I first realized I had a diastasis recti when I was pregnant with my first baby. I was able to fully close it and strengthen my core. You can view my success story in my first video here.
After I healed my DR, I did 21 Day Fix. I actually did the 21 Day Fix meal plan while I finished up the Mutu System– I love the meal plan! Then I did the full program once I finished Mutu. Not long after, I found out I was pregnant with baby #2! I was so excited as I had closed my DR; my core was strong, I had muscle tone and had lost all the baby weight. The timing could not have been more perfect!
My Pregnancy Journey in Keeping my Diastasis Recti Closed
Since I had so much success with the Mutu System I decided to make this a priority. I felt strong enough to also do T25 with modifications (no crunches or V shape exercises). I continued to use the 21 Day Fix meal plan as well since my goal was a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition for my baby. I adjusted my calorie level for being pregnant as well as still nursing my two year old. Overall, I had days that I was too tired and didn’t do anything, but I had a lot of good days. I also made an effort to walk frequently with my 2 yr old. Towards the end of the 1st Trimester my core still felt strong. I’ll be honest though, I was still a little paranoid that as I progressed in my pregnancy my diastasis would open again. Around this time I stopped doing Mutu but still applied what I learned from this program in T25– AND I started Piyo.
Even though my DR remained closed, I decided to check out the Prenatal Core Training program from the Tummy Team. Although the Mutu program is excellent, I just had to make sure to try the one program that is specifically for pregnancy and diastasis. This way I would know that I truly did everything I could to prevent another DR. I also liked that they included the preparation for labor and delivery.
I really didn’t want to waste money on a program that is just like Mutu or Tupler. I already had both these programs and while I recommend Mutu over Tupler, I definitely benefited from Tupler. I just didn’t want another “similar” program.
I talked to a physical therapist with the Tummy Team over the phone and asked them a couple of questions. Since my DR was closed, they recommended that I hold off on wearing a splint unless I started having back pain or other symptoms of a weak core.
Halfway through my second trimester I decided to go ahead and buy the Prenatal Core Training program as well as their pregnancy splint. I still felt like my core was strong but my belly was getting bigger- I just didn’t want to take any chances. Also, I was having a hard time sleeping on my side. I had a wedge pillow under my belly and a body pillow in between my legs but with all the tossing and turning I did at night, having to re-position the pillows for the side I was on got annoying. This is when I decided to use the pregnancy splint- I still used my body pillow but it was a lot more comfortable to have the splint “hold me together” and not have to shift so many pillows around (including one for my back) to be comfortable to sleep. I felt so much better using this splint! I did not use it much during the day except for on a couple of occasions when my back hurt from carrying my 2 yr old all day. Also- I got my ultrasound done and baby looked healthy and beautiful!- ANOTHER GIRL!
I’ll be honest- it makes me sad to look back and think about the 3rd trimester with this pregnancy. I remember starting out thinking I made it past the possibilities of miscarrying a baby. The ultrasound looked great. I was gaining a healthy amount of weight and overall felt good. My diastasis was still closed. I was living the life as a stay at home mom (decided not to go back to working as a nurse for a while) with my 2 year old. I really wanted to spend lots of quality time with her before baby #2.
I remember starting the exercises that pertained to the second week of the third trimester from the Prenatal Training Core program. I specifically remember early morning on October 1 feeling my baby turn head down. Weird feeling! Never felt it with my first! That evening we were at church and I started to feel contractions. These weren’t braxton hicks and I had my baby via emergency C-section that night at 28 weeks. You can read about my miracle baby birth story here if you would like.
Unfortunately, I spent the majority of the next three months in the NICU- my diastasis was the last thing on my mind. I did wear a post partum binder that I requested in the hospital two days after my C-section. I wore it for the first two weeks for most of the day and night. After that, I felt good enough to take it off and felt that my core was strong. After my baby came home, there were a lot of doctor’s appointments due to her prematurity as well as adjustments with a new baby and a 2 year old.
8 week Post Partum check up
At my post-partum check up, I asked my midwife to check my diastasis. You know what she said? “You don’t have a diastasis at all. Not even a little- it’s completely closed!” I’m sure you can imagine my excitement over this good news.
Of course, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but wonder- had I gone to full term would I have a diastasis?
Either way- this was good news. Now I knew that I could begin to work on getting back in shape- this time without worrying about all the different things you can’t do with a diastasis. Yes, I continued to avoid the obvious crunches, but I didn’t have to treat myself like such a fragile person.
Mutu System Review (for Pregnancy)
* For a detailed review of the Mutu System go here. I now want to highlight a review specific to pregnancy.
- Pregnancy FAQ’s:
- The 8 week Focus Core program is safe and beneficial to a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. The key is to keep your core and pelvic floor strong for pregnancy and post baby.
- The 12 week program includes the Focus Core as well as intensives. They are low impact but intense in terms of working your pelvic floor and inner core muscles. They are also safe for a healthy low-risk pregnancy. Wendy encourages you to work through Phase 1-3 at your own comfort level and to save Phase 4 for post baby.
- Wendy also has some pregnancy and exercise guidelines which are good to follow.
- Splinting- there is no splinting in this program
- Nutrition: The 12 week program does come with a food guide which is awesome. She gives you healthy substitutions for food as well as good ideas of what to eat. It is more of a guideline- not a meal plan. You can also check out Mutu Food on Pinterest.
- The Exercises: The exercises are a whole body approach. She has you do a lot of squats as it is great for the pelvic floor. To have a strong pelvic floor you need a strong BUTT! This is very important in pregnancy in order to keep the baby in and up as well as for labor and delivery. The exercises are very low impact. It starts you at a beginner’s level where you are doing simple stretches- but don’t underestimate the power of these stretches as they serve a purpose and help with alignment. The initial Focus exercises seem very tame (6 minutes of stretching)- but if you do it daily, it works! The intensives are also low impact but will get your heart rate up- this is a great time to focus on the quality of your form and that’s when the intensity and the results come in.
Prenatal Core Program from the Tummy Team Review
The Prenatal Core Program is an online 6 week program offered by the Tummy Team. They recommend you start during the second trimester. When you purchase this, you get access to their private Facebook group where you can ask questions and get support. Every week you will be emailed the link to access the week you are on with short educational videos and printable handouts. The abdominal splint is not included but recommended.
- Week 1: Initial transverse abdominal muscle awareness- you are learning how to become aware of your inner core muscles and slowly building strength and endurance in using them.
- Week 2: Connection- this is a great quote by Kelly with the Tummy Team: “Strength building begins with connecting the muscles you are trying to rebuild.” In this week she teaches you how to build on the initial awareness throughout the day.
- Week 3: Neutral Pelvis and Core Strength- Again per Kelly: “The stretches of the lower body are critical to be able to keep your pelvis neutral and therefore set your core up for success. Neutral pelvis alignment also sets the stage for a strong and healthy pelvic floor.” This was another reminder that all those stretches are very necessary and not to be underestimated.
- Week 4: Pelvic Floor and Practice Pushing- Your pelvis floor is the “floor of your core”. I love the focus on this as it is important to have a strong pelvic floor in order to also have a strong core.
- Week 5: Your Core Strong Birth Plan- Having a baby- even a second or third baby brings a lot of adjustments and it is a time for healing and bonding. So it’s important to be prepared for the baby- not just all the baby things you need or how to care for a baby, but how you are going to take care of yourself- particularly your core. Great quote per Kelly, “As a Physical Therapist, this may be the single most important thing you do in preparing for baby. The chronic postures and activities that accompany caring for a newborn can be so damaging to the body. Some simple preparation and eliminate months and years of chronic pain.” I loved the extra tips that I got here. I know many moms out there can relate to the back pain from hunching over with breastfeeding or holding baby. With a newborn it is also hard to find the time to do exercises for healing your core. The tips I got from Kelly here were simple yet essential in helping with this.
- Week 6: Post Partum Recovery- this week she helps you prepare for your post partum recovery
Education- Every week there are educational videos emailed out along with handouts with details on how to do the exercises for that particular week. In my opinion, this is the best part of the Prenatal Core Program and is what sets it apart from the other programs out there (which are also very good). Kelly explains the science behind the exercises and shows you how to do them. She will answer most of your questions like, “Are we supposed to engage our core all day long?” She also gives you a lot of tips on how you can do these throughout your day. So for those of you who can’t find the time to do a 20 minute routine, you will find these tips very helpful. One of the best things I learned is that what you do the majority of your day is going to have a bigger impact on your health and fitness goals than a short dedicated time for exercise.
Splinting- Splinting is recommended but not necessarily for everyone. I called them to get their opinion on whether I needed one since my DR was closed. They told me only if I had back pain or other symptoms to use one. They did mention that splinting after baby would be necessary. I started getting back pain towards the end of the second trimester and started using the Tummy Team splint. It is not bulky and does not bunch up. The material is thin, stretchy, and very comfortable. I have the Tupler splint as well (size X-small- wasn’t going to work for my pregnancy)- and I found it uncomfortable if I moved around. I mostly wore the Tummy Team splint at night to help me relax and hold my core in while I slept. (You can see in the picture above at 27 weeks what that looked like)
Nutrition- This program does not have a nutrition guide. Nutrition is very important to healing. I followed the 21 Day Fix meal plan. You can also follow a Paleo diet as much as you can.
Exercises- Throughout your day as part of your routine. Lots of tips! They are not complicated or hard but you will feel your inner core working and your muscles getting stronger.
The Downside- Temporary online access (6 months). Keep the handouts in case you are wanting to do this program again with another pregnancy.
My Results- While I did not complete the Prenatal Core program all the way through due to a premature birth, I still had good results. My DR stayed closed! I gained 25 lbs and lost 17 lbs quick after birth. Now to work on those last stubborn 5 lbs 😉 (This time without having to worry about my diastasis).
I will add that since I only had temporary access to the program, I watched the rest of the educational videos and read through the handouts. I have it organized and packed away in case I ever get pregnant again.
The Tummy Team encourages their rehab program after baby. I did not personally do it since my DR was closed and I felt I had already learned a lot from doing Mutu in the past. Certainly this is an option and I have no doubt it would be very beneficial and educational. I do highly recommend Mutu since I did do it and have had great results with it.
Now that I have done both programs I can say that Mutu would have been enough since I already had the program- and it is great for being able to do it after baby as well. However, I very much liked the Prenatal Core Program and the education that is specific to this. If you can afford to buy this program for your pregnancy and then buy Mutu it would not be a waste of money!