4 Surprising Things You Need to Know About Diastasis Recti
Today, like most days, I hit the gym for an intense workout.
As I loaded up the weights on my squat bar, feeling pretty good that the weight was far more than I have ever done, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and immediately thought …
“Wow, who is that pregnant person?”
Until I realized two things: 1. It was me, and 2. I'm not pregnant
The plain and simple truth, my friends, is that I am really, really struggling with losing my “mummy tummy,” and despite months of very rigorous exercise, I've toned up my entire body except my stomach. My arms are showing more definition, my legs are getting stronger, I've successfully trained for a half marathon, and although I still have some extra weight to lose, I feel so much better.
But my stomach hasn't budged. I honest to goodness look like I'm about six-months pregnant, and it's the most frustrating thing ever to put in all of this work and still not feel good about my body.
Don't get me wrong, I feel so much better mentally and emotionally, and I'm grateful I am working out at all, but my stomach, after four kids, is just a trigger with me. I focus on it, obsess about it, and I feel like everything I wear, everywhere I go, everything I do is ruined by my stomach.
I'm not someone who does pregnancy gracefully. I get huge. Big bellies, big babies, and with my last pregnancy, I had a medical condition called polyhydramnios, which resulted in me having a belly that was the size of a full-term stomach at only 32 weeks along — and it just kept growing. I think they stopped keeping track of how big it actually was by the time I gave birth. (They ended up inducing me at 37 weeks because of all the fluid).
And although, logically in my head, I know that not everyone has larger-than-life pregnancies and that I am making good strides in a healthier lifestyle, it's still hard. I've done a lot of research into diastasis recti, and there are a few things that I think most women don't know about the condition:
- Not everyone gets it. It really is hard to discern if pregnancy = you will get diastasis recti forever, but have no fear — not everyone gets it. Well, I should say, not everyone keeps it, because, of course, all women's abs will shift somewhat during pregnancy, but the degree depends on genetics, exercise, and just plain old luck.
- It requires physical therapy. I think that because usually only women get DR (even though men can get it too), it's often not treated like a “real” medical condition. Like, it's normal for women to get it, and we should just deal with it because it's one of those sacrifices that are so worth it for our babies. Except it's treatable, guys. Physical therapy can help.
- You will probably need a prescription. Once I became determined enough to try to fix my DR, I tried making an appointment with a local physical therapist to get some advice on exercising and healing my muscles, only to discover that you can't just waltz into a physical therapy office without a prescription. I was too embarrassed to go to my general care provider, so I asked my midwife for a referral.
- It looks different for everyone. The hardest part about DR, for me, has been sorting through all the different types of information on it. DR is different for everyone because our body shapes are different and the way our muscles may or may not protrude is different. You can even have a flat stomach and still have DR.
Do you have diastasis recti? What are you doing about it?