You’ve probably heard of “Abs or Abdominal separation” post-pregnancy.
Scientifically it’s called “Diastasis Recti”; “Diastasis” meaning Separation and “Recti” refers to the abdominal muscles called the “Rectus Abdominis”.
It’s very common amongst pregnant women. The space between the right and left muscles of the abdomen widens creating the “Postpartum Pooch”. It is a result of the weakened abdominal muscles, stretched due to maternal hormonal changes and increased tension by the growing uterus.
It is more likely to happen after multiple pregnancies which cause various stretching of the muscles, or when having twins or triplets (or more).
In most cases, this opening often reduces in size after pregnancy, however in some cases, even after a year, the muscle is still not fully back to normal.
This separation of the abdominal muscles can cause a multitude of problems if left untreated; back and/or pelvic pains are the most common.
Diagnosing Diastasis Recti:
Ultrasonography is an accurate method to measure it; however, a health provider can assess it by performing a quick palpation test. A small separation, approximately one to two fingers’ width, is common after most pregnancies. However, if the gap at the midline is:
• more than 2 1/2 fingers’ widths
• does not shrink as the mom tightens her abdominals
• a small mound is protruding at her midline
Then you probably have “Diastasis Recti” and need to take a few special precautions during exercise and other activities
Diastasis Recti Don’ts:
• Any exercise or movement that places a strain on the midline or causes the belly to bulge outward (for example sit-ups or planks), this repeated movement can worsen the situation.
• Heavy lifting
• Any exercise or movement that requires twisting of the spine or makes the abdominal wall work against the force of gravity (for example crunches or oblique twists)
Diastasis Recti Dos:
• Pelvic mobility practices such as pelvic tilts, pelvic circles, toe taps, heel slides, clams, and bridges
• Paired with correct breathing, the above practices help you build a better relationship between the abdominals and the pelvic floor muscles
• Always keep the belly pulled in (avoid movements that push it out causing a bulge in the midline)
• Hip opening exercises which allow a right balance between strength and flexibility for the core
• Full body, functional movements such as squats and lunges with correct breathing
When can you start exercising?
As with all post-partum decisions about your body, it is crucial that you consult with your doctor to know when it is safe for you to resume exercising. The general recommendation is to wait about six weeks post-pregnancy but remember that everyone is different and consulting with your doctor is essential.
Once you have the clearance from your doctor, you are ready to go!
The probability of occurrence and the size of Diastasis Recti is higher in non-exercising pregnant women than in exercising pregnant women.
• Pre-pregnancy, practice strengthening your core (including pelvic floor muscles and oblique muscles)
• Always use proper form when performing abdominal exercises
• Avoid exercises where your belly bulges out, or that causes your back to strain
Important things to consider when exercising:
• It would be best if you never worked through the pain
• Always listen to your body
Post-pregnancy, remember that your body just went through something beyond amazing so be patient and love your body!
There is no one as strong and resilient as a mother!