I had heard about morning sickness and heartburn. About the pain associated with breastfeeding. About stretch marks and the c-section pouch, even la linea nigra. But not once did anyone mention a medical condition called diastisis recti. And I’m pissed that nobody told me.
About a month after my first pregnancy, I was staring in the mirror when I noticed that I still looked pregnant. Sure, I had gained weight and was more pleasantly plump than usual, but the bulge in my stomach seemed like another issue. Like any modern person would do, I took my concern to the all knowing Google. I searched “still look pregnant” and a slew of information about a medical condition called diastisis recti showed up. Apparently it was possible for the abdomen to permanently separate, allowing your internal organs to bulge outward causing the perpetual appearance of being pregnant.
How did this happen to me? My physical fitness had been a priority for some time. In fact, I regularly engaged in prenatal exercise throughout my first pregnancy, particularly swimming and yoga. Well, apparently these two forms of exercise can exacerbate the abdominal separation because of the stretching of the core muscles involved. To this day, I am unsure whether this particular exercise path made my problem worse or created it.
This is when I got really angry. No one had told me about this. It wasn’t covered in the books I read. No mention of it in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”. The doctor never brought it up. No one checked for it in my follow-up appointments. I discovered it and diagnosed it on my own. How’s that for WonderMomming?
When I approached my new doctor about it, she confirmed my diagnosis and was flippant in her response. “Just have a tummy tuck,” she said. “All my patients do.” A lot of online information pointed toward the same assessment. My only chance of appearing “not pregnant” was to get a tummy tuck. It was difficult to reverse otherwise.
Then, a glimmer of hope. I came across a woman named Julie Tuppler, a physical therapist who dedicates her practice to treating diastasis. The Tuppler technique is a non-surgical path to healing. Some anecdotal evidence suggested it may be worth exploring. I found a local physical therapist who employs the technique and made an appointment.
And so began my journey to battle diastasis recti the natural way. I would have to wear a brace all the time (even when I slept). I had to start a fitness program that avoids exercises deemed harmful by my physical therapist. I had to be mindful about the way I engaged my abdominal muscles all day and was given specific instructions about how to get in and out of bed.
I started for about a week.
Then I quit.
Yes, sometimes Wonder Mommies give up.
I decided that the pressure I was under and the physical demands of breastfeeding were too cumbersome to add a rigorous and disciplined routine to my life. Instead, I sometimes wear the brace and do the exercises when I find spare time.
I know I stand a better chance of reversing the effects of the diastasis the sooner I engage the routine after my pregnancy. Still, I have to manage what I can handle. A mom has to take care of her own phsyical, yes, but also mental and emotional health so that she can be there for her kids. I plan to ease into more of the Tuppler Technique slowly, and when I am ready.
The moral of the story: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You just created and gave birth to a human. Revel in that.
Are you a Wonder Mommy looking for more time to revel? Subscribe to Mommy Hacks today, a monthly subscription box service designed with my fellow Wonder Moms in mind. I’ve got your back (and your potentially diastastic front, womp womp).
Jamie Parganos started the Wonder Mommy blog to create a community for moms to share their stories and support one another. She is also CEO and Founder of Mommy Hacks, a subscription box service designed to help you win at parenting. Before founding her companies, she worked as a program director in the New York City public school system. A mom who wears many hats, Jamie is also a professional singer. She lives in NYC with her partner and two children, ages 3 and 6 months.