Diastasis Recti and our PostPartum Mega Belly: Exercise Do’s and Don’ts

“Wow! I didn’t know you’re pregnant,” a friend excitedly beamed. Well, I’m not. This has been a constant source of embarrassment for me and a good number of people, from well meaning friends and acquaintances to massage attendants and theme park staff.

You see I am small-medium sized in all parts of my body except for my tummy which is ginormously big. It started after I gave birth to my first child and went down hill from there, increasing in size with every child. I have been trying to lose it for the longest time. I have been diligently going to the gym for 15 years now, doing cardio work, muscle strength and doing hundreds of crunches and planks, and yet the pouch remains bigger than ever!

I finally decided to wave the white flag and visited a cosmetic surgeon to help me. He said I have a condition called “diastasis recti.”

What is Diastasis Recti?

It is the separation (diastasis) of the abdominal muscle (recti abdominus), usually caused by pregnancy.  According to Baby Center, the rectus abdominis (the "six-pack muscles") holds the internal organs and stabilizes the core.  The separation leaves a gap that allows the belly to stick out.  You can read more about it at Baby Center.

Finding out if you have Diastasis Recti  

You can try watching the video below to find out if you have diastasis recti. Mine is as big as 4 fingers. Yep, that bad.

How to Correct Diastasis Recti

The surgeon told me a liposuction, suctioning fat out, will not work because I don’t have that much fat to begin with. Naks!  He would have to do a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, a cosmetic surgery procedure that stitches the abdominal wall muscles back together along the midline. It also involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.  The long and short of it as my surgeon said, "Basta pwede ka na mag-bikini after."  Surgery is the surest and quickest way to heal Diastasis Recti.

I was game to do it and performed all the lab tests necessary to clear me for the operation but I chickened out at the end.

I’ll try to give myself another chance through diet and proper core exercise that addresses my diastasis recti. Apparently, crunches further separates my abdominal while planks let’s my tummy sag even more because of the gravity pull. Argghhh! After all these years!

Exercises to avoid:
- crunches
- planks
- avoid heavy lifting
- exercises that involve twisting the spine like oblique crunches
- lifting your body up from a lying down position (roll on your side instead to stand up)

Exercise do’s:
- pelvic tilt
- toe taps
- heel slides

Click this for more exercise do’s and don’ts.

Since I have done the do’s and don’ts people have noticed that my tummy isn't as big as before (I have before and after photos, kaso baka mawalan kayo ng respeto sa akin hehe).  But it's not enough para mag-bikini. As in, malayo pa!  And I don't think I'll ever get to that even if I correct my diastasis recti thru exercise because of all the loose skin.  I think nothing beats surgery pa rin because it can completely close the diastasis recti so flat tummy plus it will remove excess skin so no hanging skin.  Super tempting but I'm a scaredy-cat.

I amped my exercise routine and recently purchased Mutu System. It is an online program that is meant to guide me for 12 weeks to hopefully give me more significant results. I’ll let you know of the progress in a few weeks time.

Crossing my Fingers!

TheGoMom

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