Marathon runners

Three years after the birth of her youngest son, Stephanie Bruce has accepted the fact that her stomach will never look the same as the other runners’.

As Health reports, the 36-year-old professional runner finished second at the California International Marathon in November and tenth at the 2017 New York City Marathon. But even pro athletes sometimes struggle with body image.

Bruce gave birth to two boys, born 15 months apart. On her blog, she wrote about how hard the two pregnancies were on her body:

My stomach grew very large and very out. My babies were also on the bigger side, eight and 9 lbs. So what did I do? After I gave birth to my first son Riley, I was a mess. I had a very aggressive delivery and a grade four tear with an episiotomoy. My first run was seven weeks postpartum and my uterus just about fell out of me during that three minute jog. The next run, I shit my pants.

Even as Bruce worked to get back into running shape, she was trying to deal with her new postpartum body. She wrote:

I didn’t know how to face the problems that my new body were now presenting me with: Incontinence, pain in my pelvis and lower back, prolapse, and lack of muscle coordination.

By the time her second son was born, Bruce found herself with another issue that wouldn’t go away – Diastasis recti (DR).

According to the National Institutes of Health, DR refers to a separation between the left and right sides of the rectus abdominus muscle, or the “abs” that cover your stomach. It can occur in pregnant women due to the strain on the abdominal wall. In extreme cases, the outline of the uterus and baby can be seen pressing against the abdominal wall during late pregnancy.

Bruce has been candid about her issues with DR. Seven weeks after her son’s birth, she posted a photo on Instagram demonstrating the split that left her able to, “stick three fingers in between my two ab walls.”

Able to work with high-level trainers and doctors, Bruce has spent three years trying to improve the condition of her abs. At the same time, she wants other women to know that this is something that should be shared and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of DR.

Last week, Bruce shared another photo of her stomach for every mom who is struggling with DR. She wrote:

This is as good as it will get for me. I still have a 1 finger gap, extra saggy skin, and stretch marks. But my core is also the strongest it’s ever been, and the proof has been no major injuries in my hips, glute, back, and core since giving birth.

At the same time, she added that “This is how I look, but not how I feel.” Bruce said that her core feels strong whenever she trains or races.

View this post on Instagram

For all you post partum moms who have reached out about my experience with DR, this one’s for you. This is my stomach 3 years post partum. This is as good as it will get for me. I still have a 1 finger gap, extra saggy skin, and stretch marks. But my core is also the strongest it’s ever been, and the proof has been no major injuries in my hips, glute, back, and core since giving birth. This is how I look, but not how I feel. When I’m training hard, lifting, sprinting at the end of races I feel the strongest core possible. It doesn’t look the same as the women I race against who haven’t given birth, but who gives a crap. It took me a while to be comfortable in my own skin, but every time I run in a sports bra, wear crop top shirts I grow a little more confident in my post partum body. I wrote about my experience with Diastasis Recti and the steps I took to get from peeing my pants constantly, pain in my pelvis to years later crushing it. Read on, hope it helps, link in my bio?? #diastasisrecti #journeywithsteph

A post shared by Stephanie Rothstein Bruce (@stephrothstein) on

She wrote, “It doesn’t look the same as the women I race against who haven’t given birth, but who gives a crap?”

Bruce’s openness about DR has been an inspiration to other women struggling with a separated, saggy stomach. In response to Bruce’s Instagram post, one commenter wrote:

This is an awesome post. I’m a year and five months post C-section and training for a marathon that’s in two weeks. I still have this no matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do. This totally empowers me and made me feel awesome. Thanks so much for posting this.

Another commenter said thanked Bruce, saying, “I have had the toughest time coming to terms with my body in its post-childbearing state. These types of posts are so encouraging!”

Bruce admits that it took time to come to terms with her postpartum stomach, but she is finally there. She wrote:

“It took me a while to be comfortable in my own skin, but every time I run in a sports bra, wear crop top shirts I grow a little more confident in my postpartum body.”

Leave a comment

6 Replies to “Marathoner Shares Photo of Separated Abs 3 Years Postpartum: ‘This Is as Good as It Will Get for Me’”

  • George 2 years ago

    gross

  • Bunny Heppner 2 years ago

    No one’s making you show it

  • Masterredfox 2 years ago

    My comment goes to the doctors who know that this occurs with most pregnant women and offer no postpartum solutions to elevate conditions. No woman should have to deal with this preventable conditions just because they gave birth. It should be a necessary part of postpartum treatment. All of us should be able to get our bodies back into pre-pregnant shape if given the right medical treatment after giving birth.( not just the celebrities) As for the woman described in this article no one should be criticizing her for accepting her body as is. If you don’t like it because it isn’t perfect—tough on you—keep your comments to yourself.

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      I agree, the average gap post labour is 3 finger gap that is supposed to reduce quickly with the right rest and physio. I had gap the width of a hand and was kept in hospital for a week and recovered quickly with good rest and light physio, by time I was released it had narrowed to a 1-2 finger gap and I was advised to continue rest and light activity and to let abs come back into place and not to overdo it until I had healed.
      I was told that if I did too much my abs would tense and would redevelop incorrectly.
      I think it is sad that women are not given correct care and this is preventable.
      I have no stretched skin and no gap anymore and no stretch marks and am so so so so grateful for the 3–4 checks a day I had by nurses closely watching the improvement of my condition.
      I also thank my little girl for being so damn cute, they said they were more than happy to check on me and get more peeks at my tiny cute little bundle.If this happens to you after labour you should be kept in hospital a bit longer than usual until the condition improves and is almost back to normal.

  • robert ALDRICH 2 years ago

    I suspect that if some women weren’t so fixated on having six pack abs they wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. Men and women both have become psychotic about their looks and their bodies. For tens of thousands of years human beings did not work out. their bodies were kept in shape by tilling the land and working with their hands. Now we are an animal who’s lost their place in the natural world and because of the sin of vanity we persist in these idiotic behaviors! I have very little respect for those who go to spas and gyms to bulk up. You are not doing your bodies any favors! In fact quite the opposite! Sports are only for fun, not for obsession, vanity or power! God, please cull the herd and take us back to the cave where man was one with nature and treated other animals with care and dignity!

  • Brendan Hayes, M.D. 2 years ago

    Strong work!

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