“A few weeks late, was the signal that something was off” said my friend Emma when she broke the news to me. Emma (longtime friend and colleague) is a mother of 2 (soon to be three) and former Abdominal Connections mom. She was diagnosed with a 3 finger diastasis separation after her 2nd baby a year and a half ago. Now recovered, she was understandably anxious and concerned about reinjuring her diastasis. She’s not alone. Many mothers have expressed the same concerns after finishing their rehabilitation, and planning to expand their family. So here it is: yes, there is a high probability that you will have diastasis recti if you were already diagnosed with one after/during your previous pregnancy, but don’t fret, keep reading…
Expectations lead to disappointments
Certain of “last trimester bed rest”; like so many of us experienced with severe diastasis, she took all the precautions available to her, including pulling out her Abdominal Connections Phase One package (a gift from me after the birth of her 2nd baby). Much to her relief, 3 of the 6 Steps could still assist her during her 3rd pregnancy; Massage/Moisturize/Exercise. Once she got the ok from her OBGYN, Emma began a modified 3 Step Program that allowed her to strengthen her Transverse Abdominis muscle and help support the weight of her growing tummy throughout her pregnancy. Following my recommended schedule, Emma was able to maintain a 20-minute workout routine, 4-6 days a week (totally motivated) and 20-30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times a week (walking through the park). We both monitored her progress closely and by the end of her 2nd trimester her diastasis was minimal. She had less back pain than with her previous 2 pregnancies, which is awesome! And less weight gain. However, one week into her third trimester she had to stop cardio/walking due to pubic bone pain (common during pregnancy when the relaxin hormone loosens the ligaments of the pelvis and creates more flexibly; sometimes creating too much movement in the pubic symphysis can result in painful inflammation). Emma would not be discouraged. We modified her routine to include more elevator Kegels and focused on strengthening her pelvic floor muscles (See Kegels & More on our website) while attempting to master muscular control and stamina.
Expectations lead to disappointments
Emma went into labor 9 days early. At the beginning of the week she had expressed concerns about the actual labor and delivery. Because diastasis often changes the position of the uterus during labor (moving the baby forward toward the weakened abdominal wall), it takes longer to deliver because the abdominal muscles are not able to function properly while pushing, and gravity cannot assist as well. Visualization was the key for Emma, her doula helped her create imagery and visualize the journey of the baby though the birth canal, she also reminded her to use her Deeper Transverse Abdominis muscle rather than relying on her rectus abdominis only for pushing. Two hours after entering the hospital Emma and baby Miles Grey were resting comfortably, and busy falling in love (Awww). At her 6 week postpartum checkup Emma was diagnosed with a 2 finger diastasis separation, one finger less than her previous pregnancy. She attributes this to using the AC Binder as soon as she was able to, and then slowly taking on more steps from the program including heat, and finally after 6 months, the EMS (Electric muscle stimulator belt) but by then she was a healthy 1.5 fingers and only used it when she was unable to get to the gym. Congratulations to Emma! on her brave, carefully calibrated pregnancy, and her commitment to using the Abdominal Connections Program throughout her pregnancy. For those of you of you in Emma’s position, expanding your family after diastasis is not only feasible but totally achievable.
I think we can expect great things from taking on the challenge.