Start with My Story, Part 1.
I tried everything to fix my diastasis recti. Hell, after leaving unsatisfied from another personal training session and “failing” at a well known online program for the THIRD time, I studied for a year to become an ACSM personal trainer. I then studied to get certified as a pre/post natal specialist. I worked with a private Iyengar yoga teacher, three different personal trainers, multiple online mentors, and two different physical therapists. I took some anatomy and biology classes, and then read and read and read. I’m a compulsive researcher. It soothes me.
Wait, I’ve jumped too far ahead.
I forgot to mention the pee. I noticed the pee when my first baby was 10 months old and I was newly pregnant with my second baby. I vomited a dozen times a day for months (this happened with all three pregnancies). I kept on wetting myself when I vomited, and sometimes when I laughed or coughed, and definitely when I jumped, which all sucked, but I was super sick, so on the scale of suck, peeing myself actually wasn’t at the top. I ignored it.
And then I had my second traumatic delivery—second huge kid to get stuck in 1.5 years, second 3rd degree tear, but I now had the added advantage of having a cold while giving birth.
The acupuncturist I had desperately, and foolishly, seen as an unsuccessful way to induce labor told me not to worry about my pesky cold because my body wouldn’t let me be sick when giving birth. It would know to get better. She was wrong. About everything, actually.
I had a cough.
For weeks. That’s right. A giant baby with a giant head. An almost 3rd degree tear. And a cough. A couple weeks later I took out a handheld mirror and took a peek. I freaked out.
After the hyperventilating ended, I decided to ask my midwife about my nether regions at the 6 week checkup. She seemed unconcerned, but she was also like 25, so I made an appointment with a gynecologist.
This time I was told the truth: a moderate cystocele, aka a bladder prolapse. I wasn’t surprised. The internet had warned me about this diagnosis. This gynecologist gave me a referral to a women’s health physical therapist.
Physical therapists have different techniques.
This one did a lot of internal work, which is what it sounds like: Fingers up the vagina. Electrodes on the perineum. Learning how to relax. Learning how to contract. Learning about the different muscles.
Some of her advice contradicted my readings from other physical therapists (for example, I had devoured Diane Lee’s The Pelvic Girdle while going to the sessions), but overall, this actually helped.
Still, I adore second opinions, so I looked up another well known physical therapist a few hours drive from my house and paid out of pocket for her advice, which differed from that of the first physical therapist. But, overall, it helped too.
Unfortunately, I had to give up the idea of commuting to L.A. to see her again because I had gotten pregnant with the third kid. Cue the vomiting.
After two very scary vaginal births, I found a new doctor who encouraged a planned c-section.
Two shoulder dystocias were cause enough to label the third delivery as high risk.
I talked with this doctor a lot about my diastasis recti. I begged him to just sew it together while he was in there. He said it didn’t really work that way, especially because my gap extended from the pubic to the breast bone. He suggested I consult with a plastic surgeon and see if the surgeon could come to the c-section.
This surgeon politely told me I was crazy. No. He wouldn’t recommend that. If I wanted it to be fixed, I would need a real tummy tuck that would involve skinning my entire abdomen and sewing all the different levels.
That doesn’t sound like fun and I’d really like to not do that.
I probably won’t need to.
Before getting pregnant with my third child, the physical therapist had measured my gap around 2.5 finger-widths. This pleased me. I was concerned another pregnancy would make it bigger. But it didn’t. After all, my 8 pounder was my runt. My gynecologist told me afterwards that he had done a superficial sew of the bottom rectus abdominis during the surgery, but hadn’t been able to sew very far up without causing more harm than help.
Afterwards, I did notice a slightly smaller gap in the lower abdomen, about 1 finger width, which probably affected my recovery. But then again, the rectus abdominis naturally narrows toward the pelvis. My midline and upper abdomen were still 2.5 or 3 finger-widths, depending on when I measured.
Although recovering from a c-section hurts– a lot– it hurt less than recovering from a 3rd degree tear. And I recovered function much faster than with the other two.
Also, this time I had consolidated all the information from over the years to create a day by day recovery plan, starting from the hours after the c-section.
But I know what you really want to hear.
Even though I didn’t close the gap, how did I decrease it? And how did I stop peeing myself? Because I did. I can even run and jump in peace these days (although I don’t do a ton of either because it’s not like my organs just magically returned to their original places).
Read Part III.