Mind the Gap: Your Post-Pregnancy Pooch Explained

 

It’s a rainy day in January and as I moved through my workout at the gym I glanced up at the television and found myself annoyed, fuming, jealous, and angry at some infomercial for an ab roller or ab coaster or whatever the contraption was called that was being demonstrated by women with 6 packs and 1% body fat that was claiming to “give you the abs” you’ve always wanted. I scoffed and thought, “Ugh. Obviously these women have never had babies or have even heard the words Diastastis Recti in their life”.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty fit person and remained active during and after both of my pregnancies. After my first pregnancy I was able to get back into great shape about 5-6 months postpartum. I noticed my belly button, formerly a deep “innie”, was a little bit flatter but I chalked that up to being a small price to pay for my beautiful son (this becomes important later on in the post). My husband and I have recently welcomed our daughter into the world about 6 months ago and while most of the body fat and pounds have been shed, my belly button still remains an “outie” and my abs still look as though I am 3 months pregnant!

At my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, I asked my OBGyn why my belly button was sticking out and she said to give it time but that I was cleared to begin building my core strength back again. She said to do planks in lieu of crunches (I thought to myself “duh lady, I know what I’m doing here”) but that I was good to go. Commence my journey back to running, boot camping, planking, weightlifting, you name it. At 3 months postpartum, I made an appointment with a different OBGyn in the same practice specifically about my belly button still sticking out and an article I had stumbled upon through my Google searches about a condition known as “Diastasic Recti” which is essentially when your abdominal muscles pull apart from one another causing that hard to fix “mummy tummy”, poochy belly, and the look and feel as though you are still 3 months pregnant despite losing all of your pregnancy weight. She said my the gap between my transverse abdominal muscles was minor and that I should just give it more time and continue to strengthen my core. She also mentioned that surgery is an option, but, more than likely a general surgeon would not accept my surgery since I am not experiencing any other complications (back pain, urinary incontinence, etc.) and it would more than likely end up as cosmetic surgery that I would have to pay out of pocket for – really not an option for me financially nor something that I want to pursue.

I am now 6 months postpartum and, fed up with my poochy belly and outie belly button, I came across a practice called the “Tupler Technique” during my internet searches which claims to correct Diastasis Recti and umbilical hernias by wearing a splint, being diligent about a special set of exercises to be performed daily, and becoming more aware of how you use your core throughout the day. I found a licensed Tupler Technique trainer who is also a personal trainer close to my home. I visited her last week for an initial consultation. She confirmed that I have an 8 finger width (gasp!!!) separation underneath my abdominal wall which is also causing the outie belly button. She mentioned that it sounds as though I may have had a smaller diastasis after my first child that went undiagnosed (hence flat belly button). She said that doing planks and other core busting abdominal exercises are pretty much the worst thing you can do when you have a diastasis because they can push the muscles outwards if you have this condition (double gasp!!!). I felt angry. Duped. Misguided. Misled. Misinformed. And I had some choice words for my OBGyn. The Tupler Technique professional, Dawn, assured me this wasn’t my “fault” and that 30% of women actually have a diastasis post pregnancy and don’t even realize it. She explained that pregnancy and labor are the hardest things you can put your body through (repeatedly) and this is the result sometimes. She also explained having a diastasis can result in lower back issues down the road, urinary incontinence, and possible trauma to the abdomen.

I pretty much stewed about this whole chain of events the entire weekend, but, I have made my peace and am ready to move on and fix this. I am thankful because I have made it through both pregnancies and labors relatively unscathed and have my two beautiful babies as a result. I have chosen to blog about my journey with Diastasis Recti and the Tupler Technique because I feel like the word needs to be spread!! Women need to know about this (don’t leave it up to your OBGyn’s to diagnosis this) and they also need to know that apparently if you do the Tupler Technique exercises during pregnancy you can actually prevent Diastasis Recti from occurring post pregnancy. Also, if this works, please don’t consider the expense, risk, and recuperation of surgery unless you really have to! It’s approximately T-24 hours until I head to Dawn’s house for our first session together. I will get my splint and she will coach me through the exercises I need to perform for the next 6+ weeks (she mentioned that her 9 finger width diastasis took 6 months to resolve – and she still works on it every day for maintenance). Wish me luck!!!

Check out this link to the Tupler Technique: www.diastasisrehab.com

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