Diastasis & Post Twins
Today we are diving into something called Diastasis – a word that I had never heard of in my life before having the twins. Now, post-twins, I have come to know it very well! Diastasis Recti (I still have trouble pronouncing it) is most simply described as the separation of your abdominal muscles. It’s most common in pregnant women who are over 35 or who are having multiples. A few months after having the girls, I knew something wasn’t quite right. Everyone kept telling me to be patient, getting my body back would take a while. But, this was different. I could just feel it. My belly was shrinking, but not in the middle. It stuck out similar to a cone, and it was really freaking me out. So, I did what anyone would do… got on Google, ha. Luckily, I stumbled upon an at-home test for Diastasis pretty early into the rabbit -hole I was diving down.
The basic home Diastasis test:
Lie on your back, knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your belly, perpendicular to your stomach, with your fingers pointing at your belly button. With your other hand behind your head, lift your head, while pressing your fingertips down on your belly. If you feel your fingers sinking into a gap, you likely have a separation.
Result of my home test: I had it… Nooooo!
Immediately, I decided I was on a mission to figure out what I could do to fix this. Even though I felt the separation, I still thought… “Maybe it’s just a hernia.” So I started with my general physician and he wasn’t sure so referred me to a plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon said it looked like it could be a hernia, but ultimately confirmed that it was a Diastasis Recti 🙁 My options were surgery (tummy tuck) or try to improve it corrective exercises. Even though I technically had “options” the reality is, you can’t fully repair the separation without surgery. I’ll be honest here… I was pissed! I mean, who wants to have this awful surgery, a terrible scar, and not being able to pick up my new babies for months?! I felt so lost. I was beating myself up for being vain, like “come on Courtney you have these beautiful healthy babies, it comes with the territory.” But, no matter how much I tried to shame myself – I was so uncomfortable with these body changes. I was feeling angry that I had worked so hard to have a super healthy pregnancy, I was willing to get right back into the gym… and yet there I was contemplating having a tummy tuck?!
After a lot of self reflecting, several long talks with Khalil and family/friends I decided surgery was not in the cards for me. I would do my best to close “the gap” so to speak on my own. I am beyond fortunate because one of our close friends is an amazing PT – so he showed me exercises to avoid, and the ones I could do to strengthen my core while I tried to improve the separation.
Exercises to avoid with Diastasis Recti:
I was shocked when he told me this! These are all the things I would’ve assumed would help, but could actually making the problem worse. Crazy, right?!
The great thing is, there are modifications for most of these exercises, you just have to learn them. You want to think about working mindfully and slowly. Taking deep breaths as you work your core, actually visualizing your muscles coming together, drawing in and up.
I am happy to report that my ab separation has improved so much! I actually have abs now! I am in even better shape than before I had the twins. I wish I had more pictures right after having the girls to share with you. The truth is, I was so self-conscious about it that I never really took any. You can see from the pregnancy picture my belly was huge – it makes sense that I had the separation
In retrospect, I would have tried to strengthen my core before and during my pregnancy. In a perfect world, right!?
Point being, before you go under the knife… just try to start with the right exercises. You can totally improve it naturally, and you’ll be in better overall shape as well. I’ve tried yoga, pilates, even at home workouts but nothing has worked better for me than Pure Barre. Stay tuned for Friday’s post and I will share more about why I love it, and how it helped me get back to feeling confident in my new post-twin-pregnancy-body.