Ever wondered how a mom of 12 (yes, TWELVE! Awesome, right!?) heals a diastasis recti and recovers after bringing so many gorgeous humans into the world, all while juggling the crazy day to day mission of raising kids from babies to late teens? Well, MUTU Mama Jennie shares her diastasis recti healing journey with us and boy were we intrigued to find out more about her family.
My husband and I knew we wanted a big family from the start. I grew up reading Cheaper by the Dozen, a book about an incredible family with 12 children and two amazing parents and said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do; raise fantastic human beings and enjoy them!’ 22 years later (and one set of twins), we have our dozen, and we feel incredibly blessed. All of our children are unique and wonderful individuals, and we love seeing them grow into their own gifts and skills and work to make the world a more beautiful place. We’ve lived in Africa (Kenya, then South Africa) since 2011 due to my husband’s work with a humanitarian organization that does medical, clean water, and educational projects in war-torn areas. We also have an educational foundation in South Africa to provide disadvantaged kids with hands-on learning opportunities. Hands down, though, my favorite job is the one I get up and do every day: homeschooling and working on creative projects with my children.
“I’d kind of resigned myself to using shapewear or belly bands to keep everything held in place”
Baby 11 was about 10 months old in 2015 when I started searching for better ways to close my DR. I’ve always had fantastic midwives who put a lot of focus on postpartum recovery, keeping the pelvic floor strong, etc., but after the birth of my twins in 2006, I’d never managed to get the DR completely closed, and the information I found on how to do it was contradictory and frustrating. I’d kind of resigned myself to using shapewear or belly bands to keep everything held in place, but I knew that surely couldn’t be the answer long-term.
“I was missing a piece of the puzzle when it came to getting myself on the right Diastasis recti – closing track”
I had that “mummy tummy” that just wouldn’t go away in spite of clean eating and lots of exercise. I’d gotten my DR down to about two fingers but couldn’t get it closed up any further and started to wonder if perhaps it was just going to be that way for the rest of my life. A lot of well-meaning older women told me that you can’t get rid of the tummy after age 40 without surgery (!), and several told me that it’s actually after 35 that everything goes downhill. I couldn’t accept that, because I know how amazing our bodies are and how they are designed to heal themselves and function optimally if we support them with good nutrition and exercise. But I was missing a piece of the puzzle when it came to getting myself on the right DR-closing track and wasn’t sure where to get correct information.
At the urging of a friend here, I’d gotten back into regular exercise by joining a spin class at the gym and even taking up Taebo. I knew I shouldn’t do crunches or planks and explained that to my instructor, but I still didn’t get any guidance on how to close my abdominal gap. I felt frustrated and kept searching online for answers and finding lots of contradictory information. There were times I was tempted to think, “I guess I am just too old to get back in shape.” (I was 43 at the time.)
“I knew I had found what I needed to get my core back into shape”
While running yet another search for information on healing diastasis recti, I stumbled across Wendy’s introductory video, and I knew at once that I’d found my missing puzzle piece! I eagerly read every single thing on the website and watched all the videos, nodding my head and thinking, ‘THIS IS IT!’ I signed up for the membership and immediately downloaded the first few videos in the exercise program. What I read in Wendy’s articles confirmed all the things my midwives had told me for years about eating clean and green, avoiding processed foods and sugar, and staying active. As I started the exercises that targeted my weak areas, I knew I had found what I needed to get my core back into shape. There were definitely days I didn’t feel like doing the exercises – life with a nursing baby means that squeezing in any extra activity is a challenge – but as I saw that tummy disappear, I felt fantastic and knew this was going to be a new lifestyle for me. By the time I was ready to get moving after the birth of my last baby in 2017, I got the news that Wendy had revamped the program, and I jumped right into it as soon as the new videos were available.
“MUTU is all about working with our amazing bodies to help them do what they are supposed to do”
It’s hard to pick just one part of the program, but I have to say the exercises are the game-changer because so much careful thought has been put into targeting exactly what pregnancy stretches out of shape and guiding it back where it needs to be. Unfortunately, a lot of the “get your body back” information out there is inaccurate and can end up damaging what we need to repair. MUTU is all about working with our amazing bodies to help them do what they are supposed to do and support the healing process through good posture and focused exercises. The workouts are not too long to fit into a busy day, and many can be done with the children (I did a lot of mine with my baby and toddler on the floor beside me!). I also love the fact that Wendy moves you past the core repair and on to overall toning and strengthening so you can get your entire body in shape and feel good. My energy levels are through the roof now, and I don’t have the aches and pains I did in my joints four years ago.
“I’ve lost 10kgs and two dress sizes in 3.5 months. My DR is completely closed, and I feel incredible”
I’ve lost 10kgs and two dress sizes in 3.5 months. My DR is completely closed, and I feel incredible. In fact, I feel fitter now than I did ten years ago. So I’m here to tell you that the age myth is just that-a big fairy tale. It’s never too late to heal the “mummy tummy” and get back into shape. You can do it if you’re 46 or 26. I have more energy and sleep better, and I feel confident that I can move into my 50s while keeping fit and staying active.
True story: I bought my oldest daughter a summer dress for her birthday last year. She never wore it and finally told me it just wasn’t her colour. When I gave it to her originally, I never imagined I could ever wear it. It was two sizes too small for me, so I just put it away and figured I’d save it for the next daughter when she got older. Lo and behold, on a whim last month, I decided to try it on. It fit perfectly and is cute as can be! That’s definitely not something I ever expected-wearing a dress that fits my teenage daughter!
“I did use MUTU Connect and I think it’s an excellent forum”
I did use MUTU Connect and I think it’s an excellent forum. If you have any questions about how to use the program, you’ll get a quick response, and there’s so much encouragement from other moms in the community as well. I think we women thrive when we encourage and build up one another. We need each other, and MUTU is a safe place to come together and talk without feeling embarrassed.
I don’t know about other women, but I am much more motivated when I have others cheering me on and keeping me accountable. My husband has been a huge cheerleader for me, but there’s something special about having fellow moms provide a word of encouragement. We grow stronger when we help one another.
“MUTU has provided me with a huge missing puzzle piece that I needed to complete my healing and get back to full strength”
MUTU has provided me with a huge missing puzzle piece that I needed to complete my healing and get back to full strength. It has helped me to slow down and breathe at key moments as well. Wendy’s optimistic videos helped me keep my eyes on the prize, even when it felt like I’d hit a plateau and wasn’t really seeing any progress. Little by little, I got there, and that’s the real key: little by little, step by step. This isn’t about finding a magic pill or a quick solution. It’s about working with our bodies to help them do what they are fully capable of doing after nine months of carrying a new human being. I am so delighted with the changes I’ve seen that I tell all expectant moms about Mutu and encourage them to join up. It is worth every penny. My kids are definitely enjoying a more energetic mom, and my husband is proud of me for sticking to my goal and proving that age doesn’t matter and plastic surgery isn’t a necessity! (And bye-bye to shapewear, too I gave it all away!)
Learn more about MUTU System right here. Get your body confidence back, feel more like you again and reach your postpartum goals!
TOP TIP FROM A MOM OF 12
The best advice I got when I was pregnant with my first was to rest when my newborn was resting rather than running around trying to do stuff. This is so important. Whether you take a nap or just put your feet up and have a cup of tea, it really does restore a sense of equilibrium. As my firstborn grew into toddlerhood, my mom told me to have a set quiet time each day, whether he needed a nap or not. So for two hours each afternoon, I’d put the little guy down in his crib with the curtains drawn and soft music playing. When he was older and didn’t need as much sleep, he’d have a pile of books he could look at or a special box of toys that was kept aside only for quiet time. This gave me a window of time to focus on things I needed to do, from checking emails or sewing to reading or resting myself. Having this pause in the day is hugely beneficial for kids (and moms!) in our hurry-hurry world. Put your cell phone on silent and set it out of sight. Slow down and do something that forces you to focus and quiet down yourself. Even today with all my children, we still have quiet time. Often (like right this minute) there’s a little person curled up asleep next to me on the couch while I write or think. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s just a time to slow down and focus, and it helps us all stay sane!