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 Be More Mindful | Body-Connection Movement

mindfulness and body connection by Doctor Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones®

Consciousness is the greatest gift that we have ever been given. You may not even realize it, but it’s probably the most important thing that we have; our most valued possession that separates us from other mammals – blue blooded reptiles, birds, plants and all other beautiful living things created by the source of life. 

Consciousness is like having the great big white light flow through our bodies. It is a gift from the divine, the ability to utilize our senses to look, feel, smell, taste, hear, intuit, and turn all of those exquisite, brilliant sensations into ideas that then create reality. 

Consciousness is about thinking about the possibility of what can be. As Stephen Covey states in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Everything is created twice, first in your mind and again in reality.”

That is the power of consciousness and awareness. 

Dr. Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones® teaching about consciousness Without conscious thought, we would still be living in the Savannah hiding out in caves without all of the incredible modern advances that we have now. So please, don’t spoil or waste this gift that we have all inherited. 

Instead, I want to encourage you. If you have been feeling disconnected, alone, isolated, or unsure of what your body is doing – like it’s working against you and not for your greater good – I want you to lean into this and take the lessons from it so you can become the best that you can be. All it takes is time and practice. 

Practice what? You may be asking.

Mindfulness Practice: Body-Connectedness

Thoughts become your reality (whether you’re thinking good things or bad). So when we want a positive reality, we need to think about these positive thoughts more often. We want to train our mind to observe what our body is telling us, and then have our mind think of what we want more often. 

This is how we can become conscious and connected to our body. This is the reason why the very first thing I teach people in my clinical practice is: “What does your poo say about you?”. It’s because this serves as the first and easiest step to developing your body-consciousness. Not in an obsessive or unhealthy way either, but in a way that allows and observes… plus, pooping is something that you (hopefully) do everyday.

Learn about the body-connection movement with Dr. Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones®To create a habit or practice, it needs to be repeated daily1. I like the term body-connectedness; there’s no negative connotation as there may be with body-consciousness.

So let’s start a body-connection movement, where we learn how to listen and interpret all of the beautiful and important messages that our body gifts us. Let’s move on, because as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

What is Body-Connectedness? 

It is the ability to be aware of what is going on inside our bodies. 

You wouldn’t believe how many people are so disconnected. I was, and sometimes I still am. You have been, and sometimes you still are. How do I know this? Because I am not only an examiner of popular culture, but I am also a naturopathic doctor; I have an intimate connection with the inner workings and understanding of my patients and this is where I see a major gap. 

Especially when they first come in to see me. 

It’s a constant job. Directing our thoughts into our awareness, and frankly, many of us are not highly skilled or trained. Quite the opposite actually… We are highly distracted and disconnected. 

Being disconnected goes something like this:

  • You block the gut feelings that you get
  • You avoid feeling what is happening in your body, mind and soul by distracting yourself with habits and addictions (such as drugs, booze, food, sex, and anything else you can think of – disrupting your ability to have awareness and create new habits2)

Having body-connectedness bring us back to our beginning. Our root and our core feelings are an understanding of what the signs and symptoms our bodies are telling us. 

Because as Oprah’s favorite author, Maya Angelou, says:

“When you know better, do better.”

Understand the importance of body-connectedness with Dr. Marisol ND., Queen of the Thrones®

Many of us are walking around not knowing.  It’s time to get in the know of your body. It is your one and only temple gifted to you along with your consciousness. 

Let’s find out what the messages are that we receive from the body… the signs and symptoms.

What is a Symptom 

From a medical perspective, I see patients and ask them how they are feeling.  When they recount what is going on, they are telling me about their symptoms. 

Symptoms are like storytelling about your daily life experience and how you are feeling in your body. These symptoms are super valuable, and it’s important to become aware, conscious, and connected to what is occurring in your body. 

Examples of symptoms include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Brain fog
  • Sadness
  • Difficulties pooping
  • Cravings
  • Itching
  • Sleep issues
  • B*tchiness

The list goes on! These are all expressions of what is going on within the body.

What is a Sign

Signs are not so much our experience but rather what you or someone else can objectively see. 

Examples of signs include:

  • Acne
  • Itchy and inflamed skin
  • Bloated belly
  • Loose stools
  • Trembling or shaking

My job on this earth is to help you have body-connectedness and to put it in socially relatable words. As Ace of Base said, “I saw the sign” and you should also be seeing your signs daily.

So What Does This Mean To Us?: Your Next Steps 

It means let’s take the first step in the “I love me” department and learn what your body is trying to tell you. Let’s learn how to connect to it and become conscious of the cries for help and the love letters it sends us.

1. Download my guide the 50 Shades of Poo, and begin this journey. The very first and best way to learn about your body is in the most crucial of functions: your poo. 

It isn’t number 2, but rather the number 1 product that your body produces and as such it’s the gateway to body-connectedness. Plus, it’s accessible and it’s easy to measure all of its characteristics.

2. Wear your Queen of the Thrones® Castor Oil Pack™. This ancient health practice helps connect the body and spirit, while supporting bowel movements, microbiome balance, cleansing and so much more.

So it’s time to show up in your skin and learn the signs that your body is showing you. Show up, take notes, and learn what you can do about it. 

Life, after all, is a journey of discovery and you are in charge of the direction that you go in.

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!
xoxo

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:
1 Knowlton BJ1, Patterson TK2. Habit Formation and the Striatum. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2018;37:275-295. doi: 10.1007/7854_2016_451.

2 Renteria R, Baltz ET, Gremel CM. Chronic alcohol exposure disrupts top-down control over basal ganglia action selection to produce habits.Nat Commun. 2018 Jan 15;9(1):211. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02615-9.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Doctor Marisol ND, Queen of The Thrones® speaks about Hispanic heritage

Ay chihuahua, arriba!!! It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month.  This is the month we celebrate the glory of our culture and the colourful life of living with Latin flair.

I am enormously proud of my heritage, also enormously proud of my here and now, coming from a mother who is Uruguayan and a father who’s Spanish, I grew up in a home that was full-on spicy, colorful and incredibly loud and passionate.

You see, Hispanics are passionate and loving by nature.  Every Hispanic I meet, I greet them as my hermana (sister) or hermano (brother), because hey, they are family!  We all come from the same roots.  Our conversations often sound like we are fighting but we are not, we are just so all-in, so involved, so emotional that our voices come out unable to be quieted.  We are full-on in everything that we do.  We are strong and proud souls.Dr. Marisol ND, Queen of the Thrones® celebrates the National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Beyond the incredibleness of our culture, Latinos have had their fair share of struggles and challenges.  One that hits me very close to home is that within the Hispanic community, 21% have issues with digestion, IBS, constipation, or some kind of problem going to the bathroom.  This is by far the highest percentage as compared to caucasians at 14%, Asians 7% and the world average at 14%.

When I found out this statistic I was shocked but I can’t say I was surprised.  Our home was one constant conversation about going to the bathroom.  My mother would call me in to inspect her creation (it’s probably where my love for the examination of poo was instigated).  My mother was chronically constipated and always looking for things to make her “correr”, the Spanish word for run; meaning run to the bathroom.  My father on the other hand, was always looking to slow things down, he suffered from irritable bowel type diarrhea. 

Doctor Marisol ND, Queen of The Thrones® and Medical MysticWhy does the Latino/Hispanic community tend to struggle with IBS, constipation and digestive problems more than their counterparts?  It could be the foods we are eating, the classic heavy starch diet with rice, beans, and corn (for those from Mexico and Central America), or the heavy meat diets of Argentina and Uruguay, but maybe that isn’t the reason at all.

What if it’s more about the fact that we are so passionate, so expressive, that we wear our emotions on our sleeves?  If digestion is how we are digesting our lives and emotions, is it not possible that because we are so emotive, and our digestive system is the emotionally sensitive system, (think gut feelings) that this is the true reason we have these problems?

Our emotions and how we feel about ourselves and our lives are expressed in how we go (or don’t go) to the bathroom.

Even though we deal with these problems, I’m so proud of the impact that Hispanics are having in this world, yours truly included.  And I want to highlight four fiery, fierce and fabulous women who have inspired my life and I know probably inspire yours, too.

#1: Jennifer Lopez

The movie star, singer, dancer and mogul.  Titan of the entertainment world, JLo came from a humble beginning in the Bronx.  Remember Jenny from the Block?  She struggled to get her first big break because her body was, well, a little ‘too booty’.  Ironic, because now this is her well-known trademark and likely what helped to propel all of her multiple talents to the heights of all of her achievements. 

How did this happen?  When others are told they have a big butt, they get down on themselves and get it cut off.  Not Jenny from the Block, she owned it, loved it, accepted it and even though they said it was a problem, she worked through it. 

Today she is the epitome of success, the siren of seduction and probably one of the women in Hollywood that I admire the most.  She knows who she is and what she wants out of her life, she is owning her throne!

#2 Yovana Mendoza

She may not be a household name quite yet, but this Mexican American instagram influencer is making waves in the self acceptance, self love and body confidence movement.  She has created her own stardom, by sharing her journey and empowering others to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.  All of the content she shares is in English and Spanish, to as to include both communities and languages.  Pretty amazing!

Recently her branding changed from Rawvana to Yovana.  She was a promoter of the vegan lifestyle, but was seen eating meat at a local establishment and was harassed over the internet.  The reality is she needed to change her diet for her health.  Some things work great for you and in certain seasons of life, and sometimes they don’t as your body changes and evolves.  She is reinventing herself and I am just blown away by her strength, authenticity and wisdom. 

I love that she preaches to be conscious of the signs thats your body is showing you (just like analyzing your stools like I love to talk about).  Way to represent your 1.2 million followers.  Own your throne baby!  Latina power!

#3 Jolene Brighten 

Brilliance is all I can say for this Latina.  She is the master of post-birth control syndrome, a condition that affects the majority of women who come off of the pill to some degree.  She knows hormones like nobody’s business.  Better than that, is her dedication and determination to how women’s health is cared for.   

Her book ‘Beyond the Pill’ is a great read and with very valuable information that I feel that every woman should know, especially those of us with young daughters who may consider taking birth control at some point in their life.

#4 Mariza Snyder

There is no one brighter.  Six time published author, speaker, and essential oil and hormone balance Queen.  Mariza’s smile lights up a room.  She makes it a regular habit to train 40,000-50,000 people in huge stadiums on how to balance their hormones with essential oils. 

She is the master of using essential oils as a vehicle to change the world. Her newest book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, is another great for women everywhere.  Her spicy and loving vibe is one that you’ll be attracted to for sure.

Doctor Marisol ND, Queen of The Thrones® expert of Castor Oil Packs

Jessica Alba, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias, Julio Iglesias, Salma Hayek, Cameron Dias. All Latinos that I look up to and there are so many more!

So we do this, “si se puede”, like the farm workers of America, it’s been ingrained in our DNA.  The will to be better, to fight through.  For me, this is where my passion for Castor Oil Packs ignited.  I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my roots.  I worry not for Hispanics that have these digestive problems because I know they will own the struggle, and figure out a way to be grateful with the grind and get better.

So, let’s celebrate the incredible Hispanic heritage, that brings us chihuahuas, tacos, burritos, and Jane the Virgin!

Let’s own and celebrate it, and don’t forget to practice health!

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.