Well I've done it – I've gone through almost a whole week in the Tupler Diastasis Rehab program.
Let me be completely honest with you: it has NOT been fun! Nope. Not one bit. Splinting a diastasis recti is not comfortable. Knowing that I need to come report on my progress helps me stick with it – and the thought of being out of pain and in better shape for a pain-free pregnancy in the future is a big motivation. But ladies (and gents) – this takes some willpower and discipline.
I often find myself helping Cassidy and Asher overcome difficult tasks in their schoolwork by encouraging them to just keep trying, just keep pushing until they overcome. I know I need to take my advice in this! I'll stick with it, but it is not easy.
The splint is really uncomfortable! It's made to hold your muscles in place, not to make a flatter tummy. I promised pictures, so here they are (again, please forgive phone camera photos). I normally wear the splint over a nursing camisole during the day, but here I'm wearing it over a Bellaband. I normally wear it over the BellaBand at night because I don't wear a camisole to bed.
As you can see, the splint rolls a little. Ladies farther along in the program than I am assure me that as you get farther in and your diastasis starts to close, the rolling becomes less of a problem.
I think the biggest issue for me with the splint is how my skin/tummy fat pops up over the top and bottom of it. It makes me feel really self-conscious! I also know that this will go away, but it's hard. Some women choose to wear two splints to help compress this. If you have a really large diastasis it's also recommended that you wear two splints. See the bottom of this post for a video on how the splint works.
Update: The splint has been redesigned and now offers more support so two splints aren't needed. I prefer this redesigned version to the old one!
You're supposed to splint 24/7 while the diastasis is open. I've been in so much pain that I'm committed to that, despite the discomfort. Bonnie, a certified trainer in the Tupler Technique, also credits consistent splinting to helping her completely close her diastasis after baby #4 quicker than she did after baby #3. Check out her blog entry (and an amazing flat mama tummy!)
The first few days of the program my muscles HURT. They were really sore from getting a ton more work than usual and the splint holding them somewhere they were not used to being! The pain was the same pain you get after you do any physical work you're not used to. I've never really minded that pain too much – it's always felt nice to me to know I'm using my body. But it's still pain and it can still make my temper a lot shorter than it usually is.
At least though, it's pain with a purpose, not my usual pain 😉
Doing the exercises and getting acquainted with my abdominal muscles has made me much, much more aware of how I'm using them (and how I wasn't using them).
On the Lose Your Mummy Tummy DVD Julie recommends that you learn to always be aware of and use your transverse muscle (the tummy muscle we're working out). I've found that doesn't seem as intimidating as it sounds, because I'm constantly focusing on those muscles. I think the splint helps in this since it's generally annoying me, lol. It keeps me thinking of those muscles.
Amy at Raising Arrows just did an update on some setbacks she's experienced and she notes that she realized she always needs to think of how she moves her body and uses those muscles. This is so true for me, too.
I need to think of how I get out of a chair, out of bed, and into the van. I need to think about how I'm lifting and carrying. I need to think about how I do everything! This sounds overwhelming and it is a bit – but really it's just a moment-by-moment awareness of how and why I'm using my muscles. It's changing habits that hurt my tummy muscles into habits that help.
This makes me stronger – so I'll have less pain, and I'll be more active and a healthier mama for my children. And, hopefully, I won't hurt so much during another pregnancy.