Diastasis recti? What is that?
When I was pregnant with my first baby, my midwife mentioned it in passing and I didn't really think much of it. I should have looked it up or asked more questions but I was too overwhelmed already... All my midwife told me about it was that I should roll out of bed instead of sit up straight. I didn't really understand what she was trying to tell me but as the pregnancy progressed, I started rolling out of bed instead of sitting up straight.
But by then the damage had been done.
When I became pregnant with my second baby, I was having major incontinence issues. I tried doing Kegels and those actually seemed to make things worse! I couldn't figure it out and I started to look for answers...
I stumbled upon an exercise site called Fit2b and after trying some of the free exercise routines, I could tell that Beth Learn was someone who had truly done lots of research, study, and training on how to help moms like me exercise safely without causing further injury. I needed something very beginner and very easy so I decided to just jump in with a year subscription. As I started to do the exercises, I started to learn from Beth Learn, the instructor for Fit2b, what a diastasis recti was.
What is a diastasis recti?
A diastasis recti is a separation of your abdominal muscles...specifically your transverse abdominis which is the muscle underneath your abs that acts like a corset to your gut. The transverse abdominis wraps around your stomach and connects to your spine. It is the muscle that holds you all together. The transverse abdominis naturally separates during pregnancy but it is supposed to heal back together. However, if you do the wrong movements with your core during pregnancy, it can aggravate it and open it more, making it harder for your body to heal. This is what I had done...I had done sit-ups, crunches, and other exercises that I thought would be good for my stomach during the beginning of my pregnancy but were actually the very worst things I could have done! If only I had known!
My diastasis recti after my second baby was very deep and about 3 fingers wide.
When you have a diastasis recti, it also generally results in a weak pelvic floor. So the two issues generally travel together because the transverse abdominis works with the pelvic floor and the diaphragm like a vacuum...and a weak transverse abdominis means that it isn't functioning the way it is supposed to to help your pelvic floor.
Want a flatter stomach?
When you have a diastasis recti, you may also feel like you can never lose enough weight to get rid of the belly bulge...well, it isn't all weight that is a problem. The key is strengthening and healing your natural corset so that it will hold you in!
When you are pregnant you naturally have a diastasis recti...but if you do things to aggravate it and open it more, then it doesn't always heal back together after you have had your baby. This is what I had done...I had done sit-ups, crunches, and other exercises that I thought would be good for my stomach during the beginning of my pregnancy but were actually the very worst things I could have done! If only I had known!
How I began healing my diastasis recti
My first step to healing my diastasis recti was doing the tummy safe exercises on Fit2b. I learned that not all exercises were safe or even profitable for strengthening my ab muscles and healing my diastasis recti. The beauty of Fit2b was that I didn't have to know all the exercises to avoid, I could just focus on doing the exercises she taught correctly since every single one of her fitness videos is safe for people with diastasis recti! During the exercises, she also taught me better ways to move my body throughout the day to protect my diastasis and help it have a chance to heal.
It was life-changing. My view towards how exercise was supposed to feel and my view towards my post-partum body changed 180 degrees. I learned more about how my body should move during exercise and in my daily life than I had ever learned from any other exercise program.
In one of the videos, Beth mentioned Pelvic Floor therapy for incontinence issues...I had never even heard of it! I thought I was just going to be peeing my pants every cough and sneeze for the rest of my life! When I heard of that, I knew I had to look into it. I found a pelvic floor therapist in my town thanks to Beth Learn's guidelines of how to find a good one. My pelvic floor therapist also gave me exercises to heal my diastasis recti and it started to improve slowly but surely!
Then I got pregnant with my third baby...having another pregnancy did set me back in my healing journey but I am now 2 years post-partum with her. Today, my diastasis recti is much more shallow and not as wide. I know what exercises I need to do to heal...I just need consistency. That is often the most difficult part when you are a stay-at-home mom with kids, but the important thing is to give yourself and your body grace and just keep working towards your goal even if healing takes longer than you would like. It is possible and you can do it!
If you are ready to begin your healing journey, I would 100% recommend starting with Fit2B first. If you are tired of the same old, "push yourself until you are dying workouts" and you are wanting a stronger, flatter stomach & core, try Fit2B. You will be sooo glad you did.
xo Rachelle <3