As some of my Instagram followers may know (@runninggirlhealth), I've been recovering from a postpartum-related surgery. If you're a recent mom and especially a twin mom and have been dealing with ab separation (diastasis recti), read on. You can also just scroll on down to the luscious chocolate zucchini carrot cake below that I made for my mom recently; it's absolutely divine, and vegan and easily made gluten-free.
About two weeks ago I had surgery to repair a hernia and ab separation. As you may have seen from a previous post, I had been seeing a physical therapist to try to heal my ab separation as much as possible. Though I was able to strengthen my core somewhat, I was strengthening it from a stretched out position and not really closing the space between my separated muscles. When I lay on my side, I had still been feeling like my insides were falling out. Though the combination of ultrasound, massage and electrotherapy helped some with the pain/discomfort as well as firmed the area slightly, I wasn't able to close the gap, and I was still feeling discomfort in my lower back, as I was unable to really engage my core.
When I saw a surgeon (general surgeon/plastic surgeon), he confirmed my separation would only be fixed with surgery, and that I had a hernia as well, and so I opted to do the surgery while I had weeks of help from my husband who is off work until late July, and my parents and brothers in Oregon. If you too are considering the surgery, here's what to keep in mind for if/when you opt to do the surgery:
Do you want more kids? (If the answer is yes or maybe, then wait).
Are you breastfeeding? (It is recommended that you do the surgery only after stopping breastfeeding for at least 3 months).
Have you lost most or all your pregnancy weight? (If the answer is no, it's best to wait until you do).
Do you have 6 weeks of help at anytime you need it? (You won't be able to pick up your baby/babies for 6 weeks so you must have help. This is the hardest part!)
Is it possible for you to avoid stairs and driving for about 2 weeks? Can you take 2-3 weeks off work if need be?
How are you with pain/discomfort? The surgery recovery is more painful than a c-section recovery, and you'll likely have a big scar hip to hip. (Though if you have lingering back pain from pregnancy, the surgery will likely help relieve that).
Do you have the funds? Depending on if you need a full or partial abdominoplasty, it adds up and insurance will not cover it. (Though they may cover partial if you have hernia(s).
Those are the big questions you should consider. I'm about 2 weeks post-op from a limited (not a full, which is likely way more painful) abdominoplasty and hernia repair and I am already so glad I had the surgery even though the inability to pick up my twin babies and be active has been the most challenging things. The first week I relied on my husband to lift me in and out of bed and prepare my meals completely. The second week I was more mobile and carefully getting in and out of bed alone as well as preparing simple meals. I imagine it only gets better from here, though I'm going to have to ease into walking and movement very slowly, as my tendency is to do too much, too soon.
When I'm a little more healed and out of my sweet compression Spanx, I may show a photo. (Currently it's a little terrifying-looking). It's a pretty serious surgery, and I'm glad I did it, though I know it may not be for you! I highly recommend using surgery as a last option like I did; DR exercises and physical therapy should be your first attempts at healing diastasis recti. Many people just choose to live with it, but it's more than just a "mommy belly." Multiple hernias can occur with the ab separation and weakness as well as back pain and problems from the inability to use your core.
Anyway, as you can tell, I was eager to get back to the kitchen and my recipe creation, especially now that exercise is still off the table. Though now I have to be extra careful about sneaking bites of my delicious vegan gluten-free treats...
Chocolate Zucchini Carrot Cake
Yields 20 pieces
2 cups flour or gluten-free flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ coconut oil, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups raw zucchini, shredded
½ cup raw carrot, shredded
1-1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2-3 tablespoons water if needed
¼ cup nondairy butter, melter
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup coconut milk
2-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 350, line a 9X13” pan with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil.
2. Melt coconut oil and let cool slightly.
3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.
4. Whisk oil, sugar, vanilla together, then add the wet ingredients to the dry, folding zucchini and carrot in last. If mixture seems too dry, add water as needed.
5. Spread in the pan and bake for 25-30 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once cake has cooled, blend frosting ingredients and frost.