Do you have a noticeable mummy tummy that stands out? Do people often stop you to ask if you are pregnant when you really aren’t, and in fact, you had your baby months and even years ago? Well, you could have diastasis recti and not even know it!
Here’s my story of how I found out I had diastasis recti and what exactly this is:
After I had given birth to my fourth baby, I wasn’t in any rush to lose the weight I had gained during my pregnancy. I was a busy mom to four children and was breastfeeding, so for me, diet and exercise wasn’t on top of my priority list. I knew my pregnancy pounds would eventually melt off like they did with my previous postpartum days. However, I also knew that my situation was different this time around.
What was different this time around was that I was exclusively breastfeeding my baby and was hungry ALL THE TIME. While I ate healthy meals and snacks for the most part, I let myself indulge in sweets and didn’t feel guilty about it at all. My only exercise consisted of taking walks with my children and carrying around a very attached baby ALL DAY LONG.
Do note, some women lose weight faster while they are breastfeeding while other women tend to gain weight, I apparently fall into the latter category. This didn’t bother me at all though, for I knew that when I would stop breastfeeding, I would decrease in weight eventually. Plus, I loved having curves and wanted to keep them for as long as I could!
I ended up nursing my baby until he was 20 months old (this was the longest I have ever breastfed my babies for!) and soon after I started to notice a decrease in both my appetite and weight (I miss my curves!). Fast forward to a few months later, and that’s when I started to notice that my body looked different than usual…
Signs of DIASTASIS RECTI
I’m a naturally petite person who has always been thin, so losing weight has never been an issue for me (please don’t hate me). While I did lose the weight I had gained during pregnancy soon after I stopped breastfeeding, there was an issue: my stomach was still the same. In fact, my stomach looked big in comparison with the rest of my body, it was bulging out and I often looked like I was about 4-5 months pregnant. I never noticed this buldge while I was breastfeeding because my stomach was proportionate with my body then, but now, it was hard not to notice it! Another difference I had noticed was that my back was hurting more than usual, and it was getting painful to sit or stand during long periods of time.
What was going on? I didn’t recognize this body, and I was getting worried! Of course, I turned to my buddy Google for advice (Google, thank you!!!!) and search after search, the same term kept popping up: DIASTASIS RECTI.
What is DIASTASIS RECTI?
After reading about diastasis recti, I knew this was what I had. I know this term sounds a bit scary, so let me explain what this is:
Diastasis recti is when your rectus abdominis muscles in your abdomen separate (commonly caused by pregnancy), this separation leaves you with a gap that makes your stomach bulge out- hence, why some women may look pregnant!
I had not heard of this term before, and I had my first baby back in 2007- so, that says a lot! The fact is that many women don’t know what diastasis recti is and they don’t even know that they have diastasis recti. Most women think this bulge is normal after pregnancy because their mothers, sisters, or friends have it too and they too thought it was normal!
Getting help for my Diastasis Recti
Now that I knew what was going on with my postpartum body, my next step was to correct this and to get help! One of the first things I did was search up local postnatal exercise classes that could help me to close up or decrease the gap between my abdomen. The thing to remember with diastasis recti is that you cannot do certain exercises, such as crunches, for this will worsen the gap. So, finding a fitness instructor that is specialized in postnatal fitness is key. I must say that it was a bit of a challenge to find a fitness class nearby that would suit my needs (that also didn’t cost a fortune) and I was starting to give up until…I finally found exactly what I was looking for!
Just to be sure, I had sent an email to the program coordinator of the fitness programs to ask if the fitness instructors had knowledge of diastasis recti and if these classes would be suitable for me. The coordinator reassured me that I would be in good hands and that the instructors were indeed specialized in postnatal fitness including in the area of diastasis recti!
Postnatal Fitness Classes
The two fitness classes I signed up for were a postnatal Pilates class that focuses on pelvic floor exercises and the core, and a postnatal small group training class that focuses on building overall body strength, rebuilding the core, and helping your posture. Both of the instructors for each class talked about diastasis recti during the first class and checked each member of the class to see if we had this condition.
The other step I took was to visit a physical therapist. My physical therapist showed me a few exercises that would help to decrease the gap, and gave me some tips on how to further prevent the gap from widening.
It’s been about three weeks since I started going to physiotherapy and attending my exercise classes, and I can truly say that I have already felt a difference. My gap is slowly starting to decrease and my core is getting stronger. I’m happy with my results thus far, and I’m excited to see how I will feel at the end of this journey!
If you think you have diastasis recti, please do consult with your doctor. The main purpose of sharing my personal experience with diastasis recti is to create awareness and familiarize women with this term. If you found this blog post helpful, please do share it with others!