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Splitting Abs During Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I went from looking not pregnant at all to looking like my stomach couldn’t get any bigger. Carrying twins does not generally make you look like a pregnancy model. I’m sure there are some women who can pull it off well, but I don’t think I was one of them.

Of course, I thought that once I delivered the babies my body would go right back to where it was before. And it did, well almost. My abdominal muscles were forever changed. I hadn’t realized this, but when you are pregnant, your abdominal muscles can split apart to accommodate the growing uterus. For most women, they go right back into place post pregnancy, but for me, they were split right down the middle, with about an inch-wide gap between them.

I finally figured it out when I was lying on the floor, on my back, and could feel the separation with my fingers. It explained why I had thrown my back out so badly when my girls were infants. I thought it was just from having a weak core, but it was much more than that. I proceeded to throw my back out many more times until I realized I just couldn’t do what I used to physically. I had previously had really strong abs, so much so that when my stomach first popped during my pregnancy around 4-5 months, it really hurt. Those tight muscles were really being pulled! They obviously, eventually, gave in. I had to learn to deal with what is officially called diastasis recti, or abdominal separation. It meant not working out as aggressively as I used to and accepting the fact that my previously strong body was now weakened. And when your core is weakened, it really can throw everything off with your body.

I had never had back problems before, and suddenly I was dealing with that, in addition to recurring sciatic nerve pain. I would describe it as a similar feeling to that of trying to walk around with pants on, but the pants are unzipped and not fastened. I noticed it more when I was sitting down or driving in the car. It would’ve been nice to have been informed that this could happen, but the reality is, there isn’t much that could’ve been done about it. There is a higher likelihood of it occurring from a pregnancy with multiples, like mine, though it can happen to women pregnant with singletons, too. Though there are some exercises that can help, the only way to actually fix the issue is with surgery.

I didn’t pursue that option after having my twins because I knew that I wanted to have one more child and pregnancy can ruin any results obtained by surgery. Given that diastasis recti is basically like a hernia that’s the entire length of your stomach, the surgery is generally covered by insurance. Getting this fixed is not a cosmetic issue for me – it is really about quality of life. I look forward to when this problem is finally resolved. I thought I would have fixed it by now, but who has time for elective abdominal surgery? I have three little kids and a business to run!

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