When I became pregnant with Eli, I was over the moon, as is expected of any mom discovering she is pregnant with her firstborn. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect; I read books, spoke with my mom, siblings, friends, and so on, but each experience is unique, so basically, it is just something you must go through. Diastasis Recti was the furthest thing from my mind.
As with the others, my pregnancy with Eli was “normal.” I had lots of pelvic pain that required me to wear a pelvic belt, but thankfully, there was no morning sickness. My last day of work with Eli was the day before he was born. His delivery went well. I had the joys of experiencing contractions, and that is a whole different ball game. I remember wanting to try delivery sans epidural, but when the fiery pain started to run through my body, I had to change my mind.
My thought process was my mom did this five times; I could certainly do it. Yea that did not happen. Every pang of pain was felt by both myself and my hubby lol, poor guy was so sick, he was throwing up. Anyway, my mom told me I did not have to be a hero, just take the juice and I did. The doctor that administered the epidural was amazing, and after a few minutes, I was completely numb. Within a few hours, Master Eli Archer was with us.
My PostPartum Body
I never really researched the whole story about pregnancy and the aftereffects that I could expect on my body. I knew that yes, I might gain some weight, may have pelvic pain, varicose veins, back pain, but what about this muffin top that just lingered. Some women have the unique ability to snap back; it is like you see them extremely pregnant one day, and the next day, they are back to what they were before having the baby. I was very naïve where that was concerned. I thought I was 120lbs before I got pregnant, I was in great shape, and even though I went up to about 180lbs when I was pregnant with Eli, I thought I would have that “snap back.”
Anyway, that was not the case, months were passing by, and there was no change; in fact, I looked pregnant still. I started exercising, and though I was losing weight, I was not losing my yummy tummy. Most people said I would never go back to what I used to be, and I could not accept that.
When I Found Out I Had Diastasis Recti
Shortly after, I was pregnant with Anayah, and after having her, I started exercising and got the same results, the weight was gone, but my belly did not budge. After having the twins, I made a conscious effort to deal with my tummy. I joined a gym, and one day after classes, one of the members came up to me and mentioned that I might have diastasis recti. I had never heard of it before; she told me she had it and advised me what she did to address it. After speaking with her, I felt a little hope since her tummy was amazingly flat. Apparently, when I was exercising, I was hurting myself by doing crunches, sit-ups, and planks; those exercises only made the situation worse.
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR) is the separation of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), it is common during pregnancy; it occurs because as the uterus grows to accommodate your baby, the stomach muscles start to stretch. That stretching can lead to complete or partial separation of the abdominal muscles. I was the lucky recipient of complete separation and as a result I suffer severe bloating which translates to me looking about four months with child.
Self-test for Diastasis Recti
You can determine if you have DR by performing a self-test.
- Lie on your back
- Bend your knees
- Raise your shoulders up slightly off the floor, look down at your belly
- Move your hand up and down your midline ab muscles, see if your fingers can fit in the gaps between your muscles
- The number of fingers that can fit in that gap determines the severity of your DR
Image showing how self test can be done
Image showing what the tummy looks like when you have DR
Diastasis Recti Can Affect Women, Men, and Children
When I lie on my back, my entire stomach collapses into my back. So, it’s safe to say I have it badly. I guess it started with Eli, and since having him and not knowing I even had DR, my condition got progressively worse during each pregnancy. DR isn’t just limited to pregnant women; it can result in babies, luckily it corrects itself. It can also result in men. DR can weaken your core, and as a result, you may need to wear a band for your tummy. I wear a waist trainer for support and to be able to wear clothing without the bulge. I managed to find a slew of information and exercises online, and I have recently started implementing them into my exercise routine. I plan to visit a pelvic floor specialist to get some professional help on strengthening my core and recovering from this situation.
I could have done things differently; had I been equipped with the knowledge I have now, but that ship has sailed and all I can do now is look ahead and repair what I can. It is embarrassing to be constantly asked if I am expecting or why do I still have a tummy, but I guess it goes with the territory. I do not get angry anymore, I just take the time to educate people on what I am experiencing, and I just remind myself of what it is that brought me here – 4 beautiful little beings.