This is a series on my experience with surgery to repair diastasis recti while breastfeeding.
I’m not sure where to begin. You see, I started this blog to share tips, recipes, tricks, and things to help make life easier. But sometimes it dawns on me that I have this personal space on the internet, and I can make it totally my own. I guess that’s where I am today. This is part of my real life. I’m going to be blogging a series on diastasis recti and my surgery to repair it along with two hernias, all while having a six-month-old breastfeeding daughter. I promised to be real with you from the start, and this is real life for me.
What is Diastasis Recti?
The long answer: According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine:
Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area…
In pregnant women, increased tension on the abdominal wall may lead to diastasis recti. Multiple births or repeated pregnancies increase the risk.
A diastasis recti looks like a ridge, which runs down the middle of the belly area. It stretches from the bottom of the breastbone to the belly button, and increases with muscle straining.
Diastasis recti is commonly seen in women who have multiple pregnancies, because the muscles have been stretched many times. Extra skin and soft tissue in the front of the abdominal wall may be the only signs of this condition in early pregnancy. In the later part of pregnancy, the top of the pregnant uterus is often seen bulging out of the abdominal wall. An outline of parts of the unborn baby may be seen in some severe cases.
The short answer: pregnancy made my stomach muscles split, resulting in extra saggy skin, stretch marks, and eventually, two hernias in my belly button.
Diastasis recti affects many people, mostly mothers from my rough knowledge. In less than seven years, I’ve carried and birthed three amazing boys and a precious, amazing girl in this here tummy. Suffice it to say, my stomach, which wasn’t very strong to begin with, has really had a time with it.
The article later states that there is no treatment necessary for the condition.
Your stomach muscles are used in pretty much any activity you can think of! I find it puzzling that the mainstream thinking regarding this separation of stomach muscles would be to leave it untreated. This separation of muscles contributed to intense back and neck pain, in my personal experience, as well as stomach muscle weakness. I had the distinct inability to display proper posture…think about it, you need your stomach muscles to hold yourself up! Thus begins a sort of downward spiral of overcompensating with the wrong muscles, like I said, leading to sometimes intense pain and later, hernias.
If someone dealing with diastasis recti wants to get it treated, they have a few options, thankfully. A tummy tuck is one option, diastasis recti surgery to repair the separation is another (and the one I ultimately chose), and there is also something called the Tupler Technique. (You can read more about the Tupler Technique here.)
The Tupler Technique, being a natural and much less invasive process, would have been my first choice. I even ordered the video and equipment. However, since my diastasis recti included two(!) umbilical hernias, while it might have with time repaired the separation, the hernias would have been found wanting. They were starting to get painful too. So, while I ultimately chose surgery, I would highly recommend this avenue for people who don’t have accompanying hernias.
I’ll also be honest: I didn’t think much of my ability to keep up with the exercises faithfully for months on end!
Why Share My Experience?
For several reasons. One, because I find writing therapeutic and I know that logging the events and my feelings will help me emotionally in the recovery. But also for you.
When we decided to go ahead with the diastasis recti surgery, I had more than a few unanswered questions. Unsurprisingly, I looked to the internet to answer those questions, but was met with little. A lot of people who repair their DR end up getting a tummy tuck or mommy makeover. While I would have loved to have the aesthetic benefits of a cosmetic surgery, that’s not what I was encountering. I decided, due to the lack of information I found, I would go ahead and share a log of events surrounding the surgery.
I know I’m not alone out there. Many mothers silently deal with this separation of the rectus abdominus, and are left wondering what to do and how to deal. I’ve always found comfort in hearing from others who are dealing with the same issues I’m dealing with. I hope someone can find comfort here. Please check back for updates to the series (my first), and please leave a comment and let me know your situation or story.
Here’s to repaired tummies! And life as we know it.
Read on for Pre-Operation.
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