The Weirdest Thing About Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy

I never knew it could happen.

There I was, going about my merry first pregnancy, growing bigger by the day. After having my 9 pound, 2 ounce son, I still didn’t know it had happened. My tummy never quite went back to its previous shape, but then plenty of women told me, “that’s normal; everything is in a different spot than it was before you had the baby.” So I tried not to think too much about it.

It became more obvious with my other pregnancies though, and at some point I figured out what had happened.

I had diastasis recti.

The Weirdest Thing About Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy // JessConnell.com

WHAT IS DIASTASIS RECTI?

(Before you go running for the hills, let me assure you: it has no connection to the word “rectum.”) 

The connective tissue between my abdominal wall had torn.

Plainly, there is a gap between the two sides of my abs. So instead of a six-pack, I’ve got two three-packs. Or, to be realistically honest, just two sides of my tummy. And they aren’t eager to reconnect.

After some of my pregnancies, with some combination of exercise and weight loss and wearing a medical-grade girdle, I’ve seen various levels of the appearance of reconnection (i.e., it didn’t look terribly like two bulgy, disconnected sides), but I don’t know that they’ve ever truly gone back together.

So now that you know what we’re talking about, let’s dive in…

WHAT IS THE WEIRDEST THING ABOUT DIASTASIS RECTI IN PREGNANCY?

This is my 5th month of pregnancy with our 7th child. And last week, I remembered what the weirdest thing about diastasis recti in pregnancy is. 

The weirdest thing is NOT:

  • that by the 7th month of pregnancy, everyone who looks closely at my belly swears that I’m carrying twins because each side is so bulgy and distinct
  • that my belly button is off-center
  • being able to press my fingers down into the center of my stomach and feel the two sides of my abs press in when I do postpartum crunches

Nope. Those things are all true, but they aren’t the weirdest thing about it.

The weirdest thing is this:

Each pregnancy, when the baby starts TRULY kicking and squirming and jumping and jabbing and wiggling and twirling, I can distinctly feel the outline and curve of every single movement through the 2-3 inch gap down the center of my stomach. This is 100 million percent different than normal “feeling the baby kick”… this is not feeling it from the inside, sweet movements that make you smile and giggle and surprise you with their strength.

No, this feels more like alien movements, and– honestly?– sometimes gets scary because it feels like the baby could just poke right through.

I mean, and I am saying this without exaggeration (if you knew me you’d know I’m not given to hyperbole and drama in medical things), the fingers that push outward feel like they are going to press right through. That’s because, essentially, between the baby’s finger and the air I’m breathing is uterine wall (which is about as thick as skin) and skin. That’s it. No muscles to pad the movements. It feels very very very bizarro-land weird and, yes, it can be wonderful. And it can even be fun. It’s amazing to be able to feel and interact with my baby with virtually no barrier at all.

But it’s definitely bizarro-land weird. 

 

And each time it happens, it takes me by surprise. I forget how truly wild it is to feel each movement so distinctly. To be able to place my hand there and feel the exact form of my baby’s little rump or the jab of a heel. And again, I don’t mean in the same way that I feel it on the outsides of my belly, or the way I felt it the first time around. That is very very different. Wonderful, too.

But it is different, weird, poky, and surprising to feel him through the 2-3 inch seam (or rather, to be more precise, torn seam) down the center of my belly. Which is what I began feeling about a week ago, right around 27 weeks.

THAT, friends, is the weirdest thing about diastasis recti in pregnancy.

Subscribe to my newsletter, and I'll send monthly encouragement -- full of truth and grace for moms. SIGN UP, SO WE CAN KEEP IN TOUCH:

Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    I am due to have my 8th little one in less than 2 weeks and have also dealt with diastasis recti through many pregnancies. I can totally relate to what you’re saying! It’s amazing in a strange sort of way to feel those movements and stretches so distinctly! I’m quite thankful that our uterine wall and outer skin is strong enough to keep that little one within!! :)

  2. Jenn says:

    If you haven’t already, check out fit2b.us and the tummy team! They specialize in healing (and preventing) DR. They have options for during pregnancy and postpartum. I’ve found it to be really helpful. :)

    • Melanie says:

      I second this! I’m doing The Tummy Team’s online rehab program right now. At one year postpartum, my diastisis is small (2 fingers) and shallow (meaning the connective tissue has thickened back up), but my core muscles have been on vacation!

      They do not believe there is any time limit on healing a DR. They have successfully helped women years later. Men and children can also develop DR because it’s not caused by pregnancy, per se, but by outward pressure in the abdomen. Hope that helps!

      • Melanie says:

        I just remembered that you’re actually right in their area now–you could go see Kelly (from The Tummy Team) in person! Her office is in Camas. I drove 1 1/2 hrs. to get a hands on session with her last month when she was on the east coast for a weekend, and it was so helpful.

  3. Carrie says:

    Wow, that is good to know. I had twins for #5 and #6. My stomach separated big time and for awhile wasn’t sure what was going on until I started talking to other women. I’ll have to remember this if God blesses us with more.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Carrie, the thing my midwife told me is that basically, you have 12 months after having a baby to reconnect the sides, otherwise they will remain disconnected. So the main thing is that after each baby, you do abdominal exercises to bring them closer and closer together. Wearing a girdle, or wrapping, can actually help also, so that the two sides are held closer together. The main thing is to not lose time, to make the most of those early postpartum months, if you want to repair/heal diastasis recti.

      • Jessica says:

        I agree with everything you said, and I have an addition.. Your pelvic floor is also related! I went to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor (for other issues) and she was explaining that a weak pelvic floor can also hinder healing! So some of those exercises as well as specialized abdominal exercises can help bring healing to the abdomen.

  4. Leila says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I am hoping to get pregnant soon and was wondering what movements in my next pregnancy would feel like, and you describe what I was imagining would happen. My first baby was 9lb9oz, so my opening is like yours. I feel a lot happening in my GI tract on a regular basis as if it contained a tiny fetus, but alas no baby yet.

  1. February 6, 2015

    […] Luke is still inside, sticking his knobby knees out in alien movements that I feel with gasp-inducing clarity, and prying his little feet up into my […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join my e-mail list & get 30 Quick Fixes (for Tough Mom Days) FREE!

  • Stay connected with your kids, even on the hard days.
  • Get exclusive MOM encouragement
  • Let me help you become the best mom possible!

Enter your name & e-mail address & let's become friends: