By Alicia Barnes, liciabobesha.com
In a normal week I spend 6-8 hours in the gym, so when my stomach wasn’t getting to where I was happy with it, I knew something wasn’t right.
I kept hearing about diastasis recti, a separation between the abs, and wondered if I had it and tried the self check and I thought I did. There was a definite gap where there shouldn’t have been. I saw there were exercises and things you could buy online or that you could go to physical therapy for it, but I wasn’t sure if I had it or if I were just letting Dr. Google get to me.
So I ate better, and I still wasn’t happy.
Then I increased core and ab work outs, and I still wasn’t happy.
A year later, I showed my husband, and he agreed there seemed to be some separation as well. I was anxious to bring it up even to him. I was afraid to be told that I was imagining the problem. I didn’t want to look silly.
I really didn’t want to bring it up to my doctor to be lectured that I had a baby and this is what happens when you have a baby. The body changes, and you have to accept some of these changes. I didn’t want to seem vain.
It didn’t help that everywhere I saw all these post pregnancy body acceptance things where mothers showed their scars, stretch marks, and changed bodies with pride. I was afraid it looked like I loved my baby less because I didn’t love how my body was after carrying him.
After reading more on diastasis recti, I learned that it’s not only a cosmetic problem, and it tends to get worse with future pregnancies. The complications from it include back pain and and pelvic floor issues. I also learned that traditional exercises such as crunches and sit ups tend to make the problem worse instead of better. So this year during my annual wellness visit, I talked to my doctor who confirmed it wasn’t just in my head. I definitely had a gap.
The good news was it wasn’t a bad gap, and I had no other problems. I didn’t need surgery like some women do. My doctor suggested that it’d probably keep closing on its own if I kept up my active lifestyle, but when I asked for a physical therapy referral, she gave it to me because she understood that I wanted to get ahead of this before I was pregnant again.
The physical therapist was great. He assessed my core and the workouts I already do. He corrected my form on several so I was more properly engaging my core and gave me other workouts not only for my stomach but also for my hips to avoid hip pain in my future pregnancies like I had before.
No one made me feel bad for wanting my belly to look better. Instead they were all glad I was there before I had future babies and the problem got worse. I encourage any women who suspect whose bellies seem to be bulging more than they should to give themselves the diastasis recti self test. If you have a gap, you can work on it. It’s only been a few weeks in, and I can tell mine is already getting better.
Alicia lives in a small college town that often challenges her resolve to live as simply and as stress-free as possible. When she’s not working, rereading the same children’s books, cooking, or wondering how crunchy she’s become, she’s busy updating her site, liciabobesha.com. You can follow her on facebook.