Why Do I Still Look Pregnant?

{This is a rather long post. Yet, as most of my pregnancy posts this past year, it’s worth reading since it’s like watching a train wreck.}

Muscles of the trunk

Muscles of the trunk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine walking down the street and everyone constantly stops you to congratulate you on your pregnancy. Others smile at you in the elevator and ask when you are due. I love this pregnancy attention, but these utterances & joyful expressions happened just yesterday.

And I had my baby 4 months ago.

Many friends provide wonderful sympathy saying it takes awhile to get your body back after a baby; especially the second time around. Yet, as children ask me what is in my belly, and I still need to wear maternity clothes, something is wrong; why do I still look pregnant?

In September, as my toddler danced around the room, and my baby was screaming to be breastfed, I met with a highly-respected surgeon. She took one look at me standing there in my street clothes and immediately said “I’m so sorry”. (Yes, I quote that.) I thought she meant the current insanity we were inflicting on her office, but she meant my health situation. She knew immediately that I had a severe case of diastasis recti, and had two hernias: umbilical and ventral.

What is Diastasis Recti? From what I understand, it’s when your rectus abdominal muscle is split. The rectus abdominal muscle travels down the center of your torso and supports the organs on each side of your belly button. So imagine each is torn apart – like you opened a ziploc bag. Some women have small ziploc bag: one or two finger widths. Mine, however, is about five to six. (The gallon size.) This results in my internal organs pushing out of my body cavity since the muscles can’t do their job to keep it in. Hence, my looking like I’m five months pregnant four months after the fact. (Apparently, that’s a big giveaway to doctors…) This results in a lot of side effects as you can imagine; I don’t know I need to pee, I often am not hungry or am hungry, my stomach is painful when it gets bumped, I have a slouch, and my back has spasms. (I’ll spare you even more of the finer details.)

As for the hernias, the content of the hernia bulges out, which can apply enough pressure that blood vessels are constricted and the blood supply can be cut off. If the blood supply is cut off, it becomes a medical emergency as the tissue needs oxygen which is transported by the blood supply.

Fun times, people. Fun times.

My only physical limitation, thankfully, is I avoid lifting things greater than 15 pounds. The reason is that lifting objects puts a lot of strain on your torso. For example, find a heavy object around your house – say a gallon of water – and lift it up to shoulder height. When you do, you’ll feel it in your abs. It usually is a sub-consious thing. We often don’t even think about it, but just like we don’t think about the act of breathing, we become aware of the limitation when we have a hard time doing so – like when we have a cold.

The other issue is that since I don’t have any muscles supporting my front, it causes me to hunch over. So it puts a lot of pressure on my back. The positive is that I really have to think about lifting with my legs and to have proper posture. Otherwise, I am like a floppy doll that can’t sit upright. So I usually wear a binder that acts as my abs; enabling me to sit tall and to provide the trunk support I need.

Thankfully, I can still run. I just tape myself together so my belly is supported. It is no different than running in the early days of my pregnancy. I just get a lot of looks, which at this point I am used to. They just think I am a pregnant runner. Sometimes I avoid the stares and run on the treadmill at home. But at least I can run. These days, it is my quiet time and I need it. Why? Well, here is the kicker….

Insurance covers hernia repairs, but it does not cover Diastasis Recti. You’d think that, regardless of why your inerds are hanging outerds, insurance would fix it, but hernias can happen to men and women. Yet, Diastasis Recti happens primarily to women. So those men running the government and the insurance companies don’t have much sympathy. The former is considered medical and the other cosmetic. Apparently, I’m vain to want my intestines to be back where they belong.

I did get a second opinion. That doctor said, “Oh, Wow.” (I only wish I was making this stuff up.) Needless to say, I’m happy that this was not “in my head”, but I’m not downplaying it, as it is a pretty messed up situation in there. It is going to cost a lot of money to fix.

That is the medical situation I’m currently facing….

But now……the emotional side of the story.

 

 

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About Charlene DeLoach

As a Boston Mom Blogger in Massachusetts, Charlene DeLoach doesn't care about the megapixels on a smartphone. She only cares about whether it will survive being in the hands of her kids.

Comments

  1. Oh I’m so sorry. I knew about most of it from our conversation, but not the insurance part. That just totally sucks. Would publicity help? Draw attention to it and hope the chauvinists at the insurance company cave?

  2. Amy. Love you style (and support.) But it is a bigger issue than just me. What is great to know is the doctor said he would fight for coverage so it is great to have an advocate. I’d going to work with the state and try to change the law.

  3. Thank you for this post. I had never heard of diastasis recti before which is shocking considering I have 2 children and a gaggle of friends with multiple kids as well. I resonated with the title of the post since my toddler has asked me multiple times if I have “another baby in my belly” (downright depressing), but as I read the other physical symptoms it was like you were describing my ailments perfectly. I researched and tested myself and had my pilates instructor test me too. She confirmed what I suspected – I have it. I’m making an appointment with my PCP to discuss and we already changed my pilates workout to target the muscles that I need to try to repair it through exercise. I appreciate you sharing your story. While it’s disappointing that I have this and have likely been making it worse through my workouts, it certainly explains a lot and I wouldn’t have known about it without reading this.

  4. Michelle
    Glad I could help. At lot of people have it after multiple pregnancies but at some point it is just ‘more extreme’ if you know what I mean: when it is less of a Mom pooch and more of a round baby bump. Glad you are going have someone look at it. There are specific ab exercises, that are not crunches, to help too, but it doesn’t work for everyone, depending on the severity. Good luck and keep me updated!

  5. Thanks to Amy @ selfish mom.com, I now found a new blog to read! I also have abdominal separation. It’s hard to lift anything over 20 pounds. And I also have an umbilical hernia that protrudes when I cough or sneeze. It’s horrible! I thought I was the only one that suffered from this so I kept it a secret. It’s terrible that some women have to deal with this if they not have the $$ to cover the expenses. My ins sucks so I’m sure they would just pay to repair the hernia but not the separation. Hope all goes well and I hope to see your after photos!

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