Stephanie Bruce, 32, is an Olympic-hopeful athlete, World Cross Country runner and the mother of two babies. She had two children within only 15 months-her oldest is 21 months and the youngest is 6 months old. The photos she posts on her Instagram account are going viral because they unapologetically show the unglamorous reality of postpartum that other mothers also face.
During pregnancy, Bruce developed diastasis recti, or abdominal separation. This occurs when the abdominal muscles separate to give the baby more space, forming a cavity in the middle of the belly. Diastasis recti happens to about two-thirds of women, making it hard to snap back to a pre-pregnancy body.
As an Olympic-hopeful athlete, Bruce is an active women to say the least. Her abdomen was well-toned, but all this changed following her pregnancies. She made a point of showing all her bodily changes to her Instagram followers.
"It was really hard physically on my body and mentally, and as I was going through some things trying to get back into training, I was like, 'Does this happen to all women?' No one told me all of this," said Bruce in an interview with People magazine.
She explained to People that she had a hard time running at the athletic level she was at before having children, but gradually she improved and reached her goal.
After pregnancy, she also had intestinal incontinence. "I was having a lot of bathroom issues, I couldn't control peeing," Bruce said. "So I was going to the bathroom on a run."
So, the athlete decided to share her recovery to inspire other mothers who are experiencing difficulty in accepting their postpartum bodies.
"It's been amazing to see the feedback from women," Bruce said. "I don't think I'm that inspiring, but a lot of women kind of felt like it is, and I just hope that other women feel that confidence, and post their baby bodies, and don't feel ashamed. These issues happen to all of us so I just hoped I could get the conversation going."
This article has been adapted and translated from the original "Atleta engravida duas vezes em curto período de tempo e percebe algo estranho na sua barriga" which was originally published on familia.com.br.