Diastasis Rectified

My journey to heal postpartum diastasis recti

About

Tamales after a workout, 8 months

Tamales (my favorite!) after a workout, 8 months

During my pregnancy I didn’t let much stop me. I was the most rotund gym bunny at the YMCA (which reminds me of the time my husband honestly asked me, “who’s Jim Bunnie?”). I ate well, stayed positive, lived in the moment, took lots of naps, and read everything I could about healthy pregnancies. I read a study that said only 11% of women who exercised during pregnancy got a diastasis recti, so I barely even considered it a risk. In retrospect, I would not have been doing side arm balances at 8 months. Pregnancy is not a contest and I am surely not the winner if it were.

My prize for being Most Prepared was two days of labor, 6 hours of pushing, and organs spilling out all over the place afterward (oh, and I got the tiniest, cutest BFF). At my 8 week appointment – right after the world’s longest PAP clumsily performed by a resident in training – the doctor told me I had a diastasis recti and would need surgery if I ever wanted a flat stomach again. She told me to wait until my last kid and she’d just do a C-section and the surgery at the same time. (!!) She told me to do 10 kegels three times a day to keep all the rest of my innards in and stop that whole incontinence business. She presented this data as if she had told me I had a common cold and should take two pills and call her when I was ready for her to cut me open. I was devastated.

I tried to resume my normal life. I lifted weights at the gym and felt that I had 40% of the strength I used to have. My guts were doming out of me like a giant hotdog whenever I tried to do my normal activities. I was having serious snapping pain and numbness in my upper back and constant headaches. My former exercise teachers were full of misinformation and bad advice. It was clear this was going to take something my doctor and my gym could not offer me.

After some googling, I found Wendy Powell’s Mutu System. It was a ray of light in the midst of the discouragement. I created this blog to help track my progress and hopefully find some other mamas in the same boat. In the midst of the first two months of the program, I found that I was coming up against some roadblocks. I was doing the exercises but was in some serious back pain along my upper spine. Things just didn’t feel right. I felt like Mutu was great (and I’m still working on getting through the program!) but the investigator in me needed more. I needed the whys behind Mutu so that I could understand what was not working for me and how to fix it.

Enter Katy Bowman, bless her. Many of Wendy’s exercises are based on Katy’s research as a biomechanist. Biomechanists study the human body as a machine and Katy has developed a system of movement and therapeutic exercises to address many problems, but her thesis research was all around pregnancy and postpartum health for women. You can learn more at the Restorative Exercise Institute. I have found Katy’s work so influential in helping me understand why things aren’t working, and that they likely weren’t working well before I even got pregnant, that I’ve signed up for her certification program.

SO, all that to say, I am still on my road to recovery. I still have a gap, even though I’m finally feeling stronger now that I’m two years out. I am finally not incontinent, though, and thankful for some progress! I still look in the mirror sideways every morning and wonder, “did it get smaller today?” I’m working on not feeling compelled to do that. Patience. Grace. Acceptance. A lot of that going on daily to combat the Frustration, Pain, and Sadness.

Can you resonate with any of this? If so, please join me! I do not want to go this road alone and I hope that I can help other women by passing on the things I’m learning as I put the pieces back together.

Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me,

Emily

26 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m so happy you found my blog and I am excited to follow yours! Your updates will be a great motivator for me. Wishing you all the best in healing your DR! – Jamie

  2. Hi there! I’m so excited to have found your blog. I too am trying to heal my diastasis after 2 babies, each over 9 lbs. I’m at week 6 on the Mutu system and have hit a serious slump, but I’m feeling motivated again after reading your blog. Now I’m wondering if I have some alignment issues too. Thanks again!

    • Hey Kirsten! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving comments. 🙂 How have things been going? It can be really hard to stay motivated, particularly right in the middle. I think I’m going to write some posts on that because I am in no way a self-starter. More of a drifter on the tide of the inertia of my life. 😉 Anyway, I hope you are feeling good about where you are and slogging through the slump successfully. Let’s slog together.

      • Sadly, I fell off the wagon big time. I’m now just trying to fit some squats in during the day and remember my alignment. My 17 month old is kicking my butt, and so did all the Easter candy 😦 Some days it feels like it will never get better… hope you’re faring better than I am!

  3. After countless hours searching Internet about DR I have found your blog. I can relate to EVERYTHING that has happened to you (including very long labor and aftermath) . Thank you very much for sharing all the info. I am going to start MUTU next week. really, really want to fit in my pre pregnancy clothes this summer.

  4. Hi! You are so not alone! I just fell in love with Katy Says. Want to learn everything and fix my body. And I like your blog, good work!!!
    I have two kids, didn’t gain much weight (less than 8 kg), it is all gone now, plus some muscle weight. But I sure look pregnant. So I’m your follower (in Norway!)

    • Thanks, Sally! I am so glad you found me. 🙂 Isn’t KatySays.com the greatest? She is brilliant. How has it been going for you? What all have you been trying? I’d love to hear about your experience if you have a few minutes to share. The more information we have as a community, the more hope to heal!

  5. Hi there–love that you are doing a blog on this! I am 9 weeks post partum with my first. Your story sounds familiar! I am a Pilates instructor, even certified in pre/post natal Pilates. So I was quite confident that I was doing everything right to prep for a great birth and prevent DR. Wrong. 37 hours of labor with no progress resulted in a c-section, and then to add insult to injury, I have a 3.5-4 finger DR! I thought about trying to heal myself, but decided I needed someone else guiding me, so that’s how I came to Mutu. I am on week 2, but actually started a few weeks ago, but am sticking to weeks 1 and two until I hit 12 weeks post partum, as the program instructs for c-section mamas. Some days I am really optimistic and confident that I am going to heal this with no problem, other days I am really bummed that this happened and frustrated that my body can’t move yet like it used to. Persistence and patience! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Hey Beccaroo! Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I was so confident, like you, that I was doing it all right too. It’s frustrating when I think about the uninformed voices I was listening to that led me to more injury. And by frustrating I mean infuriating. I just wanted to check in and see how things are going. Did you end up finishing Mutu or trying another route? I hope you’ve been experiencing healing!

  6. Just wanted to say thank you so much for your blog! It’s very encouraging to read your story, and your writing is very entertaining! I am 10 mos PP and finally getting serious about fixing my DR …starting Mutu (AGAIN…dropped off as soon as I started to see results after 2 weeks at 6 mos PP lol…but NOT going to do that this time!). I’ve had posture problems since forever but never knew exactly what I was doing wrong…and DR + hernia has forced me to address it. Like you, I REALLY want to know the science behind everything so I can take my health into my own hands. I am so happy to find the Restorative Exercise source you recommended, but will have to wait to delve in til their site is back up!

    • Lely! I just wanted to check in and see how things were going. Did you end up finishing Mutu or looking more into Restorative Exercise? All the best to you in your healing journey. We’re all in this together. 🙂

  7. I am so incredibly happy that I found your blog. I have alternating days of boundless joy about being a mother to the greatest little baby girl and being devastated/embarassed by how truly lumpy, unfit and unatractive I am at 16 weeks postpregnancy. I have always been used to being fit and probably took a little too much pride in the fact that I was slim and regularly walked and jogged right up to having my daughter. I also regularly went to my prenatal yoga classes and listened to all of the talk about Diastasis with a look of understanding but a smug certainty that such issues would not be my problem. Just like in your photos, I carried my daughter very high and sticking straight out. After 53 hours of labor and then a c-section, I was anxious to “be myself again”, get back in shape and put the huge belly existence behind me. I began running at 5 weeks PP, running up to 5 miles a day but I continued to look 6 months pregnant no matter what I did. I then started doing research and realized what had happened/was happening. I had a 3 fingerwidth gap and a massive buldge when I crunched up. I called the midwives who advised me to do as many crunches as I could tolerate (!!!) and if that didn’t work I would need surgery (which could not be performed before my next baby and likely would not be covered by insurance – great news all around, right?). I have since spent nights looking at internet posts of women who bounced back from pregnancy to look like a million bucks simply by “taking walks around the block and breastfeeding”. Needless to say, this has all been hard for me to take and left me feeling guilty about even feeling bad when I have such a beautiful, healthy baby. I want to be proud of how I look and what I can accomplish again but it has felt like that will never happen. Your blog is really the first bit of brightness I have found since this all started. I am so grateful. Thank you.

    • Lisa! I heart everything about your honest and lovely comment. I’m sorry it took me sixteen years to respond to it. I’ve been doing some blog avoidance because I’ve been so panicked about my studying. 😐 I got overwhelmed with everything I didn’t know yet and then felt like I had nothing to add. Anyway, I think I’m over that mental hurdle now. All that to say, thank you thank you for coming by. I want to give those midwives a talking to. And I totally relate on the pride issue. I don’t think I realized how much body pride I had until I looked like I had been pounding six packs. How has your search for answers been going? How are you feeling?

  8. Thank you so much for your warm, yet frank discussions about this subject. I had my first child during the summer of 2012 and am about to have my second next spring. I’m really worried about my body. The OB says that I look healthy, and aside from terrible pre eclampsia during labor (that resulted in an emergency cesarean), my situation does not seem as dire as some. I realize that I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone and strength, and I don’t want things to get any worse. Thank you for allowing us to share this journey with you.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Tiao. I think especially when birth experiences are traumatic and recovery after doesn’t look like what we expected, subsequent births can be a lot more daunting. You are not alone!

  9. Hello! I am a 40y.o. mother of 3. Last one was born 5 months ago. All my life I was very slim ( xs or 0 in US sizing). I still fit my size 25 jeans but I have a big pot belly thanks to DR. I hide it under baggy tops or wear Spanks.
    I also found frustrating that doctors, private trainers, yoga teachers and even post -pregnancy certified Pilates teachers know nothing about dealing with DR. Not only they don’t know how to fix DR but could not even recommend a safe way of exercising for someone with stomach split in halve. Most exercise circle around getting slim, but getting slim is not an issue for me as I am sure for many others. Getting flat (flatfish) stomach and being able to return to my normal exercising routine will be great.
    I did a fair amount of research into DR and also a lot of different exercise and diets. I think that the fact that a lot of people with DR were fit and did yoga and ballet before pregnancy explains that we have a muscles prone to easy stretching – great for both yoga and getting DR. I also think that certain foods make us more prone to bloating and simultaneously make our stomach muscles lack it tone.
    However after years of trying to mend my DR and I am sorry to say failing to do so I decided to go down surgery route. I don’t like an idea of a huge scar or a weirdly looking super flat stomach I may end up with but I equally don’t want DR to defy me on a daily basis.

  10. So happy to have found your blog…had twins 4 years ago and still have pooch…never understood why my tummy not flat because I am a very fit person..very upsetting to realize that i have been making problem worse with exercises I thought were helping…crunches, planks, push ups,etc…I am really determined now to try for a flatter stomach the right way…Now just worried that too late with all the damage I have done with “wrong” exercises…Thanks for all the information you have provided so far!

  11. Hello! I had my first baby in 2007 and have had an outie belly button and weak connective tissue ever since plus another baby in 2010. I started Mutu in June 2014 and followed it perfectly with no results – enter Katy Bowman. I met with one of her students over skype and found out that I was rib thrusting, I stopped Mutu and tried following restorative exercise in about September 2014. I never sit on chairs anymore, it seems that I’m pretty much doing what you’re doing and I’m pretty great at squatting now. My belly button is still out but I don’t wet myself anymore when jumping or running. It’s really great to find you, please keep blogging for the sake of people like me. I am hoping with all the restorative exercise and lifestyle movement changes that eventually my weak connective tissue will heal. I’m walking each day for an hour (scheduled) and use Xero shoes (have done for over 2 years now) and I also go outside to climb things just before lunch with the kids. We switch it up. Plus just generally moving in everything.
    My dream is to have my old belly button back 🙂 This blog is awesome!! I always wonder how is it that most women don’t have a diastasis except those on the internet that I meet like you 🙂

    • Jacqui, please forgive my super late response as I’m just getting back to the blog after a break to work on some personal stuff. Thank you so much! You sound like a force of nature! That outie belly button (which my husband fondly calls Toof…uggggh) is the thing I would most love to see recede back from whence it came, too! I would love to hear an update on how you are doing. 🙂

  12. I’m so glad I found this as I am in week 3 of MUTU and am really excited about all of the alignment stuff I am learning. My diastasis isn’t severe but my core function is less than optimal and an episiotomy with my first birth has left my pelvic floor weak. I’m finding this new way of thinking – “loving” my body and giving it love is the best program I’ve yet tried. I”m inspired by your story and will follow. Thank you for your alignment posts and for being real on this site!! Cheers!

  13. Hello! I am glad I found this blog. It is so helpful just knowing your not alone. I have 4 amazing children and a 4 finger width DR to boot!. I think I have a rectocele also but for sure some pelvic floor issues. And I’m only 31 years old! I feel like I am way too young to have all these issues. Now I struggle daily with how i look. I am 5’7″, and on the thinner side (130lbs) but look pregnant! I never realized the depths of my own vanity until all this. I found MUTU and was doing that but then started seeing a physical therapist who told me to stop doing all exercises except kegels. Well, it didn’t take long for me to feel like that was wrong but never went back to mutu because I didn’t know what the right approach was. So I decided I needed to figure out what was going on with my body. What caused this in the first place and what is really going to fix it? That’s when I found Katy says. At first her blog was like a foreign language. But now it’s making sense more and more. I finally feel like I understand why my body is rebelling against me! And for the last couple weeks have been working in earnest on posture and stretches. I used to rush through the mutu stretches thinking the exercises were the most important part. Now I understand that they were important! The only problem now is I find that I keep going back and forth between being hopeful and determined to being stressed and despairing. Have you or any of your blog readers actually found healing going this route? How long did it take to get there? I think if I knew for sure, it will take weeks/months/years, I could give myself reassurance and keep trudging along through this. It is very hard finding time to do all the stretches (I homeschool my 2 school aged children plus have a 4 yr old and an almost 2 yr old, my days are full and busy!!) to remember to keep my feet forward, ribs down, pelvis untucked, I have to remind myself constantly!! But I really want my body to heal! My husband and I would love more children but don’t want to get pregnant until my body is doing better. Anyway this comment is long enough! Any help would be really encouraging! Thanks again for your blog!!

    • Santina, I am so glad you came by and shared your story here! You sound like you are determined, busy, optimistic, and questioning – welcome to the club! 😉 I know this comment is late (I took a break from the blog to focus on some other things, but I’m back!), but I want to extend some hope to you and others who might be in your situation. Yes, I have/am finding healing through alignment, natural movement, and restorative exercise. Like you, Katy’s info is the only thing that made sense to me, and it made enough sense for me to go so far as getting certified! I find that many of the women I meet are discouraged and confused enough to just not try anymore, or not willing to make the level of changes that Katy talks about (barefoot shoes, 5 miles of walking a day, rewiring your brain to align your body differently, carrying children in arms, furniture free – it gets overwhelming really fast, and I’m the type of person to really try hard). So, I have a lot of those discouraged and doubting days, too. But I am finally in a spot where I know that I’m on the right path, I just need to keep moving forward and accept the discouraging days as part of the process. So, if you’ll stick with it, we can go through this process together! Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your story. 🙂

  14. This is me!! I just found your blog and am in the same boat. My 2nd child is 20 months now and I still look pregnant. I found you through Katy Bowman as well, who I just discovered. I feel like a detective trying to figure out what to do at this point going forward.

    • ND, you are not alone! I am still trying to get to the bottom of it all, but I am finally at a hopeful place because I feel like we can truly affect change in our bodies. Have you checked out Katy’s new book about DR? Thanks for stopping by!

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