New here: hernias, handstands, and other odds-n-ends!



I am new here and taking advantage of the Valentine's sale to get started. I've spent quite a bit of time on the website and find it very helpful both as an individual and as a doula. Thank you, Christine, for this excellent content!

A short note about me: I'm mid-thirties, 4 kids/4 vaginal deliveries (3 at home under midwife care, all relatively easy with no tears, etc.). I don't plan to have more children. I started looking into this site when I realized I probably was developing a rectocele. I had been occasionally splinting for a while since baby 4 was born, having no idea this was a "thing" that others did to deal with rectocele. I stumbled across the information somehow, then came to WW to get educated. I also have relatively mild stress incontinence. I also have some degree of diastasis rectii, and an umbilical hernia.

I plan to seek medical advice for an UMBILICAL hernia. I have had one since my first pregnancy. Since my most recent birth (2.5) years ago, I have discovered a second hernia along the midline, about 1-2 inches above the umbilical hernia. My big fear is that these two weak places will gradually move towards each other and meet, creating a big giant hernia. I actually have dreams of waking up and discovering this has happened, so clearly it's freaking me out.

I'd like to know if Whole Woman has any general position on umbilical hernias and their repair. I realize no one can offer specific medical advice, just wondering if there is any general guideline on this.

NEXT: I read recently on Christine's blog that she recommends learning headstands! Now, for no real reason at all, I had sort of set this as a motivational goal for myself this year- to work on head stands and maybe move to handstands as well. I'm curious to know what Christine recommends them. When I read about gymnastic handstands, I read about something called the "hollow body" position, which seems to be the opposite of WW positioning- the idea is to flatten the curved spine and tighten the abs. Obviously this position is meant to be maintained while doing gymnastic moves such as a headstand or L sit, but I'm curious if Christine recommends NOT using a hollow body hold while practicing these gymnastic moves. I wonder if this is related to the male physiology bias and if female gymnasts do otherwise.

So, those are my two questions and my introduction! Thanks for reading this and I wish you all a very nice day. From Switzerland,



Hi Harmonica,

First of all, good for you for knowing how to splint - it always amazes me that women instinctively know how to do this.

I really can’t predict what course the abdominal hernias might take, nor advise you on treatment. The good news is, surgery on the abdominal wall is nothing like vaginal surgery. That they even call vaginal bulges “hernias” is ridiculous.

I can encourage you to learn about how intraabdominal pressure moves through your torso naturally to create and maintain the structural shape of your body and the positions of all your organs. I can also encourage you to trust in the strength of your rectus sheath as you learn to redirect internal pressures in perhaps a healthier way than you have in the past - at least while you are sorting out your medical treatment. A strong abdominal wall is pulled up, never in (of course we do exercise the full range of motion of these body walls).

Ha! I think you are referring to the one blog post where I suggested young women work on perfecting their handstand. We all loved handstands as kids and they are marvelous, natural exercise. However, I have not included them in the WW work (yet?)

I would never flatten my lumbar curve while upside down. The natural spring created by spinal curvatures works in both directions! The best place to see this is to watch serious hand walkers (YouTube has a bunch of videos on the subject), who only stay upright for long distances because of profound curvature in their lumbar spine - the men as well as the women.

Yes, the instruction to “suck and tuck” is ubiquitous in our culture and one can only imagine how all these arts and sports would be different if athletes trained in their natural shape.

Welcome to Whole Woman!


Thanks, Christine, for your response!

I'm happy to hear that abdominal repair isn't as devastating as pelvic floor surgeries. Because both use surgical mesh, I was a bit freaked out, though my reading does seem to indicate that hernia repair is relatively safe, with the biggest issue being recurrence. I will continue to read and research on this.

Yes, I was referring to the post where handstands just get a brief mention. :-) Still, I felt it was a good sign since I'd already decided to work on that! Here is a link to an image of the handstand "dilemma" I'm talking about:

The left image is the gymnastic handstand and the right I guess is the acrobatic handstand. I realize this is just a detail in the grand scheme of things, but I find it fascinating. Thanks to your suggestion, I've found lots of youtube videos of people (usually teen girls) with a much more acrobatic (arched) handstand. That gives me something to think about and research more.

Thanks again!

Yes, the fellow on the left would have a very hard time keeping his balance while walking on his hands. It is a deep cultural contrivance to try to make a straight spine. There was even a misconceived theory in orthopedics during the 1970s that lumbar curvature was evolving out of human beings. Go figure.

Wishing you well!


Thanks! I will proceed with the acrobatic handstand and throw the straight back version out the window! I asked my son what type his judo teacher did, as he's been wowing the kids with his hand walking skills, and he told me it was definitely the curved back version. Another confirmation.