Beyond “losing the baby weight” — diastasis recti

I had my second child nine months ago, and I’m one of those annoying people that loses lots of weight while breastfeeding, so I’ve been back in my normal clothes for a few months now, lower than my pre-pregnancy weight, etc. But as the weight came off everywhere else, I couldn’t help but notice that my belly just didn’t seem to be shrinking like the rest of my body. I tried to be patient with my body for several months, but something just seemed off.

To start with, I’ve always been shaped like a pear, not an apple, so being thicker around the middle just didn’t seem like my normal body composition. And it wasn’t just a flabby gut, it was like my stomach muscles were sticking out way further than they should be. I have to admit, there was a wee bit of vanity going on, too. Basically, I felt like I was in the awkward stage of pregnancy where your normal clothes don’t fit but maternity clothes are like a tent.

I started researching online and discovered that ab separation, or diastasis recti, is fairly common after pregnancy. A lot of people hear me talk about this and assume it’s a horizontal separation from my abs being cut during my c-section. (They don’t actually cut your abs, FYI.) But this is a vertical split down the middle of your “6-pack abs” (rectus abdominus).

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Diastasis recti is caused by the weakening of the inner layer of abdominal muscles called the transverse abdominus, that runs horizontally around your trunk like a corset and holds everything in, underneath the ab muscles you’re probably more familiar with, like the obliques and “6-pack” muscles. Without the strength of that underlying transverse muscle, my reasonably strong outer ab muscles just splay out and give me that 2nd trimester look, as well as cause lower back/upper glute pain. (From what I understand, the weak abs put more strain on the back to compensate.)

I did the test that I found online to check if I had it, and by my measurements I had about a 4-finger-width separation. (It should be zero.). I called my OB’s office to ask what I should do about it, and after disagreeing with the nurse’s over-the-phone assessment that I’d probably need surgery…(I’ve had two c-sections, that’s quite enough surgery for me)…she spoke with the doctor and he referred me to a physical therapist.

the physical therapist confirmed that I have a 4-4.5 finger gap, and that this is a legitimate medical issue — I’m not just being vain about my stomach being poochy!  She said that left untreated, the gap can widen, especially when you try to do traditional ab workouts.  I’ve had four PT sessions so far, and my exercises are mostly squeezing core muscles, either my abs or my back, and squats. Crunches actually make it worse, and my PT recommended to avoid most core work (planks etc) until I closed the gap to at least 2 finger widths.

I am still able to run, but I’m really supposed to pay attention to keeping good posture/alignment, and she recommended not doing long distances because generally you get too tired to keep your core engaged.

After learning so much about diastasis recti, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much more common than most people realize. I hope that sharing my experience here might help someone else.

I took some pictures of myself at the beginning of my PT, but I don’t quite have a successful “before and after” to share with you yet.  I’ve heard it can take anywhere from a few months to a year to fully close the gap.  I’ll keep you updated!

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Back to Work (after baby) Checklists

back to work

My list-making brain was on overdrive last weekend as I prepared to go back to work after being home on maternity leave for 6 weeks. I’m sharing my lists in the hopes that someone else can benefit from my obsessiveness and find a little peace as they’re getting ready to head back to work.

Pumping stuff
Pump and pump parts
Storage bottles and/or bags
Towel
Extra pieces (membranes, etc)
Cooler bag
Ziplock bag for storing pump parts in fridge during the day
Masking tape and Sharpie marker for labeling bottles/bags
Small cooler bag for transporting milk

Babysitter stuff
Diapers
Extra clothes
Pacifier
Bottles
Milk
Program your babysitter’s phone number into your phone and make it a favorite so it’s easy to find.

Stuff for you
Pick out your clothes the night before (try them on to make sure they fit!)
Set up coffee maker
Pack lunch & healthy snacks – don’t forget stuff you normally keep at your desk, it’s probably time to restock since you’ve been gone a while
Pack workout bag (wishful thinking?)
Figure out what you’re having for breakfast in the morning (I pre cooked a big batch of steel cut oats and hard boiled eggs for my first week back.)
Pack backpack for older kiddo
Baby photos — everyone will ask to see them!

Going back to work can be really stressful! I hope these lists can bring you a little peace if you’re trying to get ready to go back to work and you don’t know where to begin.

Linking up with Dinosaur Superhero Mommy’s Let’s Get Organized Blog Hop 6.

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Baby pic!

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Baby day!

IMG_1441If all goes according to plan, I will be in surgery delivering my new baby about the time this post goes live! I’ll be back in a few days to say hello and post some pictures. I may be a bit scarce around these parts for a while after the baby comes, but I’ll try not to disappear completely. There was about a year when I didn’t blog at all after my older son was born, and I hate not having a record of daily life from that time.

I’ll see you later!

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“I wish I had a pillow like this in mine bed”

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Prenatal Yoga

Photo Credit: C Simons via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: C Simons via Compfight cc

I have absolutely loved taking prenatal yoga classes during my pregnancy. It has really helped me with a variety of pregnancy-related ailments, from learning how to reduce swelling in my hands and feet, to relieving back/hip pain, to making suggestions about natural ways to reduce heartburn (apple cider vinegar all the way, baby!)

Last week, my yoga teacher gave us homework to do at least ten minutes of restorative poses before bed each night.  The ones I can remember are queen’s pose, side lying pose, and something where you sit in front of a chair with a cushion on the seat and lean your forehead against it (sounds weird but it is strangely calming.)

Queen’s pose is my favorite one. It uses a zillion props and is kind of hard to replicate at home, but I’m doing my best and it is a really relaxing way to end the day — even though I am terrible at not letting my mind drift off to something going on the next day, my to-do list, etc.

Namaste!

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Twitterature & nursery pic!

twitterature-graphic1Today I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to tell you about the books I’ve been reading this month, in 140 characters or less.

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs investigates the mysterious death of a controversial artist and his eccentric high-society family. I love how she weaves a mystery into a little-known piece of post-WW1 England.

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler.  This book applies success hacks from biz, econ, & military to families.  Good read, but probably better for families with kids over 5.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news, I finally got the pictures hung in the nursery. It only took me three tries to get the last picture to hang even with the others.  (Sheesh.)  There is a rocking chair on the other side of that little table, and a dresser with changing pad on the other side of the chair.  It’s harder than you’d think to take a picture of a small room!

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Pregnancy Update – 36.5 weeks

IMG_1434also known as… 17 days to go. Whoa.

For the most part, I’m still feeling pretty good. I seem to have conquered my heartburn with liberal doses of kombucha and water laced with Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. Other than that, my only real complaint is that I can barely bend over (to tie my shoes, pick up something off the floor, etc) without feeling like my big hard belly is jamming into my ribcage.

If the baby came today, I think we would more or less be “ready.”  (As much as one can ever be, right?)  That being said, I keep coming up with more and more things that I need to do before the baby arrives.  Some of these are more practical/necessary than others… understatement of the year.  Welcome to the strange inner workings of my pregnancy-addled brain.

  • Get a haircut
  • Get my son’s hair cut
  • Install car seat (we already have it, it’s just still sitting in our basement)
  • Hang pictures in nursery (they are in frames, laying on the floor)
  • Get some extra crib sheets (otherwise baby and big brother are sharing two sheets and two mattress covers between them — hope nobody has an accident!)
  • Hang curtains in guest room (my mom might appreciate this when she comes to help with the baby!)
  • Hang curtains in master bedroom (other than the fact that my neighbors would probably appreciate this (!) it would certainly be nice if I ever plan to sleep during the day)
  • Wash/prep cloth diapers (I am highly skeptical that I’ll really keep up with cloth-diapering, but I thought I’d give it a try while I am home on maternity leave)
  • Pack a bag for the hospital
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June goals in review & July goals

Goals buttonSo how did I do on those June goals?

  • Finish cleaning out the nursery closet and get all nursery furniture moved into place – B.  I ended up declaring a truce with some boxes and leaving them in the closet for now.  How much closet space does a baby really need, anyway?  Nursery furniture is all in place!
  • Sew binding onto baby quilt.  B.  I actually finished this, then realized the tension on my sewing machine was screwed up AGAIN and ripped about half of it out.  I ended up sending it home with my mom, with a plea for her to finish it for me.
  • Keep working on eating less sugar.  Hmm… hard to say.  The office candy dish called my name pretty strongly a few days, but for the most part I’ve been sticking to healthier sweets and not too many.
  • Keep up the exercise.  A+!
  • Learn how to use the manual settings on my camera.  C.  I’ve been reading a photography book and upgraded my camera phone (thank you Best Buy iPhone trade-in!)  Does that count for anything?  I haven’t spent too much time playing with my DSLR camera this month.

And now for July…this is baby crunch-time, so forgive me if these goals are kind of boring and overly baby-focused.

  • Hang pictures in nursery
  • Plan & cook some meals to stock our freezer
  • Get as much sleep as possible – try to get to bed before 10:30 every night
  • Pack a hospital bag & diaper bag… (okay, find the diaper bag first, then pack it!)  I am way too relaxed about this stuff the second time around!
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28 Weeks

922451_624097147619227_1573956795_oHere we are… 28 1/2 weeks down, 10 1/2 weeks to go.  We still don’t have a nursery set up at all, but I did get a car seat and baby clothes from a coworker earlier this week, so that’s progress.  And some friends are throwing me a diaper shower in about a month, so that pretty much covers all the essentials, right?

I’m at that sweet spot in pregnancy where I definitely look pregnant, not just odd-shaped or fat, so people are extra nice to me, but I’m not at all uncomfortable yet.  I am still able to exercise on a regular basis and *most* of my maternity clothes still fit.  (Yes, I actually put on a shirt this morning that was too short already!  I sure hope I can find enough decent-looking clothes to make it through a work week by the end of this pregnancy!)

I haven’t really gotten any crazy food cravings (other than mustard), but I think my sweet tooth is on high alert.  The main thing I miss being able to do it have a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day.  And a Jimmy John’s Beach Club sandwich sounds pretty awesome too, but I’ve already made arrangements for a friend to bring one to the hospital for me.

I had my follow-up ultrasound last week and everything is looking great.  They could even see hair on the baby’s head, which I find kind of amazing.

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