What I want you to know about my stomach!
I decided to write this blog for my own sanity! Every day I end up ignoring my kids to write long post to a stranger on either the Diastasis Recti support group, CrossFit mom group, or Mom2Mom group. I just want to be the person that I needed years ago so badly, so please help me share my message!
Here is my stomach. Severe Diastasis Recti. It looked similar to this after my first pregnancy, but it definitely protrudes much more after my second. The creation of my stomach in its current state is multi-faceted.
- Small torso, big baby (both boys almost 9 pounds)
- Genetic factors: I got the short end of the stick how my fascia responded to these stressors.
- Making my already bad situation worse during my first “fit pregnancy” by doing exercises to increase intraabdominal pressure
- Returning to CrossFit and the physical demands of motherhood with no guidance
- Thinking I was healed more than I actually was after my first round of PFPT and returning to CrossFit activities in between pregnancies that further stressed my stomach.
- I had learned Julie Wiebe’s approach, piston breathing, and how to correctly manage pressure during my second pregnancy. However, I didn’t receive individualized attention and help until I found my new pelvic floor physical therapist 6 months postpartum. I thought I fixed my alignment, but I didn’t. I wasn’t activating my glutes, and I had to make some adjustments to my breathing. The moral of my story is that even with the right information, I still couldn’t do it on my own.
I am battling a 9-10 finger gap at my belly button. My hands sinks down so far that you can almost feel my spine because my fascia is completely unresponsive. I have seen 3 pelvic floor physical therapists, including making a trip from Michigan to California to see Julie Wiebe, all to confirm that surgery is my only option to heal. However, just because I know surgery is looming, doesn’t mean I just give up and wait or hurry up and get the surgery. There are so many other considerations to take into account. The muscle repair/tummy tuck/abdominoplasty surgery is NOT a quick fix and/or something to rush.
- Hormones released during breastfeeding delays healing; therefore, rushing into surgery before you body has completely readjusted can make recovery much harder. After you wean, it can take up to 6 months for your body to reaccumulate.
- Even with my extreme case, I have seen significant improvements through my work in pelvic floor physical therapy. I have done so by modifying my workouts at CrossFit, changing my alignment, learning how to activate my glutes, getting an internal assessment to help me learn how to activate those muscles, and doing PFPT exercises at home.
- Taking 1 & 2 into consideration, I want to go into surgery as strong as possible so I have a smoother recovery. I have fixed the movement patterns that have exacerbated my condition because those won’t magically go away once I have surgery. In fact, I have talked to many PFPTs and other professionals that have seen women experience prolapse or incontinence AFTER having this surgery because they never fixed what was truly causing the pressure issues in the first place. This actually happens quite frequently but we never, ever hear about it. Although any time I bring this up to the surgeons, they look at me like I am nuts. In any case, all of this work is also going to make me into a better and more efficient CrossFit athlete.
- Surgery recovery is more complex than most realize. Yes, it is really painful the first few weeks and you are stuck in a motorized reclining chair for at least two weeks. However, there is tons of scar tissue that will need to be worked on, and I will be completely disconnected from my muscles…..again. So I plan to work with my PFPT.
- It is a huge financial investment (approx. 10,000) and even though my organs are basically exposed, insurance still says it is cosmetic. I need to find the right surgeon that understands my athletic goals and is also damn good at what he/she does. This doesn’t happen overnight!
I am the extreme. If you have a 3-4 finger Diastasis, or even if you have a 9-10 like me, please do not jump into surgery until you truly exhaust ALL of your options. Don’t settle for just one pelvic floor physical therapist assessment. Don’t listen to the surgeons that tell you there is no hope without surgery. Advocate for yourself. Never stop demanding answers. Gather your data. Network with other moms and professionals. If you don’t, then post surgery you might be left with new pelvic floor issues, a huge bill, and weeks of miserable recovery that all could have been avoided.