I’ve never had strong stomach muscles, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I ended up with this condition. I was a cheerleader and did a lot of jumps and back bends and such that put a lot of stress on those muscles. To try to tighten them, I did crunches. Pregnancy and large babies only made the problem more obvious.
However, it wasn’t until my last pregnancy that I became hopeless that these muscles would ever heal. During my pregnancy with Garin (who would turn out to be an overdue 11 pounder), I noticed I could actually see my internal organs moving below the surface of my skin and I could feel the muscles pulling on either side of my belly. In addition to that, I carried bigger than ever and my OB said my uterus had actually flipped over, putting me at risk for yet another C-section.
All through the years I had only made half-hearted attempts at The Tupler Technique„¢. I had done fairly well despite the fact I was not consistent; however, in the back of my head I figured I would eventually have to resort to surgery and I sort of leaned on that option. In many ways, it seemed easier.
But after the plastic surgeon told me he couldn’t do anything for me until after I was done having children and even then didn’t think it would be the fix I would need, I resigned myself to finding a way to conceal my tummy and just live life fielding comments about when the next baby was due.
That’s when I found the Donjoy brace. It covered my belly, pulled the muscles together and concealed fairly well. But once the brace was off, nothing had changed. The brace didn’t fix anything…it just made it less noticeable.
I also decided losing weight would help some as well. I dropped 20 pounds and looked like this:
For those of you who do not suffer from this and do not realize the depth of the issue, let me just give you a run down of what it has meant for me (and if you really want to get a good grasp of diastasis recti, read the comments on some of these posts…they will make you cry).
- Clothes that don’t fit right – You either buy a size larger so it will go OVER your belly, or you wear something that goes UNDER your belly and deal with the “potbelly” look. Wearing skirts has made this a little easier as there are some great looks out there with elastic in the waist.
- Maternity clothes that are never big enough – My belly gets so big and hangs down so low because I have no muscles to hold my uterus in place (more on that later). That makes finding tops and bottoms to fit is nearly impossible in later pregnancy.
- A uterus held up by nothing but skin – As I mentioned above, my uterus nearly flipped over. No feet in the ribs here…baby’s feet stick straight out! To turn over in bed, I had to hold my belly or else what little muscle I had left (which were now completely off to each side of my belly) would feel like they were tearing and burning. No support garment was enough to hold the uterus in place, so my OB told me when I went into labor, I would need to pull back on my uterus so baby could engage.
- Lack of labor pattern – Since the DR has gotten really bad, I have struggled to pull together a decent labor pattern. With the uterus out of position, it is very difficult to get labor going.
- Internal organs just below the skin – My muscles are separated and my connective tissues are nearly non-existent. When I first began this program, as I checked for the size of my DR, my fingers could go quite deep into my belly. Sometimes eating would make me nauseous and sometimes sleeping in a certain position would make my insides cramp for hours afterward.
So, as you can see it isn’t simply vanity or pride that drives my desire to heal. This condition isn’t just about how you look.
So, because I know you are all on the edge of your seat wondering how my first week went, let me give you a quick rundown…
This was my profile picture from Day 1:
I watched the DVD and practiced putting on the splints (remember, I have to wear 2).
Here’s what those look like on me:
My diastasis was 10+ finger-widths with deeply damaged connective tissue. When putting on the brace, I had to really move those muscles into place before strapping the velcro. I wear the brace 24 hours a day except for very rare occasions.
The exercises didn’t seem too difficult to start with, but as I kept doing them and made sure I was doing them slowly enough, they were definitely a workout! I did them whenever I could sneak them in (even though Julie recommends you take time out to get away from everything).
A couple of days into it I felt a little nauseous from my insides being held in a position they had not been in in years! Thankfully, Julie warns of this on the video!
One thing happened I was not prepared for, though…
I got grouchy!
I felt bound up. I felt restricted. I felt like I might explode! I got very grouchy with the children and with the splint and the exercises themselves. It was a moment of…
I don’t want to do this!
This is too hard!
(and it was only Day 2!)
And then I got the flu.
So, for about 36 hours, something around my belly was out of the question. Perhaps that was enough time to collect my thoughts and emotions or perhaps I was reminded of morning sickness and WHY I am doing this, but no matter what it was, I put the splint back on as soon as I was well and never looked back!
And one week later, the difference is UNDENIABLE…
Take a look at the side by side from Day 1 to Day 7 (remember, BOTH of these picture are WITHOUT the splint on):
I was shocked and THRILLED! I even think my posture looks a little better without so much out in front to hold up. By the way, I have not lost any more weight (hoping to come off a plateau I’ve been on!) and I am not doing any exercises except for The Tupler Technique„¢ (as required by the program). So, the 2¾” I’ve lost have been ALL because of strengthening my tummy muscles!
As for the diastsis itself, I did not feel any change in finger-width, but did feel a difference in the depth, so that means my connective tissue is healing!
If you are doing this with me, please let me know how you are doing! And I hope this is as encouraging to you as it has been for me!