The condition I wish I’d heard of before I got pregnant
Updated: May 5
If you’ve given birth and you have a little pooch that won’t seem to disappear regardless of how much healthy eating and exercise you’re doing, read on because you may have this condition.
After I had my baby girl I didn’t really do much exercise. I was lucky in that my weight hadn’t fluctuated much, and breastfeeding seemed to help me burn some extra calories. Sure I was active, took walks and did some at home exercise sometimes when she would nap, but I never dedicated time to a proper work out session with an instructor until Little Miss turned one. I finally decided that I needed to seriously get back into things so I signed up to pilates, an activity I’ve always loved, but hadn’t done for ten years.
During my initial pilates consultation my instructor asked me if I had Diastasis Recti and I just looked at her blankly. I had no idea what it was. She explained that it was when your abdominal separates and the space between your left and right belly muscles widens. It’s quite common after birth.
She then proceeded to check my stomach and to my horror she confirmed that I indeed had Diastasis Recti. It was only a few centimetres wide, but STILL. The rest of my body was back to my pre-pregnancy normal BUT I had a little pooch that didn’t seem to get flat. Now I knew why!
I couldn’t believe I waited a whole year to uncover this. It was at that point I wish I had know about it earlier. It wasn’t covered in any of my birth classes. If I had known, I would have been more proactive in rectifying it months before.
What astounded me was the fact that she said I only had FIVE YEARS after giving birth to close it up again. After five years it permanently separates, and nothing you can do will close it up again. I had no idea!
According to webmd, Diastasis Recti is very common among pregnant women. About two-thirds of pregnant women have it. Also having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 when pregnant, or if you’re having a heavy baby or twins, triplets, or more.
But hold on ladies, if you think you can just do crunches, sit ups and even some yoga positions like downward dog after birth to help strengthen it, you’re wrong. Some exercises actually make the condition worse! And sorry but those waist slimmers you see plastered all over Instagram don’t help either so don’t waste your money.
Pilates has helped me close up my abdominal gap and also strengthen my pelvic floor and improve my posture. Most times I naturally stick my stomach out. So I constantly need to remind myself to stand properly and bring my core in which also helps close the gap. Standing straight definitely doesn’t come naturally for me, but Pilates has helped a lot. I’ve been doing pilates on a weekly basis for more than one year now and my gap has closed (yippee!).
On a similar note, I often hear mamas make jokes about having a weak bladder after kids. I also want to say ladies it is NOT normal to leak down there if you know what I mean. If you’re needing to hold your pee in when you laugh and cough, you probably have a pelvic floor that needs strengthening.
This may be TMI (too much information) but I’ve been told by my doctor during a genealogical exam that I have one of the highest pelvic floors he’s ever seen (basically I have the opposite of prolapse). I credit pilates to this!
And when is the best time to get started you ask? BEFORE you get pregnant. That’s right. Don’t leave it until after the birth, begin pelvic floor and core strengthening before you conceive. But in saying that, even if you’ve only just heard about this, don’t waste another day. Find out if you’ve got this condition, and then take action.
Not sure if you have Diastasis Recti? You can easily measure it yourself. It’s actually not that hard to do. Check out this video. Otherwise you can ask a medical professional, women’s health physio or qualified instructor to check it for you.