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The Perfect Diastasis Recti Brace!

NOTE:  The brace I reviewed in this post is no longer available.  I hope to add some other solutions to my Diastasis Recti From a Mom’s Perspective Page soon.  I had a reader suggest this brace from PainReliever.com as an alternative.

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I feel like shouting from the roof of my house!  FINALLY!  Finally, I’ve found a brace that covers my diastasis completely, stays put, isn’t too bulky, and is comfortable!  YIPPEE!

OK, a little background for those of you who don’t know what I am talking about…

About a year ago, I did something I swore I would never do…I posted pregnant belly pics.  For most people that’s no big deal.  For me, it was huge…literally.  I have what is called a diastasis recti, which means in layman’s terms a split in my stomach muscles.  My split is complete from top to bottom.  I always look pregnant to some extent.  It is a condition that is very difficult for me to deal with emotionally and physically. Someday I hope to have the surgery to correct it, but that someday is not now.

So, I told you in my Pregnant and Huge post that I wore something SIMILAR to the brace pictured there.  However, I didn’t realize how very UN-similar what I owned was to that brace until I actually purchased the brace in that post.  You see, the brace I did own was worn out.  I needed something new, so I ordered a new brace from PainReliever.com.  I was so excited to try this new brace because it looked so much sturdier than the one I did own.  The difference was drastic and utterly AMAZING!

See for yourself…

Notice the bulge?

The bulge is gone!

My diastasis recti brace is actually listed as a “back support brace”; however, it also lists abdominal compression as one of its attributes.  And boy, let me tell you, it works!  The brace is 9″ wide, so even the largest diastasis is covered by the brace.  The velcro on the brace is ultra strong and the extra straps help compress my muscles even more.

And it is comfortable!  Now that is saying a lot!  Most of the braces I’ve worn outside of pregnancy I want to take off the second I put them on.  This one I wear day after day and never feel that way.  I will admit my back does get a bit sweaty, but it doesn’t soak through to my shirt, so I can live with that.

I know the price may seem a bit steep, but if you have a diastasis recti, you know what life is like always fielding the “when are you due” questions, not having your clothes fit right, and always feeling uncomfortable.  The way I feel wearing this brace is well worth the $47.91.

**Through a wonderful series of events I was able to receive my diastasis recti brace for free; however, I would not hesitate to spend the money to get another one (and probably will once I lose enough weight to justify a smaller size).**

I just cannot say enough good about this brace and what it has done for me!  I feel like things are more “together”.  I can bend and lift and not worry about doing even more damage to my muscles. My clothes fit better, and I just feel better.  Thank you so much, PainReliever.com!  I could just hug you!

Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy Revisited

Visit the Diastasis From a Mom’s Perspective page!

Me at 33 weeks!

I really wanted to name this post Pregnancy Support Garments, but something about that just made cringe.  Why?  Probably because until now the only pregnancy support garments I’ve ever worn have been THE most uncomfortable things on the planet!  I really wanted nothing to do those three words!

However, my original post on my diastasis recti receives daily hits from women just like me.  I kind of feel like the national spokeswoman for diastasis recti!  Because of that, I wanted to address a few of the comments in the original post that are specifically pregnancy related and also tell you of a new development!

First off, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about continuing to have babies after a substantial split.  My split happened with my 4th child.  I have had 2 children since then and am pregnant with the 3rd.  For me, it has not been an issue to continue to have babies.  My OB did mention she had one patient who’s uterus almost completely flipped over due to a lack of stomach muscles!  And of course, you want to be sure there is no herniation.  However, for most women, a diastasis recti is completely harmless and does not hinder carrying a baby to term.

As I said in my original post, for me, the major side effect (besides the big ole belly!) is my babies have plenty of room to move and tend to go breech rather than head down.  This has created a need to turn my babies at the last minute to help me labor properly.

Another thing I have noticed is that it is much easier for me to wrench my muscles while pregnant.  Turning over in bed, bending over the wrong way, etc can cause more pulling and ripping in my already sorry excuse for stomach muscles.  That’s where my exciting news comes in!

 

Pregnancy Support Garments from ContourMD

You might have noticed the original post gives nothing in the way of support DURING pregnancy.  The reason was as I stated earlier…I had yet to find anything I felt I could endorse because they were all sooooo uncomfortable.  And honestly, what pregnant lady wants to be even more uncomfortable than she already is?

Enter ContourMD!

I can’t even tell you how I ended up on their site, but I know it was after searching and searching and searching for something that looked comfortable and was also something I hadn’t already tried. 

My OB suggested I look for something that helped to pull my stomach muscles together, rather than simply support the underneath side of my belly as so many pregnancy support garments are designed to do.  So, as I searched ContourMD’s site, that is what I had in mind.

The three I chose are the ones in the pictures above.  You can find them in more detail here:

Contour Over Belly Panty
Contour Support Belt (which is really more like a panty-less version of the first one)
Strong Support Maternity Belt (there is also a medium support belt)

The first 2 do not offer the level of support I truly need; however, they are the most comfortable support garments I have EVER worn! In fact, I would recommend these be worn to bed (yes, they ARE that comfortable!)  Because of needing to turn over in bed and tax your already weak stomach muscles, wearing something like this that is comfy, yet provides a level of support too is perfect for bedtime!

Now, the Strong Support Belt does offer the level of support my severe diastasis needs.  It isn’t uncomfortable like most support belts I’ve worn.  There is a wide band that goes across your back and then a velcro portion that goes under the belly.  This offers support both to your back and stomach muscles as well as holding your belly in place.  I’ve found my favorite way to wear the belt is to combine it with one of the other two support garments for maximum comfort and support.

So, if you are dealing with diastasis recti, please do your exercises, be careful not to tax your stomach muscles too much, and check out ContourMD’s support garments!

Disclosure: I contacted ContourMD & asked to test the 3 garments in the hopes of finding something I could recommend to readers.  I am so thankful they have worked out so well!

Looking for more information on diastasis recti?  Check out my Diastasis Recti page:

I’m Pregnant and Huge – A Diastasis Recti Story

I said I would NEVER do this.

But, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there are other mamas out there dealing with what I have dealt with for several years and several pregnancies.  Maybe this will help…even if all it does is help you know you are not alone.

OK, so what would I never do?  Post a belly shot early in pregnancy.  But, here it is:

This is me at 9 weeks.  Scary, huh?

Why do I look so huge so early?  Same reason I look pregnant most all the time…I have what is called a diastasis recti.  The basic definition of this condition is a split in the stomach muscles, but you can find a more in depth definition here.

For some women, some simple exercises will completely heal a diastasis.  For this, I highly recommend Julie Tupler’s Lose Your Mummy Tummy
book (you can visit Julie’s actual site at www.maternalfitness.com where she has several other books and products I know nothing about, but might be of interest).  However, even she says that a diastasis of my severity won’t be fixed with her methods (although I do see some closure when I use her exercises).  Someday I will need surgery to pull the muscles back together.

You might be wondering how to check for a diastasis.  It’s actually very easy.
1.  Lie on your back on the floor.
2.  Put your fingertips near the center of your belly (horizontally above your belly button).
3.  Curl up as if doing a crunch.
4.  Feel with your fingertips the center of your belly.  Is there a gap?  If so, how many fingerwidths is it?  Diastasis is measured in fingerwidths placed side by side.  Mine is usually somewhere between 6-8.

Julie Tupler says even a diastasis as bad as a 5 can be repaired.  Beyond that, you can only work to strengthen those muscles and consider surgery at some point.  {UPDATE:  Last time I spoke with Julie, she said an even larger DR can be repaired using the technique.}

OK, so what is the bulge you see that most people would assume is a 6 month pregnant belly?  What I am about to tell you is not for the weak-stomached…

It’s my internal organs bulging out.  There are no stomach muscles to hold them in place, so they sort of just flop out there.  Gross, I know.

Is it dangerous?  No.

Is it uncomfortable?  Sometimes.

Is it embarrassing?  Yes.

I always say I look better pregnant because at least the bulging belly doesn’t look out of place.  When I’m not pregnant I wear a brace.  Not the one Julie Tupler sells (she calls it a splint), because it isn’t wide enough (my diastasis is complete, from top to bottom).  I wear something similar to this:

diastasis recti brace from PainReliever.com
NOTE: I now own this exact brace and it is THE BEST diastasis brace I have ever found!  Read more about it HERE.

{UPDATE:  Julie sells a different splint from what she was selling when I first wrote this post.  She also now sells a different splint from the one I talk about in my Tummy Chronicles posts.  I liked the splint she sold when I was doing the Tummy Chronicles, but it did give out before the 18 weeks was up.  Her new design was meant to correct that but I have not tried it myeself.

In addition, I have also stopped wearing the PainReliever brace and now only wear a high-waisted girdle-type compression garment.  I realized I was not holding in my stomach muscles while wearing a brace or splint and that wasn’t helping me much.}

I have to choose my clothing carefully.  Jeans don’t fit well and shirts have to be long enough and loose enough to cover properly.  I don’t wear dresses because they are not tailored enough.  I try to wear shirts that have something interesting going on near my face to keep the focus off my belly.  Other than that, I just put up with the comments.

It is what it is.

OK, so how does this translate into later pregnancy?  Well, I get huge.  No, not the kind of huge the rest of you get.  I mean HUGE.  With no stomach muscles to hold in my growing uterus, it too just flops out there and I end up looking like this:

Photobucket
Note:  I was still 2 months from delivery!

In addition to just looking huge and miserable, I also now have to deal with babies who do not stay in place.  My last two babies have been transverse breech.  Their birth stories can be found HERE and HERE.

Because there are no stomach muscles to help the uterus stay in place, the baby can swim and flip freely even when said baby is over 10 pounds!

Recently, I found a pregnancy support garment that is comfy and pulls my muscles together.  It is from ContourMD:

It’s their strong support maternity belt and it supports the underneath side of your belly as well as helping to pull those loosey-goosey stomach muscles into a better position.  I’ve noticed my belly is considerably “rounder” when I am wearing the garment.  Plus, it is an easy-on, easy-off thing, unlike so many other strong support garments designed for pregnancy.

So, how did my diastasis get so severe and what can you do to avoid what has happened to me?

First off, I’ve never had strong stomach muscles.  This was probably inevitable.

Also, diastasis happens to some degree to all women during pregnancy and a severe diastasis can happen to you no matter how many children you’ve had or what their birth weight was.

You can follow the exercises in Lose Your Mummy Tummy, you can wear some sort of support through pregnancy, and you can be careful how you move (that is explained more in Tupler’s book as well), and once you’ve had your baby, you can get to work closing the gap.

Things not to do:
pilates,
sit-ups and crunches,
carrying a car seat (the book explains this better than I can, but at all costs avoid carrying that pain-in-the-stomach car seat with baby in it!)

I’m anxious to some day have the surgery to bring my muscles back together, but until then, these are the battle wounds I bear.  I am a mother many times over…the bulging belly is worth it all!

{UPDATE:  After hearing what all the surgery entails, I really don’t think I’m up to it!  I do believe I can get “good enough” results from the Tupler Technique and my understanding is that the surgery isn’t a cure-all and the muscles can split again.}

Visit my Diastasis Recti Page!