Diastasis recti AKA one of the most common (and most dreaded) side effects of pregnancy, is the separation of muscles along the midline of the abdomen. This nearly inevitable postpartum abdominal injury impacts a woman’s quality of life in various ways, ranging from urinary stress incontinence, pelvic prolapse, and low back pain. Not to mention the long term mental-impact and altered physique, the combination of which has the potential to significantly impact a woman’s sense of self.
While facing this ailment, women tend to feel that there are no good options to address their ongoing physical discomfort and it’s not uncommon for mothers to turn to surgical intervention, like tummy tucks. Enter Every Mother, the carefully designed fitness program founded by our very own postpartum fitness fairy godmother, Leah Keller.
Leah–once a full-time painter, sculptor and private fitness trainer (yep, she’s that cool)–isn’t messing around when it comes to postpartum health. Inspired by her roles as personal trainer and mama, Leah deep-dived into pre and post-natal fitness to tackle the all too discouraging statistics surrounding diastasis recti recovery. Her fitness method has been proven by multiple research studies to close the abdominal gap in just 12 weeks, so it’s not surprising to learn her program has gone totally viral.
We sat down to find out what it feels like to create a method that literally changes the way a woman experiences the world.
Sometimes The Right Opportunity Finds You
It all started with one simple idea. Leah decided to take a one weekend workshop in pregnancy fitness to become a certified specialist. This experience would ultimately take her on a new and unexpected path.
She explained, “I learned that abdominal separation happens, but that you can kind of prevent it. You can potentially reverse it. And then I started doing my own research. I dove deep into physical therapy journals from the 1970s published in Australia.” The workshop changed how she worked with clients, both on deep core work and core stabilization. She learned how the same moves, depending on how you control your breathing and pelvic floor, could either lead to strength or injury.
The research led her to create a specific fitness program for women that would help to not only educate them on safe ways to build core strength, but also help them prevent diastasis recti in the first place.
The fact is, surgery is not the only option – and Leah is dead set on making that clear. “I feel every woman deserves access to this information and they deserve to know how to optimize pregnancy and birth.”
The Emotional Waves of Motherhood
As mom of an almost six-year-old, Leah’s definitely not new to the mom squad. She recently restarted the cycle with the birth of her second child in late 2018. When we asked her the one word she’d use to summarize her most recent first year postpartum, she responded, “Overflowing. Big love, big emotions, big gratitude, big anxieties, big needs. Rooms are full, hearts are full, days are full, nights are full. It’s nonstop. But I know this pace and this sweet dependence of my babies is fleeting, so I cherish it even though I often wish I could press pause long enough to catch my breath.”
Finding the space to cherish her relationships is important to Leah. When discussing how she and her husband navigate her never-ending business owner’s list of to do’s, she confessed, that it was hard. “I think it has to be a constant conversation between you and your partner about how to make it work. You have to talk about what they need and what you need and how can you support each other. How you can support your kids.”
Spending time together doesn’t always have to be a conventional date night. As her husband traveled home from work on a recent weeknight, they used the miles on the odometer to work quality time into their relationship over the phone. “I did all those things that are really hard to squeeze in while we talked about each other’s days and priorities over the next week. It reminded me of when we used to date. We’d have these long conversations late at night that were sweet. We were just trying to share our lives. Now we live together, and we should share daily, but sometimes the conversation doesn’t happen until you make it a priority.”
On Finding Balance
Running your own business and being a mom of two kids ages six and under isn’t without its challenges. She explains, “You’re always falling out of balance in one way or another. This afternoon might be out of balance in one direction and then the morning might be out of balance in the other direction. You’re always prioritizing.”
A self-professed perfectionist, Leah admits imperfection is one of the hardest parts for her of motherhood.“I feel like I’m always dropping at least one ball. I want to be fully present to each of my family members and meet all of their needs, but that is impossible. Letting go of that is difficult, but I also realize I need to be gracious with myself and simply do my best not to judge other moms or myself. Because balance is going to look a little different for each person.”
Leah understands all the layers to the experience of motherhood. It’s why Every Mother is more than a fitness program. With the valuable community component of Every Mother and the science-based approach to postpartum fitness, Leah’s building a strong supportive network for her clients to find balance and comfort in their universal, yet super personal, journey of becoming a mom.