my husband one night and saying “my abs are ripping apart and I can’t do anything to stop it.”
Athletes have a keen sense of their physical being and I was fully aware that this pregnancy would drastically affect my body. Luckily a good friend of mine, who is also a physical therapist, kept repeating to me how she would see me after the pregnancy to fix my abs. With this constant reminder, I started seeing Chris right at 4 weeks postpartum with no recommendation from any doctor. My diastasis recti was a full hand width. She could practically feel all my organs with her fist! There was not a single mention of these types of issues by my team of doctors (and when you have triplets, you get a full on TEAM). Could I return to normal activities? My doctors said “sure.” Did my doctors even know what my normal activities were?
Four weeks after having the boys, I skied on snow for the first time and then 2 months after they were born, I tried to waterski. I say tried, because for the first time since learning, I couldn’t get up on the ski! My core was really weak and I just kept breaking at the waist. So, I doubled down on physical therapy and I stuck to less core-intensive sports for a few months. I worked my way down from a fist size gap in the fascia between my abs (the linea alba) to a 1 finger gap. I jumped right back into sports, skiing, water skiing, or biking nearly daily. I don’t think this helped my abs heal, but it did help me reoccupy my personal identity, as an athlete.
One Year Later
Pregnancy-related pains persisted and new pains appeared. Certain movements triggered sharp pains in my abdomen, back, and SI joint, which are all related to core strength. A year later, my gynecologist suggested I may have a hernia and a saw a general surgeon for a consultation. The surgeon found an umbilical hernia and recommended surgery - but after surgery I wouldn’t be able to pick up anything more than 10 lbs for 6 weeks. With just one year old triplets, that seemed impossible and still does, even though they are 2 and running everywhere. I plan on getting it fixed, but am waiting for now, wearing one piece bathing suits and trying less invasive repairs. I signed up to see an Osteopath and she started the process of massaging my organs back into place. She was able to feel tears in other places in my abdomen. We’re working together to fix these issues, but it is a long and slow process that should’ve all been done in the first year postpartum, if not the first few months. Even in single pregnancies, postpartum issues like this seem to be the norm, not the exception, but postpartum care is something the mother has to seek out on her own. I’m still seeking and I’m looking forward to learning more on Matriarc.
WELLNESS, MEDITATION, EXERCISE AND COMMUNITY FOR MOMS
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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.