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Together Again: Diastis Recti

Julie Tupler can help you keep your ab muscles intact.

Together Again: Diastis Recti

A woman’s body post-pregnancy can be full of surprises – hello to still looking 7 months pregnant when you leave the hospital, leaky boobs, and night sweats – but most of these surprises are the result of our bodies natural healing process as hormone levels shift, organs contract, and our focus shifts from growing a human on the inside to caring for a newborn on the outside.

However, some “surprises” linger longer than others and a diastasis recti is one such surprise. What is it, you ask? In a nutshell, the term refers to the separation of the left and right halves of your abdominal muscles. Normally these two halves are joined via connective tissue but during pregnancy, the growing uterus often weakens this connective tissue, causing your abdominal muscles to shift and the weakening of muscles that play a key role in supporting your back and your organs.

A diastasis can result in cosmetic issues like the dreaded “mummy tummy” and can also lead to back pain, pelvic weakness, and other issues which stem from a weakened core. As such, it’s something many women in New York and beyond are eager to avoid or repair, and when the time comes, Julie Tupler is usually the first person they call.

A registered nurse, certified childbirth educator and certified personal trainer, Tupler is a pioneer in the field of maternal fitness, with a special focus on the prevention and repair of diastasis recti. Her practice takes women through a comprehensive program, either in person or online, that has been proven to significantly help heal their abs.

Below, Tupler tells us more about diastasis recti, how women can care for their bodies during and after pregnancy, and how they can regain their strength in the months following their little one’s arrival.

How did you come to focus on caring for this unique aspect of women's health?

While teaching a prenatal exercise class for pregnant women, I was surprised to learn that most childbirth classes focus on preparing a woman’s mind for labor and skip the very important task of training a woman’s body for labor, too. Labor is just like running a race –- you need to train both your mind and your body!

In 1990 I started Maternal Fitness and began working with women early in their pregnancies to train them for the “race” of labor by focusing on the proper use of their ab and pelvic floor muscles. In the process of working with pregnant women and new moms, I discovered the condition diastasis recti and I could not find anything about how to treat this condition that caused back pain, poor posture, and put women at a higher risk for a C-section. This led me to develop the Tupler Technique® for treating diastasis recti and preparing women for the marathon of labor.

How do you help clients repair a diastasis?

The goal of my work with clients is to heal the weakened connective tissue that joins your outermost abdominal muscles. As the connective tissue becomes stronger and shallower, the muscles gradually come together. A key component of my technique involves the Diastasis Rehab Splint, which is like wearing a cast when you have a broken bone -– you want to keep the connective tissue in your abs in the same position so they will heal. We also work on putting the muscles in a better position while working to strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles that are key to performing every-day movements.

What does a typical rehab/recovery process look like for women who are diagnosed with a diastasis?

Once your doctor gives you the all-clear to return to exercise, you can begin working on treating your diastasis. However, this often takes time. While a smaller diastasis can be closed in 6-8 weeks, a more serious separation may require 6-12 months of work. Know that it’s never too late to begin healing your diastasis!

How do I know if I have a diastasis?

Many women do not know they have a diastasis as abdominal separation is not something OB-GYNs routinely evaluate. If a woman has had a baby, there is a good chance she has a diastasis and that it will get worse with each baby. The symptoms can be seen easily if a woman has severe diastasis –- a protruding belly or belly button or large bulge when you get up from lying on your back –- but can also be more subtle, with obvious signs only appearing in subsequent pregnancies.

Try this easy self-test to see if you have a diastasis and note that you’re checking for the distance between your ab muscles and the condition of the connective tissue that joins them:

1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.

2. Put one hand slightly above your belly with your fingertips pointing down to the floor. If you have a protruding belly button or a bulge when you bring your head and shoulders up, you will need to use two hands to check your diastasis.

3. With your abdominal muscles relaxed, gently press your fingertips down while you lift up your head. When the muscles first start to move, evaluate how many fingers fit between the two separated muscles to determine the distance between your ab muscles. Also check how deep your fingers go, which will determine the condition of the connective tissue. The deeper your fingers go, the weaker your connective tissue. If you feel a pulsing when you check, this is also a sign of weak connective tissue.

4. Repeat step 3 two more times, with your fingers three inches above your belly button and three inches below.

5. If you have 2 fingers and the connective tissue is shallow, you likely do not have a diastasis. However, if you have room for 2+ fingers and your fingers go deep into your abdomen or you feel pulsing, you most likely have a diastasis.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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