Jun
28
2011

  I Must Have Diastasis Recti

When I would sit up while I was pregnant, I'd notice a vertical bulge in the middle of my belly, which I presumed was the baby getting pushed forward.

But today I noticed the same bulge. But there was no baby in there to blame it on! I did a quick search online and saw some photos that look like my condition, which seems to be "diastasis recti", meaning a separation of the abdominal muscles.

This is a common side-effect of pregnancy. I might have even had it after W, but it's obviously worse now that I can see the bulge come up several inches. That bulge is apparently my internal organs pushing against some membrane. If there were abdominal muscles over the middle of my stomach the organs would not bulge out, but the membrane is thin enough that it can't hold them in.

Great.

Fortunately, thanks to the internet, I can see that there IS a solution-- strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles and wear a splint (belly band) until the top layer of abdominals come back closer together. Based on my brief perusal of various tummy therapy sites, it looks like one might never get rid of this separation completely, but just reducing it from many finger-widths to fewer finger-widths (how a diastasis is measured) seems to help one's appearance greatly. But one thing I've seen mentioned multiple times is that while it is difficult to close a gap, it is easy to do something wrong and re-open it again.

One review of a book that had instructions for some trademarked technique advised readers to save their money and just do a google search for "transverse abdominal exercises", and another review said she didn't know how a new mom with an infant could possibly fit in 500 reps per day in order to fix her muscles, so I presume that is the amount of exercise this trademarked technique recommends to get results in 6 to 18 weeks (a number I got from their website). So I will take the reviewer's advice and save the $13 and just focus on the handful of transverse abs exercises that are out there.

The interesting thing is that I've already started doing them-- when I got my last sonogram, in the waiting room I read an article about exercises that were safe to do immediately postpartum (well, after 24 hours), and squeezing your abs in was one of them. I've been doing that isometric exercise several times per day for over a week now. Turns out, that is an exercise to strengthen the transverse muscle. But no way have I been doing 500 reps (more like 20). Although I'm not sure I'll be able to manage that many, I'll certainly try. Because while the bulging tummy is unsightly, the whole football-shaped bulge of protruding organs when I try to sit up is downright freaky, and I'm pretty motivated to make that go away.