Are You Pregnant?

Are You Pregnant?

The answer is NO!  I have been asked this question a lot of times since Camden was born.  I’m about to get really serious and personal with you.  I have diastasis recti, one of the many conditions that can happen after having a baby.  It basically means that the stomach muscles stretched so much during pregnancy that they don’t go back together after the baby.  Crunches and ab workouts, you say.  These only make it worse.  I hope that sharing my struggles and victory over this will help someone else who is going through this same thing.

This has been a deeply personal battle to walk through over the past year and a half.  I think I had a little bit of a diastasis after Arabella because even after getting back down to size 6 and 137 lbs, my stomach still protruded a little – mostly at the top under my bust line.  It even got worse after Camden’s birth from improper movement and some rapid weight gain after getting the birth control shot (which I don’t ever recommend for anyone).

Here’s a picture of me at Camden’s 1st birthday.  Look how high up my belly goes and how I’m clearly not able to support him with my back muscles.

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My separation was pretty severe.  The muscles were so separated that it was a thin layer of tissue holding back my organs.  You could feel them if you pressed your hand through the gap in the muscles.  Yuck…and it hurt really bad if Camden crawled on me and pushed on me.  Also, the back pain was excruciating.  I was done standing by 5 pm.  When we had friends over, it was all I could do to sit in a chair and talk.  Never could I make it to the kitchen to clean up.  If I did, I was in a lot of pain.  God blessed me with some great friends during this season who come over regularly and help contribute to dinner and always clean my kitchen.  I love you, Faith and Jamie!

My midwife had given me the Tupler Technique information and exercises to do.  I tried off and on with a little success, but not much.  Finally, this summer I was lying in bed crying and telling John that I was in excruciating pain.  I’m not a wimp when it comes to pain.  I’ve had both of my babies without pain meds and not easy labors either.  I had looked into surgery, but the stories I read were not encouraging.  We decided that my condition was serious and needed serious action.

I bought the Tupler Technique Package that came with a DVD that explained everything that was going on in my body, how to do the exercises and how to not injure myself in the future while exercising.  Also, I bought a splint that I wear 24 hours a day except for Sunday when I wash it.  I have 2 now for convenience.  This splint has arms that wrap around you to pull your muscles together so they can heal.  It also helped me do the exercises better.  You only wear it until the diastasis closes.  I also got a booklet that gives you a checklist for every week of the the program up to 18 weeks.  I am on week 10 right now, and am going to share my before and progress pictures with you.  I have only lost about 3 lbs. since day 1, so it’s all the muscles pulling everything back in where it’s supposed to go.  Plus my waistline seems to be whittling a little.

These photos were taken after I had worn the splint for 3 days.  Prior to that, my the bulge came up to right under my bust line.  It actually flattened out at the top after the three days.  I saw my parents that day and they both thought I must have had the splint on under my top, but I didn’t.  I wish I had a picture before this.  Notice the belly button sticking out.  This is common with a diastasis.  No wonder people thought I was preggars.  I couldn’t even hold in my stomach if I tried.

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My measurements were 34 1/2 under the bust and 38 1/2 across the belly button.

After 4 weeks of doing the program faithfully, I had gone down to 32 1/2 under the bust and 36 at the belly button.

By week 8, I had gone down to 32 under the bust and 34 at the belly button.  Notice no belly button protruding!

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I still have a ways to go, but my back doesn’t hurt anymore.  The diastasis is closed except at the belly button line.  I can still get about 3 fingers in, but it use to be two hands across.  I’m not as self conscious and fidgety out in public as I use to be, and I can stand up straighter too.  The best part is as he has grown heavier, he actually feels lighter to me because I can pick him up and hold him without pain.  I love my baby boy!

If you think you have this condition, you can check it by going to this link and following the instructions.  The package I bought is here.  I am not making any money off this.  I just want to share with others who may be struggling with the same thing.  If you have any questions, I would love to help you get on the way to healing!  Email me at julie@themakeshiftnest.com or leave me a comment.

I hope this inspires someone!

JulieBird

Comments

  1. Wow Julie what an amazing story…I know this will help someone and I already know who I’m forwarding this too!

  2. Jamie lynn says:

    Love this. Thanks for sharing. The absolutely BEST blogs are the personal heart filled ones!

  3. soooo glad you are finding some help! hoping for full healing for you!

  4. Julie, your honest and transparency is both inspiring and challenging! I just love you so much for willingly sharing your journey to encourage others, that is true sisterhood! Xoxox

  5. My son was born 20 months ago. Will this program help me this far out?

  6. Thank you so much for your heart and transparency Julie!! You are such a blessing to many!!!! oxoxo

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this. I had 3 babies in less than 3.5 years. Even after baby 1 I knew something was wrong but my ob told me to go to the gym & do crunches. I was wondering if Tupler technique really work. I was grateful to find your story.

  8. Thank u for this! I got DR after having all 3 of my children ,but this last time, things didn’t close up. I still have an outie too. I have the splint,video,etc, but shortly after doing the program for 3 weeks,we got an offer on our house, moved twice,started back homeschooling, blah blah and I put this priority on the back burner.So 9 months later, we are settled in our new house, and I’m feeling the serious need to commit to following through with Tupler. Now that you have completed t he 18 weeks has everything continued to stay closed without the daily use of your splint? When u were doing the 18 week program, did you do any other type of exercise?I have been doing weights at the gym and was wondering if it was ok? In the 3 weeks I faithfully wore the splint I had pain and bloating in my stomach that made want to take the splint off some days. Did u experience this?? Thank u so much if u get a chance to respond to this! Merry Christmas

    • Jill,

      I should update this post with some of this info. Mine diastasis was so severe that I should have continued the maintenance after finishing the 18 weeks. Julie Tupler did a follow up video a while back for people who had purchased the program and said that for some people, it could take up to a year to close the gap, but to keep working at it. I have currently, after having such crazy life changes like you decided to get back to doing it along with a workout routine. If you have the video, she explains the things you shouldn’t do ever again while working out. I supplement the Tupler exercises during the ab portion of my workout. The good news is, you’ll never do crunches again. ;) You should probably wear your splint while working out to make sure you are doing things correctly. If you think maybe your splint is too tight, you can purchase extenders. I had to do this at first. You saw how big my belly was. You will have to eat less at one time too. It just takes a little getting used to because you can’t eat the same amount of food you normally would. Hope this helps! Feel free to email me at julie@themakeshiftnest.com. I would love to keep in touch about this and exchange some much needed accountability as well!

      Merry Christmas!

      Julie

  9. Hey Julie!

    I’m curious to know how many fingers apart your DR was and how you’re doing now? I originally bought the Tupler stuff, but after I started it, I found many stories of women saying they looked amazing after the specified timeframe, but that the moment they stopped wearing the splint (no matter how diligent they were with the exercises) their pooch/belly started to stick out again. I find that very discouraging as they didn’t have as wide of a gap as I do. Mine is extremely severe. I know she says it can take up to a year to really gain some ground, but I haven’t found anyone who actually testifies to this. I found one other method that seems promising but they don’t use a splint and instead incorporate a variety of exercises (beyond the abdomen) to strengthen the abdomen. I’m thinking about giving that one a try as I don’t want to wear the splint 24/7 for the rest of my life. It is so uncomfortable. :) Looking at your photo and reading your description, you seem to have had a severe split like I do so I thought to check in with how you’re doing now. :)

    • Angela,
      I know it is a frustrating thing. Mine was about two hands (gross!) at the widest part (above my belly button) and about one hand above and below. Mine did split apart again after doing too much packing and moving for our move to Florida and being sick and coughing for a month without being careful to hold the muscles together. I also had a brief pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage, but it was enough to encourage the separation. I have been struggling with the idea of doing the Tuppler program again, but I really, really don’t want to. I wear my splint some days, but I hate wearing it when I go out because the velcro is always trying to come undone. I would love to know what the other method is that you found. I was really happy with the Tuppler Technique, and I would still recommend it to others. It’s just that when you have a huge separation, you need to be prepared for the long haul, and it can be frustrating to keep going. I’m so glad I saw your post this morning because I had just resolved to start wearing my splint AND doing the exercises again. I’m curious to check out the other method too.

      • Hey Julie!
        Sorry it took me so long to reply. I didn’t want to do it on my phone due to autocorrect changing so many things haha. I just recently moved across the country, so I know exactly what you’re talking about! So sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I didn’t realize it would encourage more separation that soon, but our bodies go through so many changes starting at conception that I suppose it isn’t really that surprising.

        So I’ll try to keep this somewhat short, instead of a novel like I am known to do. :) After getting the Tuppler stuff and starting the exercises and such, I continued to research what other options were out there just in case there was something better or more effective. (It actually took me a little while to even stumble across the Tuppler stuff because there really isn’t much information out there on the topic of DR. It’s basically, “if you have it, get surgery.” I don’t find that helpful, especially after reading so many women’s stories of recovery and issues followed by surgery. Not to mention, after realizing how large of a gap I have, I would have to get a full tummy tuck at the same time….both of those are massive abdominal surgeries! The recovery time can be insane…they say around 18 months is when you feel completely “normal” again if you don’t have any major complications and such, and you still often times have residual nerve pain. And the other thing is that with surgery, they like to use the mesh…………but a lot of people are having reactions to the mesh, which then results in terrible abdominal pain because the body is constantly trying to reject the mesh, yet it can’t be removed because fascial layers of tissue have already woven in, through, and over the mesh.)………..ugh. Anyways, as I continued to research, I found that a lot of women who did the Tuppler technique were raving about it until after the “designated time” that they were supposed to wear/do the exercises. I found that so discouraging. I know she mentions that some people will have to stick to that regiment for sometimes up to a year depending on the severity of the gap. So I had already told myself that I was going to be one of those people due to my large gap. And, I figured it’d be good to get in the habit of doing the exercises for life if I was going to keep my gap narrower/closed whether I got surgery in the end or not.

        But then I found a blog of a woman who was a physical trainer and she shared her story. The basics (that I can remember at the moment) were she had a gap, but not a huge one. She did the exercises, wore the splint, etc. She thought it was great until she took the splint off because everything went back to how it was and looking prego. She found this other method/system and got much better results from it. It’s called the MuTu System. After reading her description and all of the comments, it sounded like the exercises were different and incorporated more than just the Transverse Abdominis and there was no splint involved at all. It sounded more holistic in its approach in that you strengthened a variety of muscles without a splint so that everything worked together to produce results. I’m a Certified Rolfer, so that made sense to me and sounded more appealing. It also sounded like the exercises weren’t quite as time consuming, according to some comments. The MuTu System’s website is loaded with information and a bit hard to navigate in my opinion, whereas the Tuppler website is pretty easy and straight forward. So it took a while to even find the price (I think there were two options) and/or an understanding of how it was different than the Tuppler Technique. Providing that nothing has changed on the website or price, the more expensive option included a “diet plan” or lifestyle that I believe is mostly Paleo? Or paleo-ish? Because it’s not just about helping the DR, but also about getting rid of the “mommy tummy” that never seems to go away. And, of course, you get access to all the help, support, and facebook page where everyone encourages one another and such. So I’m going to try it either way. I have a few questions though. Is it possible that those who tried the Tuppler first may have had better results with the MuTu because the TA was already strengthened and had been engaged for a long time prior to starting MuTu? (Many who only did the MuTu also had good results supposedly, so maybe not.) Obviously if a woman loses weight, then there’s less pressure on the abdominal wall because the organs are able to stay further back and there’s less tissue pulling forward in general. So, that can help as well. But, I remember thin women with the Tuppler having issues after the “designated time” regardless of their size. So maybe losing weight is just an extra help for many women and obviously helps the self-esteem for many as well. But, if you don’t do the special diet/eating lifestyle, will you have the same results? I honestly couldn’t find any testimonies on the MuTu site (other than one at the time) where the person had a large DR and had good results. I’m sure they exist, but I searched the internet and only found a few testimonies here and there, but maybe they’re all on the facebook page. Who knows. I just wanted to see some before and after photos of those women with large DR and see people who were saying that 2 years later they’re still holding up, ya know? But, I’m probably asking for too much lol.

        It’s just frustrating to put in the time and effort and not know if there’s even a good chance for significant improvement. However, I like the point that Tuppler made….even if you only get it to narrow (and not close all the way) and still end up getting surgery, then at least your body is in a better position/place for the surgery, which is definitely true. While I don’t mind doing some of the exercises that are part of the Tuppler regiment, I absolutely hate the splint. I think it would be fine, but they seriously need to redesign it. The velcro is constantly coming undone right at my waist (obviously because it’s the narrowest space between the rib cage and pelvis and is all squishy organs….I get that.) but even worse than that is that there isn’t really enough room on the panel to adhere the velcro on the side where two pieces are supposed to go. It’s like they need to overlap (at least on my body) or one sticks out over panel and rubs my skin. I always wear a tank top under it, but the velcro “teeth” still poke through and hurt after a while. I do feel like my organs don’t spill out as much if I wear it at night, but that darn velcro rubs me or comes undone! haha So, I’m going to make some alterations to my splint by adding some fabric to the panel so that it will eliminate the skin rubbing and hopefully stick better since each velcro strip will have a better chance of sticking. I bought extenders because I was just on the border of possibly needing them, but they don’t seem to help in my case. I’ve tried other wraps that seemed more supportive, especially when my abdomen or lower back are hurting a lot. But I honestly don’t know if the splint that Tuppler offers even really does much in bringing the “two sides” of the muscle closer together, unless it stays on properly I suppose? I’ve tried bringing the two sides in closer with my hands and that’s tough enough, so I’m pretty sure that the splint doesn’t do that (ya know how she suggests pulling your “skin/muscle” a certain way as you wrap) but it does help the organs from spilling completely out. So, that’s probably good for night time when I’m not consciously engaging my TA.

        Do you feel the same way? Btw…the last time I measured my gap, it was 6-7 fingers easily in the middle with a very thin gulley, can feel the pulse of my organs and all that jazz.

        Sorry for the length of this comment/reply. I just wanted to be candid with what I’ve found because I’m amazed at how many doctors don’t know about DR or aren’t well-educated about it and so many of us are on a journey trying to figure out the best way to get better and/or live with it without it affecting our lifestyles in a negative way :) And I suppose I could have replied with one simple sentence: Look up the MuTu System. haha But, I didn’t :)

        • I’m going to look it up right now! My splint constantly comes undone where the velcro attaches too. It drives me crazy. Best of luck!

          • Sounds good! Let me know your results if you decide to do it and I’ll do the same! :)

          • Hey! Did you see it’s half off through Monday? I’m getting it today!

          • Julie! I didn’t see that sale until I got your replied message – THANK YOU! I just got it today too. I got the full program. (I might as well do it all or at least see the whole package.) I also got the Kit thing (Although it was spendy and I figured I could have found something that would have worked, I decided to do it by the book.) Oh well, I’m all in! AND…I should add that they definitely re-did their website. That was SOOOO much easier to navigate than the last time I looked at it! I also like that she added some more research and information as well as the tidbit about collagen as that has been something I have been researching on my own and was going to add to my everyday diet. I’m staying positive and going to give this a whirl….because what’s the alternative? Thanks again for the heads up! I’m going to pass the sale on to some other women who I had told about it.

            Here’s to getting better without constantly wearing that darn splint! *cheers* :)

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