Saturday, May 3, 2014

The long road to closure...of my Diastasis Recti part 1

Let me just say that I have beautiful babies. I am admittedly biased and completely o.k with that, but those babes were gorgeous. And they caused a world of wreckage on my body.

I carried my kids large and in charge, straight out.

 The day before I had Jack.

 The day I had Colin.

The day I had Macy.

Before I had babies, my stomach was not my "trouble" spot. I was more of a pear shaped and did not have to work very hard to have a flat stomach. When I had my 2 weeks c-section check-up after my first baby, I asked about all the excess skin I had and asked when it would go back to normal. I was told it would not, and to start saving for a tummy tuck. While a bit harsh, she was right. I was stretched beyond capacity. My once flat tummy was replaced by a dropping, puckered stomach that resembled a 95 year old.

At my 6 week check up, I was briefly checked for an abdominal separation that is called Diastasis Recti. I was told that I had one and that I just needed to do some crunches to close it up. I found an article in a Pregnancy magazine that talked about "corseting" up my Transverse Abs to help bring my abs back together. I tried it for a few weeks, but the mass amounts of soft flesh quickly discouraged me. I worked out, but I still had a pooch on my belly that was above my belly button. I had to learn how to dress a whole new body. Drapey, loose shirts became my best friend.

When I became pregnant with my second, I wanted to keep working out. I was told to keep up what I was doing, but to not worry about doing an ab work, since it wouldn't make a difference. I skipped most ab parts and worked out for most of my pregnancy.

After I had Colin, I was once again told that I had a pretty big abdominal separation and was given a name of a postpartum yoga instructor and told to not work out for at least 6 months, otherwise I could rupture my abs and get a hernia.

I waited the 6 months and wanted to do something gentle on my body, so I started with Pilates and yoga.  I did find a post baby "bounce back" video that was suppose to help repair my DR. I did it for a few weeks and than moved on. 

A year later, I noticed a lump that came out when I would bend backwards while doing yoga. It started to hurt and I had it checked. I had a hernia. We wanted to have another baby, so it was advised that I have surgery to fix it, so that it would not become strangulated while pregnant. I had an open ventral hernia repair from a rip in my abdominal wall.

While I was down 8 lbs from when I had Jack, I still looked pregnant. My body was getting stronger, but I had a pooch on the top of my belly button. I still wore loose tops and rarely belted anything. It was frustrating.

I began to research Diastasis Recti and abdominal separation while I was still pregnant with Macy. I was so frustrated with all the horrible advice I was given. I believe that I had a DR with Jack that never really healed through the rest of my pregnancies.

After I had Macy, I once again, had an abdominal separation. I was told to hold off exercise till it had gone down and was given a hand out on how to work with my transverse abdominal muscles. In the paper, it explained how certain yoga poses (downward dog and sun salutations) and crunches actually hurt the stomach and caused it to separate more. All the work I had done after Colin that I thought would protect me from a hernia actual was helping cause it. 

I was nervous and wanted to make sure that I would/could do it. I wanted to close my separation and be able to work out and not have surgery again. After reading countless stories about different programs on diastastis recti and how to close it, I chose to start the Tupler Technique.

It is a pretty intense program that works only with your stomach and nothing else. It is simple to follow, but you have to wear a splint 24/7 for as many weeks as it takes to heal your DR, so anywhere from 6-18 weeks. The brace is taken off only to shower or wash it. It  coincides with gentle ab exercises.

When I checked myself (and everyone, especially mothers, should check themselves) I had a pretty severe separation. Measuring from right below your rib cage as the top, at your belly button for the middle section and above your pelvic bone for the bottom.

They have you measure the width and the depth of your separation by fingertips. 
I measured:
2 1/2 fingertips at the top
4 1/2-5 fingers at the middle
3 fingers at the bottom.
 The depth, which is the connective tissue, was very deep, going 2 inches down.


So, I ordered the splint, learned the exercises and got to work.

I will explain more in the next post about the thoughts on the program and how I have started to work out again with an online workout program that has specific 'Tummy Safe' exercises in part 2. ( I LOVE  Fit2be exercises and you can find out about it here. )

BUT, I am around 16 weeks into my rehab and I have closed the top section of my separation, I am down to a 2 finger opening at the middle and have almost closed the bottom! There is hope!

 I have lost almost 4 inches around my belly, and that is simply muscles coming back together. It has nothing to do with the very minimal weight loss that I have had. I no longer have the bulging abs over my belly button and everything has started to flatten out, for the first time since I had Jack almost 6 years ago.

In the second part I will explain more about the the splint and my love/hate relationship with it, how I am working out with Fit2be and why and where I go from here.

Do you have any advice on closing your abdominal separation? Have questions? I will try my best to answer in the comments or at least direct you to a website, since I am no expert.

No comments: