Diastasis Recti and Constipation | Two Common Postpartum Body Challenges

Constipation is very common after labor and childbirth.

Guest Blog By Kim Vopni, The Vagina Coach

There are two things that I will never forget about the early hours after giving birth to my first son – Diastasis Recti and Constipation.

I remember how disconnected my upper body felt from my lower body when I got up to go to the bathroom for the first time after my baby entered the world.  I felt like I had to hold myself together.  What was a fairly tight compact part of my body, was now a vacant space with very little tone.  The muscles in my abdominal wall had stretched well beyond their normal, optimal length and the rectus muscles (think 6 pack) had also moved away from their midline position – a condition known as diastasis recti.  

Two images of abdominal muscles, one showing diastasis recti

As I sat down to pee, I had a sudden panic attack knowing that at some point I was also going to have to poop!  

The thought of that first bowel movement after giving birth is almost scarier than the birth itself! This fear coupled with other influences I will elaborate on below, can contribute to postpartum constipation.  

Diastasis Recti and constipation are very common and with the right information, can be very well managed and don’t have to be a big deal in the early postpartum period or beyond.  Let’s look first at constipation.

Castor Oil improve your digestion

POSTPARTUM CONSTIPATION

Once the baby is born, we as parents start to diligently record every feed and every poop our baby makes.  What no one really thinks about is that the new mom would benefit from having someone do the same for her.  Nutrition is a key element of postpartum healing and can play a huge role in healing and nourishing the body as well as managing bowel movements therefore reducing the likelihood of constipation.

Labour typically slows down the digestive system, especially if you had an epidural and it can take a few days to get back on track.  Other things that can influence the digestive system in the early weeks postpartum are pain medications, iron supplementation and fear of pooping!  A lot happens in the pelvis and to the vagina, perineum and anus – things like tearing, stitches, tenderness and hemorrhoids.  The thought of anything else passing through can be a bit stressful to say the least.  Stress activates the ‘fight or flight’ response which reduces blood flow to the digestive system and can contribute to constipation.

From a Chinese medicine perspective the first system that needs to be addressed in postpartum healing is the digestive system.  The digestive system is responsible for transforming food into blood and energy and if digestion is off, then the body will not benefit from the food consumed and therefore not build the blood and energy needed for healing.  

Digestive System Diagram by Queen of the Thrones®

MOTHER ROASTING

It is also believed in Chinese Medicine that the body has ‘opened’ during pregnancy and birth and is therefore susceptible to ‘wind’ or ‘cold’.  New mothers have a 30 day period of “sitting in” where the mother does not go out and is instead served warm soups, stews, and broths that are easy to digest.

Korea has a 100 day period where the mother and child do not leave the home. In Japan, the mother and baby stay at the mother’s parent’s home for some pampering and one-on-one time with the baby. India and African nations include traditions of 10-40 day isolations where additional support is provided including massage, childcare and food preparation. 

Other practices from places like Malaysia include belly binding and hot stones on the abdomen to help cleanse it, close it and heal it. 

These practices not only allow the body time to recover from the trauma of giving birth but provide a period of mental rest that I firmly believe creates a solid foundation for mom and baby from day one.

BELLY BINDING

The belief of the need to ‘close’ the body is justified.  Diastasis Recti has been shown to happen to 100% of women in the third trimester and the gap between the muscles doesn’t always return to its pre-pregnancy state, nor does the connective tissue naturally regain its supportive tensioning role in the core. The muscles in the pelvic floor have also stretched and in some cases have been cut or torn which can contribute to challenges with core control and continence.

Belly wrapping or belly binding aims to provide temporary compression and support to the pelvis and abdominal wall in the early weeks postpartum when the muscles are temporarily hindered in their ability to contribute to core control.   

Belly Wrapping

The muscles and connective tissue in the abdominal wall and pelvis are key with regards to stability and control in our inner core but so are the bones and joints. In the pelvis, the shape of the bones provides what is called ‘form closure’ while the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue contribute to what is called ‘force closure’. During pregnancy biomechanical changes occur in the body which can reduce the effectiveness of both form and force closure such as;

  • Altered posture and load bearing;
  • Altered muscle length in the pelvic floor and abdomen (both longer and shorter) which results in reduced ability for muscle force production;
  • The role of relaxin and progesterone contribute to joint laxity and when the ligaments are lax it affects the force closure.
  • The abdominal muscles are stretched to allow space for the enlarging uterus, which can lead to loss of muscle tone and strength in the abdominal region and a compromised ability to produce tension in the thoracolumbar fascia, resulting in reduced force closure in the pelvis;
  • Diastasis recti is a distortion in the abdominal wall and can impair the function of the muscles including their role in posture and pelvic stability;
  • The transversus abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm and the pelvic floor are all anticipatory muscles of the core and are required for force closure in the pelvis – all are affected by posture and alignment changes in pregnancy
  • Intra-abdominal pressure – altered mechanics and alignment mean management of intra-abdominal pressure will change

INTRA-ABDOMINAL PRESSURE

We can’t talk about postpartum recovery and wrapping without talking about intra-abdominal pressure.

Intra-abdominal pressure is defined as the pressure within the abdominal cavity.  It is part of our core stability system.  We need some, but not too much and we need an ability to manage the varying pressures throughout the day. When we take a breath in, the diaphragm descends and there is a compression action on the abdominal contents which acts to stabilize the pelvis and spine.  We can have too much pressure such as a Valsalva maneuverer which is an inhale, then breath hold while bearing down.  This often results in a distended abdomen and can place pressure on the pelvic organs as well.  

The reverse can also be seen in a technique called “hypopressives” which decreases intra-abdominal pressure and results in a hollowing or concavity of the abdomen.  A reliance on one may result in a compromised ability to manage changes in intra-abdominal pressure such as during lifting or exercise.  

Crunches were given a bad rap because they cause an increase in intra-abdominal pressure but a study found that activities like standing up from a chair or downward dog pose in yoga actually created equal or greater increases in intra-abdominal pressure which suggests that managing intra-abdominal pressure is more about HOW a person performs a movement or exercise rather than the exercise itself.

Wrapping is often considered to be a practice that increases intra-abdominal pressure and it can when done incorrectly.  Wrapping is ideally done to temporarily contribute to force closure in the pelvis with some gentle hugging of the abdominal wall.  Many mistakenly wrap only the waist and wrap very tightly in hopes that it will help heal the gap between the abdominals (diastasis recti).  Instead it increases intra-abdominal pressure, it interferes with digestion and it restricts optimal breathing patterns which can prevent healing of the abdominal wall and pelvic floor and can also contribute to constipation.

My recommendations for postpartum recovery include principles that support rest and belly wrapping in the early weeks postpartum, core retraining with pelvic floor initiated movements, a balance between hyper and hypopressive exercise and nutrition that is based on the traditional practices of mother roasting to support optimal digestion.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, information or content expressed or made available by third parties, including information providers, are those of the respective authors or distributors. Neither Queen of the Thrones® nor any third-party provider of information guarantees the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content. This communication does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Information provided does not replace the advice of your health care practitioner. If you happen to purchase anything we promote, in this or any of our communications, it’s likely Queen of the Thrones® will receive some kind of affiliate compensation. Still, we only promote content and products that we truly believe in and share with our friends, family and patients. If you ever have a concern with anything we share, please let us know at care@drmarisol.com. We want to make sure we are always serving Our Queendom at the highest level.

How to Look & Feel Good NATURALLY

Dr. Marisol ND. Queen of the Thrones® trains you on how to look and feel good naturally

“It’s not what’s on the outside that counts.  It’s what’s on the inside that matters.”

How often have you heard this in your life?  It’s one of the most common sayings, but why don’t you believe it?  Why do you let your wrinkles, thigh dimples, or muffin top take control of your mind?  We let these trivial things take over how we live our lives, adding a considerable amount of stress and time to our daily routines. 

We try so hard to be like what we see in the movies, on TV, in magazines or on social media.  Now more than ever, we are told we need to look a certain way and this just makes us hyper-focus on what we can do to change our outer appearance.

Body Confidence

Something I’m so grateful for these days is the Body Confidence or Body Positivity Movement.  It may have started with Dove and the campaign for real beauty in the early 2000s, but now it is an outright movement, one that I’m so proud of and that I want to push forward!

Dr. Marisol N.D. Medical Mystic and Queen of the Thrones®

 Why do I want to push it forward?  Because in clinical practice I’ve seen people that are dealing with devastating diseases, some that are terminal, yet they are still hyper-focused on their weight or their physical imperfections!  How can this be?

Superficial Beauty Does Not Equal Happiness

 The reality is this is the norm and not the exception.  I remember my mother feeling the same way.  My sister, my friends, me too.  Over time, I’ve come to realize that all this pressure builds up an internal stressor so huge in our bodies, like a kettle about to boil over, and it only causes harm to our body, mind, and soul. 

The thing is, no one is ever happier once they achieve their superficial ‘goals’, because you just program yourself to want more of that ‘perfection’, and we experience symptoms of internal unrest, stress, and need for a change.

At the end of the day, when you really analyze your values and what you want in this life, how you look in your body is irrelevant.  It is simply the vessel for your spirit, soul, consciousness… whatever you want to call it.  Many patients who are dying finally understand this, but it’s too late. 

The damage has been done, the guilt, the stress, the internal unrest, not only makes us feel anxious but it also makes us sick.  Our bodies will keep on bringing up signs and symptoms, trying to give you a wake-up call.  Until you do, it’ll just keep on trying to remind you. 

Messages From Your Body

Symptoms are like little cries for help or love letters from your body.  They show up when your body or mind is in a state of unrest and imbalance, in hopes of snapping you out of these negative habits.

 The following are some common signs that your insides are struggling:

Feel happy in your own skin
  • Anxiety
  • Acne
  • Central weight gain 
  • Headaches
  • Excessive cellulite
  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • Blotchy complexion
  • Stronger appearance of stretch marks
  • Aging faster
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • IBS 

And so many more.

What’s super interesting to me is that the way you look on the outside and the things that you are trying to fight, really are impacted by what you think and feel on the inside.

So change your mind and your thoughts, and do things differently moving forward.  It’s easier than you think, it just takes repetition and practice.

How to Become More Comfortable in Your Skin

So here’s what I propose to help mold your mindset into a positive, nurturing environment for your body, mind, and soul.

1. Stimulus in Your Surroundings

Start surrounding yourself with more of what you want.  Body confidence.  I love Instagram for this because visual images are so powerful.  Follow influencing leaders who make you feel good in your own skin.  A few of my favorite people to follow are @thebirdspapaya, @yovana, @kenziebrenna, @iamtulin and @mikzazon, check them out – their content is incredibly real, authentic, and no bullsh*t about learning to love your beautiful body. 

The more you listen to their stories and how they work every day to love themselves wholly from the inside out will change the way you think about yourself.

Mirror work helps your self-esteem

2. Do Mirror Work

 This was popularized by the great Louise Hay.  You simply look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself.  You do this EVERY day, in EVERY single mirror you pass by. 

The hardest part about this is the first little while because for so many years you have been looking in the mirror and saying something negative about yourself, nit-picking every little thing that you want to change.  So trust me on this one, it will take practice.  Saying it out loud to yourself will be difficult at first but it is so effective and YOU are SO worth it.

 My first time, I bawled my eyes out as I started to say it and I couldn’t get it out.  Imagine, I couldn’t tell myself that I loved myself.  Gosh, this brings up tears and tingles all over my body.  But I promise you, if you commit to it, it will get better.

If this is too hard for you, the other option is to stick little notes everywhere that say ‘I love you’.  In the glove compartment or visor in your car, in your office drawers, or in your closet when you get dressed in the morning.

3. Stress-Savvy Balance

 We have to get the stress down in our system so that we keep moving in a forward motion (instead of bouncing back into your old way of being).  Stress and anxiety will whip you back into old habits so quick you won’t even know what happened.

 Whatever you do to build a strong stress response, make sure it is practiced regularly.  Some people pray, do yoga, meditate… these are all excellent practices to get into.  For me, my favorite is the Queen of the Thrones® Castor Oil Pack™ because it stimulates feel-good hormones like oxytocin (just like when you’re given a big hug) plus it helps me sleep well, poop well, and reduces bloating and anxiety.  It’s the foundational practice for the health of my mind, body, and soul, and it’s one of the first things that I recommend to all of my patients too.

The Power in Your Thoughts and Words

Stay present; focus on the here and now as much as possible.  Being mindful will work wonders on cultivating a positive mental and physical state.  Remember most of all, this life is a JOURNEY of self-discovery, not a destination.

It takes practice, time, love and gratitude to build confidence in yourself and truly realize that when you love yourself, others will love you too and it doesn’t matter how your outer appearance looks.

Queen of the Thrones practicing yoga

Make it your mantra, and every time someone notices how great you look or asks you what you’re doing and why, always reply with conviction in your words.

Don’t say the typical, “I’ve got more work to do”, or “I’m on a diet”, etc…  Say this instead, “Thanks, I do look good because I work hard to feel good on the inside.”  Because there is power in your words and every word you say, your mind hears, and these words become engraved into commands.  Looking good is just a side benefit to feeling good on the inside and thinking good thoughts about yourself!

Don’t forget to share this with your friends on social media, through email and to like us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to learn more about how to join the movement so that we can all have an improvement!


Disclaimer: Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, information or content expressed or made available by third parties, including information providers, are those of the respective authors or distributors. Neither Queen of the Thrones™ nor any third-party provider of information guarantees the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content. This communication does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Information provided does not replace the advice of your health care practitioner. If you happen to purchase anything we promote, in this or any of our communications, it’s likely Queen of the Thrones™ will receive some kind of affiliate compensation. Still, we only promote content and products that we truly believe in and share with our friends, family and patients. If you ever have a concern with anything we share, please let us know at care@drmarisol.com. We want to make sure we are always serving Our Queendom at the highest level.

References:
Walker SC1, Trotter PD2, Swaney WT2, Marshall A3, Mcglone FP4. C-tactile afferents: Cutaneous mediators of oxytocin release during affiliative tactile interactions? Neuropeptides. 2017 Aug;64:27-38. doi: 10.1016/j.npep.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Jan 19.

Arslan GG, Eşer I. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):58-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.04.004. Epub 2010 May 18.

Sorin Tunaru,a Till F. Althoff,a Rolf M. Nüsing,b Martin Diener,c and Stefan Offermannsa,d,1 Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 5; 109(23): 9179–9184. Published online 2012 May 21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201627109 PMID: 22615395

Andrade IM1, Andrade KM2, Pisani MX1, Silva-Lovato CH1, de Souza RF1, Paranhos Hde F1.Trial of an experimental castor oil solution for cleaning dentures. Braz Dent J. 2014 Jan-Feb;25(1):43-7.

 Badaró MM, Salles MM, Leite VMF, Arruda CNF, Oliveira VC, Nascimento CD, Souza RF, Paranhos HFO, Silva-Lovato CH. Clinical trial for evaluation of Ricinus communis and sodium hypochlorite as denture cleanser.J Appl Oral Sci. 2017 May-Jun; 25(3):324-334.

 Salles MM, Badaró MM, Arruda CN, Leite VM, Silva CH, Watanabe E, Oliveira Vde C, Paranhos Hde F. Antimicrobial activity of complete denture cleanser solutions based on sodium hypochlorite and Ricinus communis – a randomized clinical study.J Appl Oral Sci. 2015 Nov-Dec; 23(6):637-42.

Vieira C et al. .Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2000;9(5):223-8

What Does it Mean When Your Poop Floats?

Doctor Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones® mission is to help people unlock their body's secret code & heal their gut.

Why should you always look in the toilet bowl?

I have a habit.  It’s a scary habit to some, but for me, I know it’s the single best thing that I can do for my health.  I look down into the black hole on a regular basis.  This black hole, in a clockwise fashion, sucks away all of my worries.  (By worries, I mean the stench that is stinking up the room sometimes, not always).

The toilet bowl, or as I like to call it, the throne, is an integral part of every single person’s life.  It is something we all have in common.  Yep, everybody poops!

I’m here to set the record straight on the question of whether stools should float or sink, and the answer is: SINK!

Floating Jewels

So do you ever question what is happening inside of you when you see floating in the bowl?  No, I’m not talking about your morning cereal.  I’m talking about the toilet bowl and the submarine that was supposed to sink but instead is floating like a steamboat?!  Choo, choo!

If the natural, healthy thing is to sink, but yours doesn’t… What gives?  Read on to find out why this might be and the easy formula to help fix it!

Is my Problem Fat Malabsorption?

When your poop floats, it’s typically a sign that you’re having issues with fat.  I don’t mean the fat on your body, rather the fat present in food that your body’s trying to digest.

Fat is so very important for your system for many different reasons.  First of all, fat isn’t bad for you!  In the 1980s fat was villainized as badly as the Joker from Batman, and very wrongly so.  Yes, unhealthy, bad fats should be avoided, but good fats are crucial for your body to function well.

Doctor Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones® explains the relation between nutrition and digestion.

Here’s what healthy fats do for your body:

  • Fats feed all of the body’s cells and is needed for them to work properly
  • Fats help our skin look fresh and beautiful 
  • Fats feed your brain and make you happy! 
  • Fats trigger areas of our brain that help us to feel satisfied and “full” after a meal
  • Fats also help support our hormones, because our hormones are manufactured from fat

One of the most important jobs healthy fat has is:

It helps with transporting toxins out of the body. 

Why?  Because many toxins are fat-soluble.  Toxins such as heavy metals or xenoestrogens found in plastic disrupt hormones and the immune system and so much more.

Floating Poop… What Does it Mean?

So when your poops are floaters rather than sinkers, it’s usually a sign that you are: 

  1. Eating too much fat and not enough fiber to absorb it
  2. Having problems digesting and absorbing fats

Think of it like this.  In oceans, or in your sink with all of your dirty dishes, when there is an oil slick you see the oil floating on top of the water.  The poor wildlife (mostly birds) get covered in oil because they are floating on top of the water!

Should your poo sink or float?

So you know if your poop is floating, you have problems with fat, and it is even more severe if there is also an oil slick present in the toilet bowl. Also, the color of your poo is a sign of what is going on with the #1 thing that your body produces

Gallbladder Problems?

If you don’t have a gallbladder you lack bile, so floating poop will be normal for you. It is extremely difficult to properly absorb fat if you are missing yours (this is why I often caution against getting your gallbladder removed because fat is SO important to our bodies).

Turn your Floaters into Sinkers

Here are a few best practices to help you absorb your fats better and get those floaters turned into sinkers:

  1. Switch to good fats and avoid the unhealthy fats – go for coconut, olive and avocado oil more often 
  2. Before you eat, make sure to have your Queen of the Thrones® Grateful Dung™ Bracelet on and do your Daily Dining practice.  Name 3 things you are grateful for to get your gut ready to digest.
  3. Wear your Queen of the Thrones® Castor Oil Pack daily to optimize your digestion, absorption, and elimination (as well as improve how your gall bladder dumps bile)

So from now on, I want you to think fat is PHAT! (how my teenager says super cool!)

You want to absorb it because it keeps you beautiful, happy, and healthy.

Do it!

Also – Sinking vs. floating is just 1 of the valuable 11 Golden Nuggets to help you analyze your stools for potential nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances and digestive issues. To learn all about them and become your own digestive detective, download Doctor Marisol ND. e-book ‘Know Your Poo!‘ to help you analyze what your poo can tell you in terms of nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, digestive issues and more…

Don’t forget to share this with your friends on social media, through email and to like us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to learn more about how to join the movement so that we can all have an improvement!


Disclaimer: Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, information or content expressed or made available by third parties, including information providers, are those of the respective authors or distributors. Neither Queen of the Thrones® nor any third-party provider of information guarantees the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content. This communication does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Information provided does not replace the advice of your health care practitioner. If you happen to purchase anything we promote, in this or any of our communications, it’s likely Queen of the Thrones® will receive some kind of affiliate compensation. Still, we only promote content and products that we truly believe in and share with our friends, family and patients. If you ever have a concern with anything we share, please let us know at care@drmarisol.com. We want to make sure we are always serving Our Queendom at the highest level.

References:
Cheryl S. Watson, PhD,a Guangzhen Hu, PhD,a,b and Adriana A. Paulucci-Holthauzen, PhDc Rapid Actions of Xenoestrogens Disrupt Normal Estrogenic Signaling Steroids. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2015 Mar 1. Published in final edited form as: Steroids. 2014 Mar; 81: 36–42. Published online 2013 Nov 20. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2013.11.006

Arslan GG, Eşer I. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):58-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.04.004. Epub 2010 May 18