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.
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.