Three years past the birth of my twins, I finally worked out why I look like I do. I realised I have diastasis recti. But what is diastasis recti, and how does it affect you?
I’m obviously not a medical professional, so this post is purely my own experience. There’ll be no medical jargon here!
What is Diastasis Recti?
Simply put, diastasis recti is when your abdominal muscles separate, usually (and in my case) due to pregnancy. More often than not because you’ve carried multiples.
Whilst the muscles will fuse back together following the birth of your baby in lots of cases, it appears that two thirds of women will not be that lucky.
They will be left with a gap between their muscles – diastasis recti.
If you just want to skip straight to the bit about how to self test if you have diastasis recti, then follow the instructions on this video.
How Did I Work Out I Had Diastasis Recti?
Three years after the twins had been born, I was STILL being asked “when’s the baby due?”. THREE YEARS AFTER!
It’s one of the most embarrassing things to be asked this, when you are in fact not pregnant. Since the boys were born I struggled to lose weight. Granted, I never made too much of an effort to. But that is because whenever I did try, it never seemed to make much difference to my mum tum. So I figured, why bother?
In all my life I’ve never felt so disgusting. I looked fat and I looked pregnant (honestly, I looked around five months pregnant, maybe more!) – and people noticed this and commented. Who wants to be commented on about their weight?? No one.
There’s not much you can say to people when they ask when your non existent baby is due, except “ummm, I’m not pregnant…”. Cue a whole lot of embarrassment for you and for them. I can’t blame them really. I did in fact look pregnant.
Aside from how I looked, there were a whole lot of other factors that added to my issue. I FELT pregnant, and had all the typical pregnancy ailments.
A little waddle when walking and not feeling able to walk very far anyway, at least not without getting a stitch, or more back pain; needing to turn to the side when washing the dishes, because my stomach wouldn’t allow for fully front facing the kitchen sink; I couldn’t sit up straight from lying down – I had to roll onto my side and push myself up from there; and a permanent bad back.
There were lots more things.
Taking To The Internet
So, I took to the internet to find out if anyone else was in the same situation as me, looking and feeling pregnant way past the birth of their children.
I must have googled every search term possible, trying to find others. “Still looking pregnant after birth” etc.
Eventually, after a long while I should point out, I eventually stumbled upon the words ‘Diastasis Recti’. I dug a little deeper, and couldn’t believe that everything I read about it, was like it was describing me!
I found a video of how to do a self test at home (see the one above), and found I could easily fit four fingers in between my abdominal muscles – maybe even a fifth! That is a huge gap! All the other symptoms of diastasis recti seemed to fit in with me too.
Finally! Finally I had something I could work with. A reason I looked and felt like I did. I wasn’t alone.
What Did I Find Out?
Everything I was reading was saying about different exercise programmes aimed at people with issues like mine; diastasis recti experts with their own exercise regimes. Some people wore special corset type things, aimed at diastasis recti sufferers. Some people had surgery to bring the muscles back together. But as always advised, in the first instance you should go and see your GP.
So I went to my GP. I told her that I had self diagnosed myself as having diastasis recti, and wanted to know what to do next.
It was a very very emotional visit. To be honest, I’d never discussed my feelings about myself with anyone until then. Telling someone all about how this was affecting me was such a relief. It was actually a surprise! I didn’t even realise myself, until I started talking about it in depth.
My GP was brilliant; very understanding and patient. She listened and made notes, while I cried and told my story. Diastasis recti was affecting me way more than I had realised it was!
She told me that she will refer me for a scan and an abdominal ultrasound. She did warn me that getting an abdominal ultrasound was notoriously difficult, and may be refused based on just a GP referral. Now I just had to wait up to six weeks to find out my scan and ultrasound date, if indeed I got it at all.
Not Gonna Happen
After seven or eight weeks, I still hadn’t heard anything. So I rang the hospital to make sure they had received my GP referral. They had received it, but as warned, they had refused to do the ultrasound and as a result hadn’t booked me in for the scan either. They told me they had let my GP know.
I rung my GP and her assistant told me I’ll need to book another appointment to see her. Now, as is always the case with me, I am always at the bottom of my priority pile, and life with twins took over.
When I eventually went back to the GP, she told me that they had refused, so she was going to have to refer me to see the General Surgeons for them to assess whether I was a suitable candidate for the scan and ultrasound.
It’s going to take up to 6 months to wait to just see the GS, never mind how long it’s going to take to actually have the scans if I am approved!
Then I Got Appendicitis
About four months into my wait, I got very severe appendicitis. I’m talking a perforated, dead appendix; a major stomach infection; gangrene; dehydration; vomiting – the works basically. Everything that could be bad about appendicitis, I had. Apparently had I left it much longer to go to the doctors then I would have risked death.
It was too far gone for me to have keyhole surgery (the normal procedure to remove your appendix), so I had to have open surgery.
This meant them cutting down the centre of my stomach and going in through my abdomen muscles to get the appendix. They then meshed my muscles back together – similar to what they do when repairing diastasis recti.
It’s now been eight weeks. Just this week I had my post surgery check up. It’s healed well, and they are happy with my progress.
I asked about the fact that I’m still on the waiting list to see the General Surgeon about my diastasis recti. In my mind, I’ve had all the scans, x-rays & ultrasounds available by now, with my appendicitis treatment. I’ve had some of my muscles already meshed back into place.
I wanted to know, is this it now? Or are some of my muscles still separated? Will I still need treatment? But the consultant didn’t want to know. She basically told me that the NHS would never treat me for diastasis recti – no surgery (regardless of the surgery I’ve just had), and I wouldn’t get physiotherapy either.
Her attitude was cold, and uncaring. I felt she just wanted to move me on.
This is something that’s been affecting me for over three and a half years. I just want help, and some compassion. I want someone who understands what this is doing to me, and who can offer guidance and support.
So as it stands, I’m still waiting to see the General Surgeon about my diastasis recti. As it’s so soon since my appendix surgery, I can’t tell if what they did will have solved my DR problem or not… I still look more or less the same at this point. If it has solved it then that’s great! If not, then I still want help.
Whether I’ll get it or not is another thing. Now it’s just a waiting game. But to be honest, I don’t feel very hopeful. We’ll see.
Also check out: “When’s the baby due?” Ummm, I’m not pregnant!
Do you have, or have you had, diastasis recti? How have you dealt with it? Have you had help and support from the medical profession?
Or do you think you may have it and would like to ask me anything? Please do let me know in the comments.