What I know now about Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti) during pregnancy

I’m putting a disclaimer right up the top. Please note, I am not a physiotherapist or personal trainer, I am simply sharing what I’ve learnt from my recent pregnancy about Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti) prevention and care.

Diastasis Recti is something I feel passionate about – particularly that there could be more awareness of the effects on a woman’s body during and post pregnancy.

This blog covers; what is Diastasis Recti, how to use your body and exercises to do, and avoid.

The following blog will cover how I’m repairing Diastasis Recti, so, FOLLOW my blog by clicking FOLLOW at the bottom right of this page to receive notification of when the next post is up. There will be free exercise examples and resources.

What is Diastasis Recti (DR)?

Definition: Diastasis recti is a fairly common condition of pregnancy and postpartum in which the right and left halves of Rectus Abdominis muscle spread apart at the body’s mid line fascia, the linea alba.

  •  A mid line of more than 2 to 2.5 finger-widths, or 2 centimeters, is considered problematic.
  •  Diastasis recti is most commonly seen after pregnancy when the abdominal wall is lax and the thinner mid line tissue no longer provides adequate support for the torso and internal organs.
  • A small amount of widening of the mid line happens in all pregnancies and is normal. 
  • Diastasis recti occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies. 
  • Some postpartum women’s mid lines close to less than 2 finger-widths spontaneously, but for many, the tissue remains too wide, causing problems.

Source: http://www.befitmom.com/diastasis-recti.php

How you use your body during pregnancy

When pregnant it is important to be aware of how your body moves for every day activities to prevent Diastasis Recti (DR). Some basic ones are:

  • Getting out of bed: Rolling to the side, and then pushing yourself up with your arm/hand rather than crunching, or using your abdominals to pull yourself up. Think of this as rolling like a log to get to your side and then pushing up
  • Coning: when working out, leaning backwards, carrying a toddler, anything really, it’s best to avoid “coning”. Coning is when your tummy becomes a cone like shape, rather than basketball-ish. This is the abdominals separating and the baby pushing through. This is NOT good.

Exercises to assist in prevention of DR

Engage Transverse Abdominals (TVA) while doing anything: this can be harder than it looks especially if you’ve never done it before. Here is a video of me at 39 weeks engaging my TVA using the “belly pump” method. Engaging the TVA during walking, exercising, standing, carrying is incredibly important. Engaging TVA muscles can prevent or lessen the severity of DR, and may prevent or lessen back and leg pain during pregnancy.

Another exercise to practice is a pelvic tilt against the wall, tucking and lifting baby up while engaging the TVA.

Exercises to Avoid

I would recommend doing your own research, particularly if working out, attending yoga classes etc, but here are some basic moves to avoid.

  • Planking
  • Crunches
  • Avoid all activities that place stress on the midline, that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall
  • Stretching too far back, I.e over a Swiss ball, during Lat pull down at the gym, as this generally results in “coning” (see above)
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends
  • Final trimester – laying on back, leg extensions, abdominal exercises
  • Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, Oblique curls, “bicycles,” roll ups/roll downs, etc.

When dealing with abdominal separation, and exercising through pregnancy, a personalised approach is best. Always consult a professional and conduct your own research, after all, it is YOUR body!

As part of this blog series, the next blog will be a free resource of exercises to repair DR, so follow my blog by clicking FOLLOW at the bottom right of this page for notification of when this resource is available.

Please also comment below if you have experienced DR and what you are doing, what you have learnt or your experience. I would love to hear your thoughts.

CW xx

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