Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles, usually as a result of pregnancy. As your abdomen expands and grows for your baby, the muscles stretch and move around. They are doing their job, protecting your baby, allowing him/her to grow and develop.
So many changes occur within the tummy during pregnancy, the rib cage can shift around, your breathing pattern changes, the position of all of your vital organs move too. One of the main reasons you may experience acid indigestion is because the stomach shifts upwards and the valves soften.
Once your baby arrives your tummy and all the muscles will feel different, looser maybe and much softer. It isn’t unusual for those ‘contractions’ to continue for a few days after labour as the womb reduces back down in size. It is really important in those early few weeks not to worry, stress or over analyse your abs – they are healing, working their way back to where they were. This is why it is advised that you only walk and carry on with daily activities to allow those muscles to do their job!
When you have seen your GP at 6-8 weeks, we can then check the core to assess and ‘gap’ that may still be through the midline of the tummy. We are not only looking for the size of the gap but ascertaining the strength of the muscle, if there are any pockets that are trying to close and the depth of the gap between the muscles. We will also be asking you about any pain you may be experiencing, anywhere on your body as these core muscles have many complex attachments. Some women who experience diastasis also experience pelvic floor dysfunction as the muscle weakness impacts the functionality of the pelvic floor muscles.
This all may sound a bit scary but in reality over 66% of postnatal women will experience some level of diastasis. It is a muscular condition that is completely fixable, by taking the correct advice, trying out the most effective exercises and listening to your body.
Here are our do’s and don’ts:
Get an expert to check your core, make sure they are trained and know what they are doing!
Seek to exercise in a safe environment where the instructor is fully qualified and can make the necessary adaptions.
Listen to your body, it is healing.
Take note of pain in other areas of the body eg lower back, hips, even the feet.
Ignore the gap, your muscles soften as they age and the symptoms will just get worse.
Jump straight back into the exercise you did pre pregnancy. Running, high impact exercise, team sports any ‘two footed jumps’ will make the condition worse. As will full planks, burpees, mountain climbers, sit ups and many traditional Pilates moves. Even some swimming styles can lengthen the recovery time.
Fit and Healthy Mums are experts in postnatal recovery, we have treated 100’s of women with these symptoms – even when medical professionals have said there is nothing else they can do. We take a full body approach to your recovery, functional movement, being pain free and confident are just as important as ‘those jeans’!