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Every Pregnant Women Should Be Aware of Diastasis Recti After Giving Birth!

Every Pregnant Women Should Be Aware of Diastasis Recti After Giving Birth!

Every mother will agree that giving birth and becoming a mother is the most beautiful thing in the world. It is probably the bravest and most generous role one can accept. Mothers take on the biggest responsibility – giving birth and taking care of another human being. Quite often, this role completely overtakes their life, in a sense that their health and wellbeing becomes of secondary importance. This is why at most mums gatherings, children health and wellbeing are the only topics discussed. Even though there is sometimes not enough time to discuss the topics of post-pregnancy health, it is an important issue that deserves more awareness and attention since it affects a great number of new mums.

One of such post-pregnancy health issues is diastasis recti – a widening of the gap between the two sections of (Rectus Abdominis) abdominal muscle located at the front of the abdomen due to the growth of the uterus. The condition usually develops in the late pregnancy and is most noticeable after delivery. In some cases, the separation of the tissue can lessen in a couple of months after the childbirth, while in some cases the condition may last up to a year or longer.

Aside from health concerns that include weakened muscles and lower back pain, women going through diastasis recti experience a series of other difficulties, such as not being able to wear their usual jeans, as they simply don’t fit, even when they weigh the same as they did before pregnancy; or being frustrated with the fact that they have been able to shed all of the baby weight and still to have to carry a tummy that looks like they are pregnant.

What causes diastasis recti?

Even though it is most common in pregnant women, pregnancy doesn’t actually cause diastasis recti. It is quite possible that a great majority of people struggle with this since 98+ women have diastasis after delivery .

Diastasis recti is in fact, caused by intense intra-abdominal pressure or loading which is heightened by pregnancy, yet can be caused by an injury or surgery, therefore, men and children can also suffer from it.

Similarly to other pelvic and abdominal problems – hernia and prolapse, diastasis recti is directly caused by unsupported intra-abdominal pressure. The reason why most pregnant women face the condition is the weight of the baby that puts additional pressure on the connective abdominal tissue.

Who is more likely to have it?

Even though, as previously mentioned, children and men can suffer from diastasis recti as well, it is most common in women, especially pregnant women. Women are more likely to develop diastasis recti

  • If they have a petite physique
  • If they have had multiple pregnancies
  • If they became pregnant later in life – later than 35
  • If they deliver a baby who has a high birth weight
  • If they have poor muscle tone
  • If they have a sway back posture

How Do You Check If You Have It?

Bear in mind that you should always consult your doctor for a professional medical diagnosis and advice. That being said, there a couple of ways for you to check at home, before consulting a doctor.

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Lie on your back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Lift your head and neck slightly off the floor, and press your fingers above you belly button.
  2. Repeat by pressing over the belly button and below it.
  3. If the gap between the muscles is bigger than 1-2 finger wide, you should consult your doctor about the possible diastasis recti symptoms.

Additionally, pay close attention to the tension in the gap. In the cases of diastasis recti, the tension in the midline is weak to non-existent, which could be one of the symptoms of the condition.

Watch the two videos for more detailed explanation of the self-examination process.

If You Have Diastasis recti, What Are The Do’s and Don’ts

What You Need To Do:

There are a great number of advice on how to treat diastasis recti, and many facts to be aware of if you have been diagnosed with the condition.

Be careful with exercise

Some types of exercises like planks, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, some yoga poses (downward dog) and swimming can make matters even worse.

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Consult your doctor

Before starting any type of abdominal exercise, before or after pregnancy, make sure to ask your doctor first on how it will affect the possible development of the diastasis.

Treat the condition

Make sure to consult your doctor and find the best solution for you. There are some treatments and exercise programs that have been quite helpful in a majority of cases of diastasis recti. Some of them include the MuTu System, the Tupler technique, Fit2b, and The Tummy Team. Pilates is an other great way to strengthen the core muscles, before or during pregnancy, but make sure to choose a professional trainer who understands diastasis recti so that they can tailor the exercise to meet your specific needs.

What You Shouldn’t Do:

Even though traditional ab exercises can help to keep the abdominal muscles strong and prevent the diastasis recti, once the condition is determined it is suggested not to involve in any type of traditional ab workout.

No crunches

Helene Byrne, a prenatal and postpartum health and fitness expert suggests avoiding crunches, oblique curls, reverse curls, and roll-ups, since, at this point, it is not good for the recovery to involve in exercises that involve twisting the spine or work the abdominal wall against the force of gravity.

Don’t strain

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Any type of activity that involves straining the mid-line, such as sit-ups, planks, or heavy lifting is strictly forbidden since it can strain the connective tissue and make the separation between muscles even bigger, explains Kevin Brenner, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Beverly Hills.

Backbends are off limits

According to Ben Butts, P.T., director of rehabilitation services and Performance Therapy at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, any type of exercises that involve spinal extension movements can put additional pressure on the abdominal tissue and should, therefore be avoided during the healing process.

Can You prevent Diastasis Recti?

Even though so many of us are prone to developing diastasis recti, it is possible to lessen or completely prevent the condition from developing.

Before pregnancy

Health and fitness experts suggest taking care of your body long before planning pregnancy, with special attention to strengthening your core abdominal muscles. This will lessen the chances for the separation of the muscles later during pregnancy.

During pregnancy

Preventive measures you can do during pregnancy include more subtle, yet important actions. One of those includes the log roll maneuver as Ben Butts, P.T., director of rehabilitation services and Performance Therapy at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California suggests. The maneuver requires getting out of bed by rolling onto one side, keeping your head and torso aligned, and then using your arms to push yourself up. In this way, you are protecting your muscles from separating.

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There are plenty of workout programs that specifically target the postpartum recovery and women dealing with diastasis recti, one of which is The Dia Method that provides effective exercise plan to help you regain your pre-baby belly and weight.

Do postpartum splints or corset binders really help?

Splinting is considered as a part of postpartum tradition around the world, as a means for women to heal faster and lose the baby tummy sooner. Yet, nowadays there are two opposing views concerning postpartum splinting, both providing facts in their favor.

The pro binding facts include it being great addition to mild and focused exercises, with researches and users showing its effectiveness on healing the diastasis recti problem.

On the other hand, the opposing view suggests that splinting is not only ineffective in resolving diastasis , but it can also be counter-effective and prevent body from healing.

Even though both views are strongly defended, many patients have actually found that the combined approach worked best, as best results were achieved by using the splint to protect the abdominal muscles and to become aware of the muscle they are using, and then doing mild exercises suggested by specialists’ programs.

Exercises you can do after giving birth

There are great post baby workouts you can do at home when you want to get rid of baby belly or to heal the tissue separation caused by diastasis, yet you need to make sure to always consult your doctor for professional advice before starting any workout program. Here are some of the best exercises to do at home after delivery.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on August 15, 2019

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

2. Get a Little Curious

Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

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3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

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As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

8. Give Baby Parts a Break

No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

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There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

11. Play with Time

In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

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14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

Final Thoughts

Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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