Every so often my guilty pleasures really pay off. Remember when I admitted to watching the Kardashians more often than is healthy for a grown woman? Well this time it’s thanks to the flashy, surgery-tastic, drama-fest that is The Real Housewives of Cheshire that I have experienced a moment of enlightenment.
I’m not getting lip fillers or a boob job or a footballer as a husband.
But I have discovered that I still have a diastasis recti over six years after giving birth to my last baby. Thanks to a conversation between the Cheshire housewives, I was spurred into Googling diastasis recti, recalling that when I was pregnant with The Boy my abdominal muscles separated to a width of about 4.5cm, and they were still separated when he was a few months old. At the time I assumed that this was completely normal and the muscles would just heal themselves one day.
Well they haven’t.
And having read about this condition, it is possible that it’s the cause of some other issues too. My GP diagnosed a prolapsed uterus a couple of years ago, when I went for advice about my periods becoming extremely heavy and extremely painful (this turned out to be fibroids – I’ll do a post about that in the future), but she didn’t mention diastasis recti being a possible cause. Having read about it though, the weakened abdominal muscles can also mean a weakened pelvic floor, which can lead to prolapse (of uterus and/or bladder), urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence and flatulence. Symptoms of diastasis recti also include low back pain, pelvic pain during sex, and a protruding tummy. I’ll pop links to the sites that I’ve gained all this information from at the bottom of this post.
Knowing that there is a reason for many of the uncomfortable and rather embarrassing symptoms I have experienced for years, other than just the fact that I was previously a petite size 6-8 and then I grew and birthed two pretty large babies, both over 9 pounds, which basically knackered my body inside and out, and for the fact that none of my pre-pregnancy trousers fit me any more despite being able to get into tops I’ve had since my early twenties, is somewhat of a relief. But it has also been the cause of more upset (I had a little weep today over my broken body and my broken brain) as there is not much information about it around, and some of the information is contradictory. The sites I have found talk about the basics, but the information is not vast and its not always free. Many of them proffer advice on how to avoid it happening during pregnancy, possible signs and symptoms and what exercises to avoid immediately postpartum, none of which is helpful to me at this point, and then they encourage you to pay money to sign up for exercise regimes designed to treat and heal the separated muscles. One or two sites that have provided helpful exercises for free, have mentioned certain yoga positions being very beneficial, and everyone says to avoid doing sit-ups and tummy crunches.
I don’t (can’t) do sit-ups or tummy crunches, and I have been doing yoga for years. And the separation is still 4.5cm at it’s widest just above my tummy button, narrowing to almost 3cm at the very top of the transverse abdominals. Whatever I’ve been doing certainly hasn’t been helping. I take yoga and ballet classes every week, I assumed they were keeping my body healthy along with my mind and the need to practice self-care. But maybe not, maybe some exercises in those classes have made things worse?
I am unsure of what to do next. Visit the GP for a physio referral? Pay for an exercise regime from one of the sites designed to heal diastasis recti? Do the only couple of exercises recommended for free every day and see if it makes a difference? What do you, dear readers, think? Do any of you have any experience of diastasis recti? If so, what worked for you? Do you have any recommendations? I’d really love to hear from you.
Sites that may be useful if you are looking for further information about diastasis recti: