Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Diastasis Recti

When I was out running with the mum's running club last Thursday night I was chatting with one of my friends (also an American living in the UK) and she asked me 'What actually  is Diastasis Recti?'

Good question! I have mentioned on the blog previously that after the birth of my second son, Dylan, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Diastasis Recti. Which is:

a disorder defined as a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle into right and left halves. Normally, the two sides of the muscle are joined at the linea alba at the body midline. It is essentially a cosmetic condition, with no associated morbidity or mortality.

  • Women are more susceptible to develop diastasis recti when over the age of 35, high birth weight of child, multiple birth pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies. Additional causes can be attributed to excessive abdominal exercises during the first trimester of pregnancy. (from Wikipedia)

Strangely, the main causes listed did not apply to me. I wasn't older than 35 at either of my boys' births, both boys weighed in the low 7lb range, I didn't have multiples, I wasn't exercising my abs at all besides some light yoga before my sons' births... but it was after my second birth that I realized I had it.

According to my doctor, there really isn't much that can be done to correct it aside from having surgery which is basically a tummy tuck. However, because that is considered a cosmetic procedure it is not covered on the National Health Service over here and is only performed when the woman is 100% certain that she will not have any more children.
Note: If you search Diastasis Recti online, you will find lots of 'systems' that are supposed to help reduce the separation of the abdominals but I can not comment on any of these as I have not tried them.
I didn't investigate the surgical procedure to correct my Diastasis Recti much further either, as at this time, it really is not for me- for the following reasons: I may have another baby at some point, I am really really scared of surgeries especially for cosmetic reasons and I really want to exhaust all other possible options before I have a serious surgery.

So, that being said, I opted to have some physio therapy (in which I was given a couple of simple exercises to work on every day) and was then recommended Pilates. It was also suggested that I  lose a bit of weight so that there was less pressure on my very weak abdominals (I was still 20lbs over my pre-second baby weight and slightly over weight for my frame). I was also advised not to do traditional sit-ups or crunches as they may further exacerbate the separation of my abdominals.

I started taking Pilates at the beginning of December and so far I love it! I take the class once a week at my local gym and we'll see how things go but I may take another class if I can. I have also taken a serious look at how I eat and have begun to get back on track with healthier options using Weight Watchers ProPoints.
Note: I am not using Weight Watchers as a diet (I am now in a healthy weight range) but rather as a guide to help me get back on track with portion control and choosing healthier food options. This is a lifestyle 'adjustment' for me. (Also, I am in no way affiliated with Weight Watchers and pay out of my own pocket for my monthly subscription)

So far, things have progressed very slowly with reducing the separation of my abs and of course it probably doesn't help that I had such a late diagnosis (I only found out about this condition when my youngest was one!! Um...why do I still look about 5 months pregnant??) but the good news is that things are starting to look and feel better in my stomach/abdominal area.

Still a little round in the belly (sorry no naked belly shot as I also have a umbilical hernia which is not pretty)
I know being a mum I may never have my old body back and I am totally OK with that. After all I have two absolutely gorgeous boys to be with everyday, they mean the world to me and they are more than worth it!

**Please note (again), these are my opinions on my specific experience with Diastasis Recti. I am not a medical professional. Many women have variations of symptoms with Diastasis Recti and what was suggested to me may not be right for someone else. With this in mind some women suffer tremendous pain with this condition and the surgical procedure is not cosmetic for them and in fact very necessary. I am not at all against having the procedure it is just not for me at this time.

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