Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Diriva... divafira... weird muscle thing (or another thing you only find out about once you're pregnant!)

Pregnancy is an extraordinary and magical experience. It never ceases to amaze me just how amazing the human body is, and I loved finding out about every little and not-so-little step my body was taking in order to create new life.
Once you become pregnant, this whole new world opens up and suddenly, you find out about some of the pregnancy truths that no one never told you about until then aka it's too late to back out now so you might as well be told now... "I am going to do what now in labour?!". Even now, my mum still lets out hidden truths about motherhood she never told me before and Siena is almost three! For you lovely ladies trying to get pregnant or already pregnant, do not worry, it's part of the fun and ultimately, the moment you get pregnant, you may as well leave most of dignity behind you for a little while, or at least for the duration of pregnancy and the first few years of your baby's life! For you other mamas out there, you know what I am talking about, some more than others no doubt!
Although there are countless things that could form the subject of this post, today I am talking about Divarification. A word I still struggle to pronounce, and which isn't even recognised by my spellcheck. Essentially, this means separation of the abdominal muscles for you and I. Supposedly, this happens to a large proportion of women during pregnancy, however I could only find a very limited amount of information on the internet when searching for it.
I first noticed something a little weird with my bump when I was pregnant with Siena, when I would get up from lying down, my bump would seem to "dome" upwards. I thought this looked weird but then most things in my pregnancy felt weird and new and so I did not point this out to the midwife. I also assumed that they would pick up on anything important so naively left it to that.
Due date arrived and I went on to have an emergency C-section after a three day labour as the little missus was no where to be seen despite being two weeks overdue/induced/etc... et voila! a beautiful bambina was born!
Now, I was pretty big when pregnant with Siena... as demonstrated by the photo below, although I did get bigger in the 7 weeks that followed (I just love this photo my friend took of me!).
35 weeks pregnant with Siena...
Siena was born weighing 8lbs15/4.05 kg which I considered a fairly reasonable size considering I am only 5ft2! But then this happened....

 At the hospital, waiting for the c-section

I was ginormous! All bump, but a really, really big one! I kept asking the midwife whether it was likely my baby would be big as Siena was big and...well... I was massive, even maternity clothes didn't fit me by the end! But I was told not to worry and that all would be well. I had done a diabetes test and that had been negative. Well... Due date arrived, once again the bambino no where to be seen... two weeks go by... still nothing... I decided against being induced as personally, there was a risk that if being induced with Siena hadn't work previously, the same could happen again i.e. three day labour followed by emergency C-section. Therefore I elected for a C-section, which went amazingly well (can't fault the staff at St Michael's hospital in Bristol, they were great each time!) .... et hop! another beautiful bambino:
Hugo weighed 10lbs09 / 4.800kg! The first thing the surgeon said was "woooooow! Look at those cheeks!" More wooooooows followed when he was weighed too. But all was well, one big(!) healthy baby!
Now, I mentioned previously I am only petite, and I was huge in pregnancy. Now we know why! This had an effect on my poor muscles as they simply could not cope and separated. Indeed, divafi... diriva... Divarification is when the rectus muscles separated leaving a groove in the midline, and occasionally a bulging lower abdomen. This is known as "divarification of the rectus muscles".
It was pretty intimidating at first, as essentially the doctor told me after the surgery that I had a gap between 4 - 6 cm between my muscles which meant I might feel my bowels and other organs from time to time, as technically, there wasn't much to protect them back then. I had just had surgery, and frankly, was a little freaked out but this. I would also stare at my stomach in the mirror worrying it would never sort itself out as it looked really weird and not at all how it did after I had Siena. But Barry kept reassuring me, telling me to give it time, and I feel much better about it already.
I have also been seeing the physiotherapist to try and resolve this, and my muscles are slowly getting back together (yay!). Up until now, all I have had to do is relearn how to hold my stomach in, as you were taught in ballet. I used to do this naturally but when pregnant with Siena, I realised it was more comfortable to "let go", and I have not picked up this habit since, until now. Sometimes, exercise alone may not be sufficient and surgery may be required but I am not there yet. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I was told yesterday that I am now able to start exercising again as long as I take it gently... I guess that means I'll need to start training for April then..
Was there anything you found out about pregnancy you did not know about until you became pregnant? Did you suffer from divarification too? I'd love to hear from you! 
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*
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