Diastisis Recti

Many of you mommies have an idea of what this is, or have heard of it.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s possible that you may even have it.  If you’ve ever had a child or children, even if it was a decade ago, and still have your ‘mommy tummy’, this could be why.

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscles that make up that six pack that you so desperately miss- or have secretly  longed for.   It’s technically defined as a gap greater than 2.7cm or 2-3 finger widths in between the Rectus muscles.  It is usually the result of intra-abdominal pressure and loading.   During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the connective tissue between the right and left muscle groups and occasionally it won’t return to normal on it’s own.  Nearly all pregnant women have this gap immediately postpartum, some correct on their own, and some do not.  I should note that it occurs primarily in pregnant women and newborns, but can also appear in men.   Pregnancy does not actually cause the separation, but it will make a problem worse.  Women are most susceptible, especially if pregnant over the age of 35 (as I was), having big babies, multiple babies, or multiple pregnancies close together (also me).   This condition can also be associated with or cause pelvic floor dysfunction.

It’s really easy to see if you may have this condition.  You lie on your back on the floor with your knees up and feet flat.  Place your fingers near the belly button area.  Tense up your abdomen and raise your head up, chin to chest.  You will be able to feel some separation between the muscles, it all depends on how many fingers you can fit in the gap.  Right now, I’m about a full 3 finger gap at my belly button region.  I expected this, as I found I had some separation after my last pregnancy and in the 10 months before my next pregnancy, wasn’t able to lose that belly.  I was still 10 lbs over my normal weight when I got pregnant with Owen.  I might add that after my first pregnancy, my body was pretty much back to my pre-pregnancy body, with no belly, at about the four month mark.

There are varying opinions as to whether this can be corrected with exercise or not.  There are even exercise programs you can pay for that claim to make a huge difference in your abdomen and close that gap significantly.  I have done a lot of reading on the subject and the majority of people, whether medical experts, fitness experts or just women who’ve managed to correct this themselves, seems to have a small number of exercises they recommend.   Most are centered around a basic Core contraction or Transverse Abdominis contraction that you practice and hold in order to strengthen your core area.  Once you master that contraction, you can add single heel slides while holding, you can add a knee raise, or use a resistance band around the knees and pull knees apart.   Squats are also said to help strengthen, as long as your holding the initial contraction.  This is only a small sample of beneficial exercises.  I’m not a medical or fitness expert so I’m not going to go into detail about these exercises, nor am I going to link one specific site for reference.  I’m merely going off of a consensus that I’ve noticed among the so-called experts.  I also have a good idea of what will work for core strengthening as I used to teach it on a regular basis, not that anyone could tell.

There is also a consensus on exercises that may be detrimental to the diastasis or even make it worse.  Any type of crunches, sit-ups, jack knife position,  and oblique twisting are no-nos.  Many types of pilates exercises can also make this problem worse.  

I’ve begun doing a handful of the recommended exercises (almost) daily and have been very aware of holding that TA contraction throughout the day.  I’m tempted to try out one of the programs that cost money, although most don’t say what you’re getting besides exercises.  I’ll keep at it and pray that I can even slightly correct this problem.  I really don’t want to look 5 months pregnant the rest of my life, and at six weeks out I have 20 lbs to lose.  I guess the other option is getting a tummy tuck, and I have no plans of doing that in the future.  Best of luck to all you mommies also struggling with your mini keg of a midsection.  Hopefully in the future, I’ll have a positive update for you.

 

 

 

 

Finally moving forward

I am so far behind on posts, it’s a little discouraging.  I actually began this post in December, lol.  While it is months overdue,  I had a lot less free time than I thought I would while I was pregnant.  I was working, have a busy, picky, non-potty training toddler, and basically one day off per week that I had to get most errands/doctors appointments squeezed into.   Then in much of my free time in the last few months, I was trying to get a nap in here and there.   That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

I covered our wonderful pregnancy news in a prior post.  We were so surprised and excited to finally be pregnant again.  I was working in a small spa that catered to pregnant women, and it worked out perfect for me.  The spa was owned by a group of perinatal specialists, some of the best in the city.  The spa owner recommended one of the doctors to see if I became pregnant.  I actually saw him before my own OB, around 6 weeks,  mostly because I was an employee and had had prior losses.  They specialize in all types of high risk pregnancies as well as women with prior losses.  He felt confident we would get to take this baby home and was amazing throughout the entire pregnancy.

I chose to stay with my OB (love him and his staff!) and have him deliver me, as he did my  prior C-sections.  I would then see the specialist for all monitoring and ultrasounds.  That would happen regardless due to my advanced maternal age.   The specialist had put me on Lovenox blood thinner shots daily.  Those were not fun, but they were necessary as a precaution because I have 2 blood disorders that were found after I lost Isabella.  We never found a reason why she passed, so this was the best way to prevent any minor clots, which may have possibly been the cause.

Everything was going very smoothly.  Hubby and I talked a lot in the beginning about not being crazy worried or having constant anxiety through this whole pregnancy because that isn’t good for me or the baby.  What happens will happen, and we will do all that we can to bring this baby home.  We had genetic testing done around 11 weeks and were able to find out that we were having another boy!  A little brother for Max!  Granted, I cried the rest of the day when we found out he was a boy, but it was almost like we had to grieve her loss again.  My husband felt the same way that day, just sad about the loss of our daughter and a potentially another daughter.  The next morning we both got up feeling good about having 2 boys that will hopefully be great brothers to each other.  That, of course, opened up more talk about trying for a third…yikes!

As we settled into the thought of boys, and the many doctor appointments, we grew more and more excited.  I was huge immediately, had people guessing I was pregnant as soon as 14 weeks.  By the time I reached 32 weeks, I was as big around as when I had Max.  The pregnancy was highly uncomplicated.  I did end up with my fluid being on the high side in my third trimester, but at 32 weeks I began 2x/week monitoring and they just kept an eye on it.  It definitely made me larger and more uncomfortable sooner than I was used to.   Most days I felt great (light) in the morning, and by late evening felt like I had gained 10 extra pounds that day!

We were having a scheduled repeat C-section and the doctors agreed that 38 weeks was a good time to do it.  37 weeks is considered by most to be full term, but the specialist felt that the extra week would most likely (in his past experience) keep baby out of the NICU.  Around the 35 week mark we were able to schedule you for May 17th.   That would be 37 weeks and 6 days.  We were so excited, just a few weeks left to go.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:30, with the surgery scheduled for 5:30 pm.  That day was long for me, mostly because I was nervous, and I couldn’t eat or drink anything (even water) since 9:30am.  That was completely my choice, because the other time option was 2 days later and I didn’t want to wait that long.   We were put in a room right away and they immediately prepped me for surgery.  The nurses were awesome and had me ready to go in about a half hour.  The labs were ordered, now we just wait.  The anesthesiologist came to speak to us, he was very cool.  Then we waited some more.  Finally at around 5:15, my OB came in to say hello and ask if we had any questions and went over what was going to happen.  Ten minutes later we were walking down to

So Perfect!

the OR.

From the moment my OB came in to my room to say hi, I had been shaking.  So nervous and scared.  Even though I’d done this twice before they were both very different circumstances.  With Max, I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours when I finally went into the OR, and with Isabella, we were still in shock, I think, so I really don’t even remember much of that one until my husband was holding her next to me.  They began cleaning my back for the epidural and it was discovered that they were missing some of the blood work and had to call down to the lab to have it run stat.  He would not administer the epidural until he saw everything was good.  That made me feel good.  They called my husband in to sit down and we basically chatted in the OR for probably ten minutes before the lab called up with the results.  Then it was underway.

Owen Parker

Getting a spinal block is one of the most awkward, uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had.  The pressure, not the needle stick, that you feel in the spine just gives me the willies.  I still remember that feeling from last time.  My doctor is amazing and walked me through everything as it happened and that really helps.  Gary got to sit in and watch the whole thing.  I had waves of nausea from the meds, which the anesthesiologist took care of right away.  I got nauseous all 3 times, but this time I actually was dry heaving.  So strange, being awake with you arms tied down and having no control over anything.  Things seemed to be going well, same as before.  The anesthesiologist kept checking on me, he was great, and he let Gary know if he wanted to see the baby being born, to stand up and watch.  To my surprise, he did.  I thought for sure I would see my husband hit the floor, but he didn’t.  He said it was the most amazing thing he’s ever seen.  Baby Owen was born at 6:07pm.

Our Rainbow is here!

He cried immediately but sounded really gurgly (is that a word?) and that worried me.  It took a minute but they cleared it and he was great.  Bright red baby with lots of really dark hair, just like his sister had.   They took hubby and baby to get him cleaned up and I waited to be sewed up.  At one point I heard my doc say something about a lot of bleeding.  They were having trouble stopping some bleeding by my pubic bone, so it took an extra 20-30 minutes to get me back to the room to see the baby.   When I got back into the room he was doing skin to skin with daddy which was so sweet, then I finally got to hold my second baby boy.  It felt so amazing and scary, and we were relieved and terrified at the same time.  That parental responsibility that never goes away was intensified by a million in that moment.  As was my love for my children and family.  This was a long and challenging road for us, but was worth every second the day he was born.

We now face the question from everyone-are you going to try for a third child, or a girl?  Right now, I think we are planning on it, maybe early next year.  So far we are taking this one day at a time and really enjoying our new baby while he’s so very tiny and perfect.  People think we are crazy to try again or have three kids and we just don’t see it like that.  These are mostly people that had one girl and one boy and decided to be done.  I know my hubby wants a baby girl and I think we should try for one and see what happens.  We are also ok having three boys.   The best thing I’ve heard came from my sister who said…No one ever regrets having a third kid, but many people regret NOT having them.  So if it happens, we will be ecstatic, and if it doesn’t, we will love our family of four just the way it is.