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

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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