It has been 6 months now since my diastasis recti surgery. Many people have read my previous posts about how the decisions I had to make to have the operation, the struggles, the fear, and the diastasis recti recovery. Yet, I haven’t written a post about how I am doing now. So, I wanted to share life post-surgery.
(If you want to then read about how I am doing 3 years later, click here.)
Diastatis Recti Recovery
I won’t sugar-coat it and make it seem like everything was easy these past six months. It was not. It was emotional when I could not pick up my pre-schooler when he wanted a hug, and to coordinate people to be around me 24/7, so I could not lift anything over 10 pounds for 8 weeks (including my own baby.) It was hard to see a huge scar, it was hard to have a lot of swelling, and it was frustrating to be in a lot of pain.
Even without lifting things over 10 pounds, I got tired easily those first two months. My body had a 10-hour surgery, and there was a lot to get back in regard to energy. Even when I was given the go-ahead to walk upright, it took me a full month to stand up straight. I finally went to a chiropractor specializing in ART (active release techniques) to help me, and it was a huge help.
Umbilical Hernia Surgery Recovery
Yet, I still didn’t have full range of motion until mid-May. Though, to be honest, I am not sure how much was physical vs. mental in that respect. I had such a fear those first couple of months that I was going to pull my stitches, rip a hole, or a myriad of other calamities that my brain was envisioning, that I was fearful of doing anything. While that fear is lessoned, I still take care (and then worry after) when I have to lift a box in the garage or a suitcase at the airport, or even when I sneeze. Any time I am playing with the kids, I take extra care to protect my torso from a kick or being used as a seat cushion when they try to sit on me.
I also had a lot of swelling. I have spoken to friends who have had standard tummy tucks who have had swelling too, but not as severe and for not as long. While everyone’s recovery is different, an abdominal reconstructive surgery as severe and complicated as mine, probably results in side effects for a longer period of time. So I mention it because it can be very frustrating. However, the swelling lessens each month that passes, and I do see a big improvement from last month to now, let alone now and that first post-surgery month last February.
Diastasis Recti Recovery from Surgery
It has also been interesting to adjust to a new torso after my Diastasis Recti surgery. I have gotten used to not having my belly button, and more of a makeshift one. I have gotten used to my huge scar (and just wear high-cut underwear to hide it.) There were many weeks where I could not sleep in my favorite position, even when I got clearance to be able to lay down flat again.
While the swelling is going down, the one unique thing I am also dealing with it the numbness. It has gotten dramatically better, but even as I write this post, I can feel my hand touch my stomach, but the full sensation is not there. It is not a bad thing per se, it is more of a “huh, that’s interesting” reaction. I’m told that it is also something that improves over time, but it is a side effect of the surgery and it may never improve. So I am not sure which camp I will ultimate fall in, in that regard.
I am sure you are wondering the ultimate question. Would I do it again? The answer is yes. I would do it again even knowing how hard it has been, the challenges I knew were coming and the frustrations I did not know would impact me. Why? Because I am so much happier. I feel better than I did. I can go running again (even though I have had to start from scratch.) I can go for long walks, I can take an aerobics class and not feel pain. I can also put a dress on, and have it not be a maternity one. I can wear a normal pair of pants, and don’t need elastic ones. I no longer have everyone from a child to a senior citizen ask me when I’m due.
I can’t tell you if you should have it though. So many factors about your lifestyle come into play. There are a lot of risks, and everyone’s health varies. There are recovery limitations that may not be something you are able and willing to take based on family and work obligations. I will say that if you do decide to have it, don’t have it in the heart of winter. I know it seems like the perfect time to recover since you’re still stuck indoors, but I got a cold with a hacking cough right before my surgery. Luckily, it went away, like, the day before, but I was so scared of coughing afterwards. The same could be said of other seasons if you have bad allergies. Since I do have a tendency to sneeze everyday, the doctor told me to crunch myself up into a ball when I needed to sneeze. It was a way to protect all the stitches (internal and external.)
For some, personal training may be the solution. For me, it was not. It was too severe and the hernias too numerous that I didn’t bother trying. Yet, for some of you, it may be enough to avoid surgery. For others, the cost of paying $75 a session for a personal trainer may be better spent on surgical costs. You just have to weigh the pros and cons of them all.
The advice I can give, is at least see what your options are. Find a good plastic surgeon who is Board Certified. Find one that is willing to repair hernias and your diastasis recti together so you don’t have to have two surgeries. Find a plastic surgeon who repairs diastasis (and get references) vs. one that just does standard tummy tucks. Talk to your ob/gyn and perhaps get referrals from them. Speak to a personal trainer about a treatment plan, and what is the possibility of successfully reducing your muscle separation. Remember, however, that only surgery can repair it, but for many, the personal training can lesson the severity enough that you are happy.
While I miss the freedom of lifting and moving things anyway and anywhere I wanted to move them, it is a small sacrifice to make knowing I have my self-confidence back. But more so, is that fact that I don’t have to be in pain anymore and can go to Disney World with my kids. That, my friends, is priceless for me.
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have DR and umbilical hernia. I have a 22 month old, and I will have a second child this winter. I am so looking forward to getting back to normal. I haven’t found very much information on this subject, especially the surgery. Do you think there is anything I can do during this pregnancy to prevent it from getting worse? Also was your surgery considered elective? Does insurance see this as a medical problem or cosmetic? Thank you so much for any tips or further information. I was so happy to find your site today!!
Sara. Not sure about preventing it. I wish I knew! Some say wearing the support belts help but I haven’t seen any official studies that it is proven to work. Same with the belly bands post baby. I think a lot of it is genetics and how you carry the baby. I was always looking like a swallowed a basketball and like the kids were going to burst out of my belly button vs. you know where. LOL. So I think that had a lot to do with it. My surgery was considered part elective and part medical. Some of it was covered by insurance and one of the reasons it is great to find one surgeon that can do it all so your dollars get spent wisely! It varies state by state, and company by company, but a good doctor will document and fight for your case, like mine did. Of course, mine was pretty bad so insurance saw all the photos, documents, etc, but they may not cover or cover as much if it is not severe. Just like every other medical condition, right? Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! And afterwards, if you have any questions, let me know!
I can identify with some pre- and post-surgery experiences and problems you’ve have, since I have been recovering from lumbar fusion.
If you like, refer to HEN BACKTALK a few days ago to note that I have urged people to read Protecting Your Baby’s Eyes From the Sun. Best info of this kind I have ever seen.
Hi Charlene. Thank you for writing about your experiences. I can’t stop crying reading about your decision to go thru with the surgery to reading your post surgery experiences. I am 17 months post pardum and have been diagnosed with Severe DR. I have an 9 cm gap. I am scared..I dont know why but I am. Surgery is the only way this will get better for me. I met with the surgeon today and this is all becoming so real. Thank you for speaking out..it means more than you will ever know!
So sorry you had to go through all that but glad to see you are doing good now. Thanks for sharing your story.
Yes I carried the same way!! Looked like I was going to pop at 7 months! The rest of me stayed little though! So yay for that! Thank you so much for your response! I will keep in touch : )
Olivia – I know how you feel. Inside and outside. The decisions, the worries. All of it. I am thinking of you and please come back and let me know how you are doing. It will help other women too in making these decisions. Many hugs!
Thank you so much for your posts on this issue. I had twin boys in March that I carried to full term. They were both over 7 lbs and I carried them straight out in front. While I’m thrilled to have two healthy babies, I still look at least six months pregnant with no hope to correct it other than surgery. I get lots of looks from people wondering if I’ve gotten pregnant again already. I’ve even had at least 10 people ask me how far along I am. It’s really depressing to look like this, to have to continue to wear maternity clothes, to deal with back pain and not feeling in control of my life. So, I’ve scheduled the surgery for October. I’ve never had surgery before and this scares me to death for all of the same reasons you’ve mentioned in your postings. I know I need to do it though and I know I’ll be happier once it’s done. I just really don’t want to go through it. Everything you’ve written on this has really given me so much comfort. Thank you!
Hi! Thank you for documenting all your progress! I’m meeting w a second plastic surgeon tomorrow and know this is the only way to fix my problem… Had two sons- first was 23″ and 9.8 lbs! I’m 5’4″ and now weigh 125. I shot up to 215 w both my boys. So bad! I’ve already had hernia surgery on one, but have another and am super sick to my stomach and digestive issues. I know it’s due to DR. I know I need the surgery to feel better… I’ve thought about the same things as you.. About should I? Maybe I should just deal with my issues… Its such a problem, I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy, I have two young boys who need me!
Hi, Im from New Zealand and have severe diastasis and hernia. I am quite into outdoor sports, hiking snowboarding and hoping to get into paragliding. I cant find any info on whether surgery would help to strengthen the core and maybe help with stress incontinance?
Does surgery make it easier to lift things or harder (obviously months down the track)
I have been reading your blog as I recover from my own dr surgery, five days ago. I had the dr/hernia repair and a tummy tuck, plus he repositioned my belly button. I am glad to see that six months later you were happy you had it done. This recovery is no joke! I am still sleeping upright, and I do not think that will end anytime soon. And the drains are gross. The general lack of mobility is frustrating. I will say that I am not having swelling, and the change is so dramatic that people could notice how much better/flatter my stomach looked immediately–even though I have this huge corset thing wrapped around me. Anyway… Thanks for sharing your story. There are a lot of us out there struggling with this yucky situation. How I hated the constant inquiries about my due date. I would all but shriek at people: I! Am! Not! Pregnant!!!!
I’m glad i found your blog! It’s wonderful to hear similar stories. I think at this moment I just need to vent and hear someone understands. I’m going to be thirty in March. I’m five foot and before my twins weighing 160! I was in a college town pretending to still be 21;) (was 25) cried on my 25th birthday wanting a family kids husband house, etc and by 26 had an amazing husband and boy girl twins almost three weeks old. God does answer prayers! Lol anyways leaving the hospital I was back to pre pregnancy weight. My babies will be four in feb and I’m having surgery the 17 of dec. I don’t feel anyone understands! I still look five months pregnant. I get told eat better and exercise! Yes I am vein but until 24(and too much drinking) I was small never over 130. Do they really think I’m going to be happy 30 lbs over? My surgeon made me feel amazing and said I have hardly any fat which is great but when I repeat this the looks I get are hurtful. Y can’t they realize it’s not sucking fat out of me it’s making life better so in the future there are no hernias and back problems? I can start to re live life! I went full term( well 39 weeks) and had a almost 7 pounder and almost 8 pounder! Day of c section I weight 205lbs. I was as big as I am tall. Rough on the body. Extended family friends etc,… How do you deal?
hi Charlene first off I want to thank you for telling us your story and sharing your experiences! I have had 3 C-sections and the recovery was painful and emotional at the best of times. At the moment I am at a crossroad with contemplating having the DR surgery to fix my belly and my self esteem. To be honest im a little scared to have the surgery coz I know what lies after with the recovery. Having read your article you have given me hope and the courage to possibly go thru with the surgery… thank you kindly
I am so glad I came across your story. I am going in for diastasis recti and umbilical hernia surgery on Wednesday and I will be happy to be pain free and not look 3 months pregnant. Me at 3 months looks like most at 5 months. I saw your picture of you at 8 months and that is me exactly, but at 6 or 7 months. I get the strangest looks because from behind I do not look pregnant at all! I am inspired and encouraged from your story. I have four beautiful daughters, one of which was just born in September and all were sections. I was due in September and started getting asked if I was due any day in April. My biggest fear of the whole thing is leaving my girls without a mommy. I am sure the risk of not waking from surgery is very minimal, but weighs on my mind nonetheless! I am also fighting insurance as they have denied the medical necessity that both my primary doctor and the plastic/reconstructive surgeon see. To me, waking up is the most critical part right now! Thanks again for sharing your story.
Thinking about you today and hope you come back and share your story. It is such a hard balance to find. Doing something for ourselves yet thinking about our kids at the same time. You’re strong and we are thinking of you! Hugs. XOXO
Hello I am going to have this surgery in Jan. 2014 they tell me I may be on life support for 1-2 days because breathing is hard. And the surgery will be 6 to 7 hours. Did you have to go on life support…?
I did not but I know they often slow down your breathing because of the area they are working on. But I know everyone has different needs and health factors that can play into it. Trust your doctor to know best, but always get a second opinion too. I did not even have a hospital stay. I was home that night, but with family that could help and check on me. The nurses also called me around the clock those first few days too so definitely check on those procedures too! Good luck and keep me updated. All thinking of you!
Thank you Charlene!! I finally found a blog that speaks to the experience I’ve just embarked upon and thank you for sharing your intimate experiences.
I underwent surgery last Thursday to repair my umbilical hernia and my very large separation of muscles. The tummy tuck was the final piece and something I never thought I’d need or even want. Like you I was under the impression and very comfortable knowing I’d have a baby pouch after my children were born. However the fact that my bulge was larger than normal and my back and feet were screaming, that I knew I needed to be smart in addressing the healing process of my diastasis.
I’m 41 yrs old, 5’5 and 130 pounds. Each of my babies were born at 10.5 and 9.5 pounds respectively. I was amazed and somewhat proud of my torpedo belly during pregnancy, but knew I would eventually feel the repercussions. I embarked on physical therapy for 4 months and kept up with those same exercises for the rest of the year. My mental focus was more successful than the physical outcome. Eventually I was disheartened and found a surgeon who could repair both my hernia and my diastasis.
So far so good with my recovery (only been 3 days!). I opted to take the pain medicine. I’m overly active so sleeping and relaxing has been good for me. I’m also not to pick up my 3 or 1 1/2 year old for another 6-8 weeks. Will be very hard! Although I won’t be able to hug them in that special way, I know I’ll have many years of active playtime with them to look forward to.
I couldn’t be happier that I made this decision and look forward to hearing more about how your ongoing recovery is going. Thank you again.
Thankyou so much for sharing your story, there is very little written about those of us who need to have a ‘medically required’ abdominoplasty. Do you know how big your abdominal separation ended up being? I have a 19cm separation (about 7.5 inches) and am booked in to have it surgically repaired in April. I have been worried about the pain afterwards, particularly as I’ve been told the greater the separation, the greater the pain. Would you agree with that? Thanks again, your blog has really helped me in the lead up to my surgery.
Thank you for your story. I seem to google daily what to expect and this was very helpful because most sites said it is a 2 month recovery and i am going on 4 feeling like i have a looooooong way to go. i still wear my tummy band because i fear daily i am damaging something. i too have a 2 and 4 year old and it is so hard to lay low. my lovely husband allowed me to stay in bed as long as i needed but by week 3 i had to get involved because i was feeling better and going crazy but i fear i did damage. i tried to be careful, but i was bending over A LOT picking up after the kids and although i never carried my kids, i would have to pick the 2 year old up to put him in the carseat and sometimes it was a fight (terrible twos). I too had diastasis recti repair, umbilical hernia, additional ab hernia and tears in my ab wall all repaired and a tummy tuck. it is hard to say when a good time to do it because you are right, this winter was one of the worst with colds and flus and i caught a cold 2 months into it and coughing was scary and painful. i also had the surgery at my best weight and in best shape so i was already thin with a prego looking tummy and having the surgery in October, recovering over the holidays with no exercise put a lot of weight on me so i have a bulge where the repair was done so i worry it reoccurred, but hoping it is just fat from putting on weight. the doctor said he would only know for sure if i did damage by opening me back up and that’s not going to happen, so my question is what do you remember at 4 months? how did you feel? I am a surfer and stand up paddle boarder and the doctor said 6 months will get me back on my boards and because i was in such great shape when it happened i thought the recovery would be shorter but i am beginning to think that even 6 months is not long enough and it is putting me in another depression. to answer those wondering if i would do it again…..absolutely! even though there’s a bulge, i don’t look pregnant and the extra flab that looked like a sharpie dog is gone. I just wish i layed low longer and did it when my kids were older. i look forward to your responses. thank you!
i have two hernias and diastatis recti. It has been a painful experience. people are always telling me congratulations on my pregnancy. i had two csections and two kids three years later, i still look like i am pregnant. wow….i am the same way…my surgeon told me i would only be out of it for seven days. …but after reading your story, it seems like more. thank you for sharing.
From my recliner, 4 days post the same surgery as you. This blog post has been a light for me, at a very dark hour. Thank you. So very much. Now back to breathing and trying not to cough.
you may have mentioned this in previous posts, but how wide was your gap between your abs. my doc just called me back to tell me that I have a 7 cm gap. she said I should get surgery to correct that as well as umbilical hernia. very overwhelmed at the moment, but found your story when googling images and info on the procedure..
you May have mentioned this in an earlier post but how wide was the gap between your abs? my doctor just called and said that I have a 7 cm gap… Definitely worthy of surgery. I also have an umbilical hernia. Trying to weigh all my options. my youngest is now 15 months. have been exercising and dieting for over a year with no improvement in my abs 🙁
and I accidentally posted twice.. sorry!!! it didn’t show up when I looked after my first post.
Thanks for commenting! I know it can be so overwhelming! My gap was 9cm and I had the 2/3 hernias on top of it all. Definitely get second options, talk to a physical therapist, see what your options are. It can be a tough decision so information is key and regardless of what decision you do make, at least you will have what you need to feel like you made the right one! Hang in there. It is tough being a Mom to little ones and face this too!
Really helpful article about the diastasis recti I am facing coming up.
I’d think for a male it’s a little different from a woman, especially in my case, where it’s to repair a congenital diastasis recti AND hernia and extensive abdominal complication from a very big abdominal surgery to repair perforated diverticulitis, peritonitis and sepsis following only two days after open heart surgery. (I’ve been through the ringer, but now looking forward to getting it all fixed for the last time.)
I already exercise frequently, step aerobics, and am starting to loose weight. Having had numerous complications from the prior heart surgery, I was a bit leery about more surgery, but your blog seems to have allayed my fears.
It’s never easy to consider surgery. You know it is important when you weigh the pros and cons! You have definitely been through the medical ringer! But man or woman, there is nothing like facing a big decision. Fingers crossed everything goes well and keep us updated on your progress! Warm wishes for a speedy and healthy recovery!
Thanks for your honesty and transparency. I am thankful that you had a positive outcome after the surgery. I have severe diastisis recti and look several months pregnant even though I’m 4 months postpartum. I have physical pain like backaches, abdominal pain and my feet ache as a result.
I have considered reconstructive surgery as well. My questions for you are: Which doctor determined your condition? Was it your general physician or your ob? How did you find a surgeon who had experience with your condition?
Thanks again and I hope you’re able to enjoy your time with your kids now.
It was my general physician, who then referred me to a OB/GYN, who referred me to a General Surgeon, who then referred me to a Plastic Surgeon. While it was not planned, I had all four agreeing something was wrong! As for finding someone, I just had a lot of consults, and asked a lot of questions. Good luck! Thinking of you!
how long do you have to wait to have the surgery? im almost 2 months PP and my OBY told me that I have to wait at least a year to get the surgery done.
That sounded like what my doctor said to recover from child birth and to get hormones back in check. Also, it gives time to ‘recover’ from pregnancy and see what they have to work with. I know it is hard to wait but it is worth the wait. Just my opinion of course!