I think most singers now are pretty on board with maintaining a healthy body as part of a healthy instrument. Physical activity is one of my favourite ways to clear my head and reconnect to my body, and I sing better on the days I make time for it. I was in really great shape before I got pregnant. Not long after I discovered I was pregnant, I became super slow and felt weak on a good day. Pregnancy cravings and my diet didn’t help; I probably ate more ice cream and pizza when I was pregnant than in my whole life combined. Not an exaggeration, miraculously I don’t weigh 500lbs. I told myself all day every day, ‘It’s ok, it doesn’t last forever. The baby will get here and I’ll get my body back’. Obviously this is my first and I was clueless. Fast forward 9 months: I’m sure it’s part sleep deprivation, part breastfeeding, all hormones, but pizza and ice cream are still my favourite food groups and my mph average is still pretty slow even on a good day. Ugh. Granted I’m pushing a stroller and Baby around while managing a dog on a lead but that’s still much farther away from where I’d hoped to be 9 months postpartum.
Keeping in shape, stretching, and staying connected to the body is all a huge part of singing well due to the [obvious] fact that the body is our instrument. Part of my regular practice and maintenance routine is a strength workout, which has been pretty basic for the past year. None of the fancy stuff I did pre-baby like exercise ball pikes or a decadent amount of pull ups. At least I don’t look like a pregnant hippo from Fantasia when doing floor workouts anymore, so there’s that. During a workout a couple months ago I placed a hand on my abdomen and discovered a HOLE!! Like a mini Grand Canyon that runs down my midsection! Freaked me right out. As a singer all those muscles functioning well is a pretty big deal, which is why the idea of a C-Section scared me so much. Sure enough, my abs had separated during pregnancy and hadn’t reconnected after, something called ‘Diastasis Recti’ that’s actually more common than I realised. Nothing like high stats to make one feel less freak-ish in one’s dysfunction. I’d heard about Diastasis Recti briefly but hadn’t paid attention to information I’d heard in passing before birth. I assumed that it happened to ‘weak’ people who didn’t exercise or teach breath, posture and alignment for a living. Apparently doing the wrong postural exercises excessively can actually make it much worse. Shows you what I know.
Diastasis Recti simplistically defined is when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy but the connective tissues don’t reconnect completely after birth. If you google it you’ll get a bunch of information, but this article is pretty succint:
This article from Wellness Mama is also a good resource:
I can’t believe I now regularly keep tabs on a non surgical hole in my stomach in the context of finger widths – 1 finger width is considered rehabilitated apparently – but there you go. Never say never! In the next post I’ll write about a few exercises and practical tips that have helped me with closing the gap. Diastasis Recti can seem quite scary as a singer. I cried on the floor when I connected the dots, but that could have been the broken 5 hrs sleep I had the night before compounded by several months of barely a wink. DR isn’t so bad really, and rehab has helped improve my posture and alignment in a way I don’t think I would have improved without it. Have a look, at the very least it will be a bit of interesting information!