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A Mom's Story: Recovering From Diastasis Recti


Hang on, what is that bulge in my stomach? I thought to myself one night when I lifted my head while lying next to my 3 year-old-daughter as part of our normal bedtime routine. Of course, my belly was big - I was 7 months pregnant with #2. But this was different. I relaxed my head back down, and lifted one more time. There it went again. It looked like my still growing baby was a cone-shaped bulge in my belly – with a peak – like a hill peak vs. a mountain peak. To humor myself, I did it again of course.

Too tired to search the internet for possible explanations – I used my excellent reasoning skills to give me reassurance: I am a smaller person; I gained 50+ pounds with my daughter; she was an unplanned c-section. My abdominal muscles must not be strong enough to hold this baby from protruding my midline when I do a crunch-like motion. It will go back into place after he’s born, I told myself. And I am doing a really good job of moderating the weight gain this go around! I’m really good at self-reasoning. ​


Two months later I had my baby boy, he was beautiful, average weight, long! Everything was wonderful – with the exceptional challenge of how do I do this again? My parents were here to stay this time. The help wasn’t disappearing after a month of bliss like with my daughter. I followed the 40-day postpartum ayurvedic tradition. I received through The Birthing Tree. Within two weeks I had lost most of the pregnancy weight. Everything about this go around was different!

One year postpartum, I started to wonder why I could still see a small mound protruding along the length of my midline when I would do crunches or certain common abdominal exercises. But when I saw a very slight, small round bulge protruding from my belly button, I decided it was time to see my doctor.

I was diagnosed with what is called, Diastisis Recti, a fairly common condition of pregnancy and postpartum in which the right and left halves of the Rectus Abdominis muscle (abdominal muscles) spread apart at the body’s midline fascia. Be-Fit Mom explains the details: Widening and thinning of the mid line tissue occurs in response the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, in conjunction with pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue. A mid line of more than 2 to 2.5 finger-widths, or 2 centimeters, is considered problematic. Diastasis recti can occur anytime in the last half of pregnancy but is most commonly seen after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is lax and the thinner mid line tissue no longer provides adequate support for the torso and internal organs.



What did this mean for me? Should I not be doing crunches? Will I ever close that gap in my abdominal muscles? How will this affect another possible pregnancy (I know I’m done now, but that might change when I forget how challenged I am at this moment)? I was determined to do what I could to bring that gap back to 2.5 finger widths without having to cut a huge space of time out of my already demanding life.

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Here are my three steps to success:

1.) I worked with my brother-in-law who luckily is a personal trainer to create an abdominal exercise plan that will not strain the diastisis recti and I can do in the house. (A tip: alternate leg lifts while laying face up on the ground instead of crunches).

2) My OB told me “awareness is key”; I should always engage the abdominal muscles when lifting my kiddos.

3) Self-commitment is the only way to close the gap! I became dedicated to carving out time to strengthen my pelvic floor (i.e. I increased from 30 squats to 60 since my second was born).

Looking back - I wish I had only been more careful in my movements during pregnancy, specifically when lifting myself up from laying down.

There are wonderful sources available online, like Be-Fit Mom with tips for self-diagnosis, movements to avoid, and exercises to lessen the separation of those muscles. You can also consult your personal trainer, or yoga instructor, by referencing Diastisis Recti.

Do I wish I knew this before? Yes. Do I resent not knowing? A little. I’m not a person who get’s stuck on the “should haves” of life. I do appreciate words of wisdom from loved ones who have experienced similar things. And what I always take away from those words is: Listen to yourself, to your intuition, and to your body.


SOME GREAT REFERENCES

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